Prague students may travel for Kč 365 a year

The city is planning some changes to public transport ahead of the elections

Students up to age 30 may be able to use Prague's public transit for just Kč 1 a day, getting an annual pass for Kč 365.

Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek (ČSSD), responsible for transportation, has made the proposal, which still needs to be approved by the full City Council. It is expected to gain approval.

He also wants to increase metro service on weekends and allow for installment payments on adult annual metro passes.

Currently, people under the age of 18 and students under 26 can get a pass for Kč 260 per month. There are also quarterly, five-month or 10-month tickets, the latter Kč 2,400 crowns. All-year student fares are not available at this time.

Dolínek wants to offer students just one prepaid fare for 12 months starting Sept. 1, for the cost of less than two months at the current rates.

The city cut the rates for annual passes for adults in 2015 to Kč 10 per day or Kč 3,650 per year from Kč 4,750, and it led to more people buying passes. The city has a long-term goal to reduce car traffic and to reduce people riding without paying.

Dolínek now wants to motivate young people to use more public transport and at the same time to reduce the rising cost of living among students.

“When we greatly reduced the annual coupon, we faced criticism that it would have a negative economic impact. The opposite proved to be true, thanks to a significant increase in customer numbers,” Dolinek said.

Critics say the price cut could cause a budget shortfall up to Kč 350 million. Dolinek disagrees, saying the number of young passengers who ride without tickets should be reduced significantly.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) supports the rate cut for students and was one of the key promoters of the cut for adults in 2015. She said ANO backs the discount, and that it fits in with government plans for reduced prices for domestic train travel for young people and seniors.

Deputy Mayor Petra Kolínská (Greens) said students should have free public transport, though this idea does not have widespread support. ANO, ČSSD and the three-party coalition that includes the Greens currently lead City Hall in Prague.

Opposition TOP 09 representatives, however, called the proposal a populist move. The city is having elections in October. The Pirates also opposed it, saying the planned Kč 350 million cost of the discount could be better spent on teachers' salaries or infrastructure.

Dolínek's proposal, which would take effect Sept. 1, also calls for more metro service on weekends on the B and C lines. Waits on the B line should drop to six minutes from 7.5, and on the C line drop to five minutes. Waits on the A line would be reduced only on Sunday mornings to 7.5 minutes from 10 minutes.

Paying for the annual pass in installments is being planned, and could take effect at the start of next year. People with low incomes often can't afford the whole annual pass at once. This can lead to people riding without tickets instead, getting fined and the caught up in a cycle of problems when they can't pay the fine. 

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