Germany is considering free public transit in its cities in order to curb car use, as it hurries to meet the European Union's requirements for air quality.
That proposal is put forth in a letter to from the German government to the EU's Environment Commissioner. The free transit plan is part of a range of measures suggested in the letter, including low emission zones, incentives for electric cars, and technically retrofitting existing vehicles, Reuters reports.
"We are considering public transport free of charge in order to reduce the number of private cars," the letter says, according to Agence France Presse. "Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany."
Germany and eight other EU countries missed a January 30 deadline to meet the EU's air pollution limits. If they don't offer convincing plans to meet the pollution targets, the countries could face legal action at the European Court of Justice.
" 'Life-threatening' pollution affects more than 130 cities in Europe, according to the Commission, causing some 400,000 deaths and costing 20 billion euros ($24.7 billion) in health spending per year in the bloc," AFP reports.
And getting some Germans to leave their cars at home may be difficult. After all, this is the home of Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler — and the autobahn.