Geneva to offer free public transport to some under 25s: What you need to know

Geneva to offer free public transport to some under 25s: What you need to know

After what could only be described as a political ping-pong match, the Grand Council of Geneva has approved a plan to offer free public transport to some young people. Here’s what you need to know about the plans, and when people in the city will be able to benefit from the change.

Geneva Grand Council finally votes in favour of free public transport

By 64 votes to 34, on May 30 lawmakers in the Grand Council of Geneva finally accepted a plan to give some young people free public transport tickets for the city. Originally proposed in March, following the news that Canton Geneva ran a 1,4-billion-franc surplus in 2023, lawmakers have tried and failed to implement the law twice. 

This was mainly because of FDP. The Liberals - the main opponents of the plan - tactically voted in favour of amendments to the plan that made the idea unacceptable for a majority on the council. These hijinks have now concluded, though the proposal that was accepted is a much watered-down version of the plan proposed two months ago.

All you need to know about free public transport in Geneva

With the proposal now set to come into force, here’s what you need to know about free public transport for young people in Geneva:

Who is eligible for free public transport in Geneva?

Free public transport will be given to people aged six to 24, on the condition that they are residents of Geneva, or go to school or university in the canton. They also have to be either studying or at school in Geneva, or be working a job that offers less than a certain set salary (to be clarified at a later date).

These people, and those who claim Swiss pensions or disability insurance and are residents in the canton, will also be able to benefit from a 50 percent discount on all public transport subscriptions offered by Transport Public Genevois (TPG).

This is a major backtrack on plans proposed in March, under which all under 25s, both resident and non-resident of Geneva, would have been able to travel for free. 

Where does the under-25s free transport offer cover?

The free public transport pass is expected to grant users unlimited access to buses, trams, trains and boats operating in the Zone 10 UNIRESO section of the TPG network. In practice, this means that the ticket will be valid in all of Canton Geneva.

Will I need to apply for free public transport in Geneva?

Originally, lawmakers had hoped that young people would simply have to carry a passport, residence permit or other form of ID in order to benefit from the free public transport service. However, with the offer now restricted to those in education and low-income work, the free transport offer will likely take the form of a ticket that has to be applied for through TPG or the local council.

When will free transport be launched for young people in Geneva?

The free public transport service will come into force on December 15, 2024, when TPG and Swiss Federal Railways change their timetables for 2025.

Is there any chance that the Geneva free public transport plan will be scrapped?

As it was passing through the Grand Council, some lawmakers argued that the Federal Supreme Court would reject the plan for violating the Swiss constitution. Currently, the law states that “the prices paid by users of public transport cover an appropriate part of the costs”. This is the reason why a referendum calling for totally free public transport in Geneva was declared null and void by the court in March 2023.

However, supporters of the proposal argued that with the offer now restricted to those in education and with low salaries, they believe that the plan “respects the law.” Whether the Federal Supreme Court agrees is yet to be seen.

New TPG offer designed to coax young people out of cars and into trams

Speaking to RTS after the vote, Mobility Department head Pierre Maudet (LJS) argued that the plan helps restore the purchasing power of families who are struggling to make ends meet. He concluded that it is “also an environmental measure” which encourages drivers to make the switch to public transport, and allows young people and schoolchildren to get used to the TPG system before they have to pay. 

Thumb image credit: Danang DNG /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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