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Youth campaign for free, green and high quality public transport in Genevaa

Tuesday 3 May 2022, by Clement Bindschaedler

The campaign to collect signatures for the initiative “For free, green and high quality public transport” began on Monday 21 March 2022. The campaign committee is made up of the four youth organisations of the Geneva left parties, namely the Jeunesse solidaire – solidaritéS Jeunes, the Jeunes POP, the Jeunesse socialiste and the Jeunes Vert·e·s.

The aim of the initiative is clear: to promote soft mobility in a social and ecological context that has become critical. It is in line with other initiatives for free public transport, in the cantons of Vaud or Neuchâtel in particular, and measures in this direction in many European cities and the United States, a sign of the growing desire to be able to benefit from accessible and high quality public transport. Although Genevans rejected a similar initiative in 2008, the context has changed a lot since then. In urgent situations, radical measures are needed.

Changing the paradigm

Beyond collecting signatures, the initiative committee may have to face a constitutional battle. Free transport is indeed a legal problem. The Federal Constitution stipulates that “the prices paid by public transport users shall cover an appropriate share of the costs”. Deemed unconstitutional in Fribourg but validated very recently in the canton of Vaud, uncertainty hangs over the future decision of the Geneva Council of State. The initiators argue that through taxes, users cover an appropriate share of the costs, in proportion to their income.

Let us dare to hope that the “pink-green” majority of the Council of State, whose youth organizations are committed to the initiative, will not prevent the project from being put to a vote. However, this essential issue will only be addressed at the end of the signature collection campaign, namely on 20 July.

La Jeunesse solidaire is full of confidence in embarking on this campaign. The few stalls already organized have shown us: the people are demanding that the community take full responsibility for an essential public service. If free transport is not an end in itself, it represents a strong signal. Punitive ecology does not appeal, as can be seen by the rejection of the CO₂ law or the mobilization of the gilets jaunes in France. Making GPTs free means concretely offering a consideration to the population in exchange for the efforts that the climate emergency imposes. Let’s change the paradigm and show everything that a socially and ecologically responsible society has to offer!

22 April 2022

Translated from SolidaritéS.

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