In September 2018, the French city of Dunkirk, with a population of just over 90,000, and a total of 257,000 in its metropolitan area, launched a free bus system for residents and visitors, since when it has succeeded in drastically reducing private car use.
An academic study on the experience shows that bus use has skyrocketed more than 60% on weekdays and more than doubled on weekends, with 48% of users saying they now leave their cars at home. Furthermore, 5% of those surveyed said they have sold their car or decided not to purchase a second vehicle. A third said that the availability of free buses means they now make trips they wouldn’t have otherwise. This increased demand is not due solely to the availability of free and convenient transportation, but also to the fact that it is frictionless: people don’t have to worry about travel cards, cash or identification.