The Greens have proposed free bus travel for all as way of dealing with the rising cost of fuel and persuading people to use public transport.

Instead of reducing the fuel tax, the Green Party said, the government should focus on giving public transport a boost. It proposed free travel on public transport for the next six months.

After the six months, tickets bought for travel all over the island should not exceed €10 monthly. The elderly, soldiers, students and other eligible groups should continue to use buses for free.

The Greens backed this proposal by arguing that the government’s plan to address rising fuel costs through a tax cut, sidestepped the urgent transport and energy issues at stake.

The price of liquid fuels was rising by the day and it seemed it would continue to do so, but it was the high rate of dependency on private cars in Cyprus that made the situation untenable, said the Greens. A recent study showed that car use in Cyprus is the third highest in Europe, with 645 cars per 1,000 people.

The plan to help the public by reducing the tax on petrol may bring temporary economic relief, however, high car use would remain the same and there would be no positive outcome for the two major problems facing our society, said the Greens.

The first was the problem of heavy traffic congestion in our cities and the second was the excessively high emissions rate, which Cyprus had pledged to reduce by 55 per cent by 2030 and eliminate completely by 2050.

“Who will pay for our [continued] emission allowances which are increasing by the year?” the Greens ask in their statement.

Bus travel, the Greens argued, would have an immediate economic benefit for people as it was much cheaper than car use. In most European cities public transport is used, instead of private cars.

Conservative calculations put the cost of car use at about €400 per month while the cost of bus transportation would be a tiny fraction of this. Traffic conditions would also be greatly improved as one bus can replace 25 cars on the road. Less congested roads would reduce travel times as well as work hours lost to travelling.

The Greens point out that this was an opportunity to make people embrace the idea of utilizing public transport, which has been ignored in Cyprus for decades.