Geneva moves to give young people free public transport

Geneva moves to give young people free public transport

After recording a billion-franc budget surplus in 2023, authorities in Geneva have announced their intention to cut taxes and give young people free and unlimited access to public transport. The two surprise measures were issued by the cantonal Council of State, which argued the proposals would help ease the cost of living for residents of the city.

Geneva announces tax cuts for most workers

In a statement, the Geneva Council of State confirmed that it would be putting forward two new policies designed to ease the cost of living in the city, which is often rated as one of the most expensive places in the world to live. The first proposal will see income tax rates cut for most earners.

While the specific cut is yet to be determined, the council wrote that it hoped to cut taxes by 5,3 percent for the highest earners and by 11,3 percent for middle-income Genevans. This means individuals with a salary or income of between 34.510 and 191.473 francs a year, and married couples with a joint income of between 47.869 and 410.775 francs, would see lower taxes thanks to the plan.

Free public transport for under 25s tabled in Geneva

Second, State Councillor Pierre Maudet (Independent) announced that the council aims to give all those under 25 years old a free and unlimited public transport ticket for the entirety of Canton Geneva. Valid until holders turn 25, the pass would give unlimited access to all TPG, SBB and Mouettes services within Canton Geneva.

The ticket would be available to everyone between the ages of six and 25 - those under six already travel for free in Geneva - meaning it would also be offered to young visitors and those who commute to the city. Speaking to 20 Minuten, Maudet said that the policy would “encourage young people to take public transport” and “contribute to the achievement of the canton’s climate objectives”.

Billion-franc surplus allows Geneva to think big

The two new policies were brought about after Canton Geneva announced that it had achieved a budget surplus of 1,4 billion francs in 2023, thanks to what it described in a statement as “higher-than-expected tax revenues…due to the unprecedented growth of the flagship sectors of the Geneva economy.” As a result, cantonal officials have the financial space to think big.

Maudet explained that the tax cuts aimed to provide families and individuals with relief amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, while the transport tickets allowed officials to help and “reach the population who do not pay taxes.” According to Council of State estimates, the tax cuts and tickets together will cost local and cantonal governments 93 million francs a year.

Legality of free public transport in Switzerland in question

However, while a tax cut is inevitably quite popular, when it comes to free public transportation, many cities and cantons have tried to go down this road before. Indeed, previous referendums to make public transportation free have been declared invalid by the Federal Supreme Court, as Clause 2, Section 81 of the constitution states that passengers on Swiss trains, buses, boats and trams should cover “an appropriate portion of the cost.”

Geneva FDP president Pierre Nicollier told SRF that the legality of the idea is still in question, and has called for a commission to look into what the consequences of the two new policies would be. For the Social Democratic and Green Parties, while they voiced support for the concept, they also wanted to put the brakes on it to allow for more time to examine the idea. 

Under 25s could be given free transport in Geneva from summer

Regardless, Maudet told SRF that he remains convinced that the under-25s plan is legal: "We think it is legal if we don't approve it for too large a part of the population." Despite other parties’ call for caution, the Council of State has already tabled the motion, which will be debated urgently by the lower house on March 22.

If all is approved, young people will benefit from the free ticket from the end of the 2024 school summer holidays. However, if it has to face a referendum, it will be delayed until 2025.

Thumb image credit: olrat /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

Read more



Leave a comment

AnthonyCaputo2 15:17 | 28 March 2024

Great news! How bout Zgen pensioners?

AnthonyCaputo2 15:18 | 28 March 2024

Great! What about Pensioners?