Jūrmala mulls free public transportation for locals

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A committee at the city hall of the Jūrmala resort town is about to discuss instating free public transportation for local residents, reports Latvian Radio.

Locals would have to acquire a resident's card, similar to those already available in Rīga, to enjoy free rides. The scheme, which would cost Jūrmala around €600,000 a year, would make Jūrmala the second municipality to make public transportation free for its residents, after Rēzekne in Latvia's east.

The scheme operational in Rēzekne, however, provides free rides for people who earn less than 90% of the average national monthly wage. 

"The number of passengers has increased 40 to 50%.. Pupils and students have started to use this opportunity quite actively," says Rēzekne mayor Andrejs Rešetņikovs (Harmony). The scheme costs €320,000 to €340,000 for the city. 

While councilors in power say the idea is very old, opposition deputees say it amounts to an attempt to sway the vote in the Saeima election that takes place this October.

"We're funding free rides for pupils and pensioners, which is of course justified. At the same time, there's a lot that's yet to be done in the city," said Uldis Kronblūms, an opposition councilor. 

The city hall is to discuss the committee's initiative on March 15. 

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