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France: Montpellier makes public transport free of charge

 

 

 

 

Montpelier Comedy Square

 

After two successful test phases, the city’s decision has been made: bus and tram travel will become free for Montpellier’s residents. From December 2023, none will have to pay for public transport. In this way, the city aims to reduce air pollution, cut emissions and support disadvantaged groups. The measure is part of a 150 million euro package that also includes the construction of new bicycle lanes. 

Montpellier’s city government is making public transportation free for all. From December 21, 2023, the city’s 300,000 inhabitants will no longer have to pay anything for buses and trams. In doing so, the city not only wants to reduce air pollution, but also make it easier for socially disadvantaged people to get around.

The measure is part of a 150 million euro package to make the city sustainable and emission-free. In addition to free public transport, Montpellier plans to introduce environmental zones and expand bicycle lanes.

Residents can register with the “M Ticket” app to receive the free tickets. To do so, they need a valid ID card and a registration address.

Montpellier’s Mayor Michaël Delafosse tweeted: “By introducing free transport, we are bold in taking a great measure of social justice, of progress, which works for the ecological transition,” 

Two successful trial phases: 160,000 people use free tickets

Montpellier has been testing free public transport since 2020. The measure now adopted is the result of two successful trial phases:

  1. Phase: free tickets for residents on weekends (from September 2020).
  2. Phase: Free tickets for young people under 18 and seniors from 65 (from September 2021). 

The first phase already resulted in 12 percent more residents using public transportation on weekends. The second phase was similarly successful: 160,000 residents took advantage of the offer. Even after the end, 60 percent continued to use public transportation.

Previously, the city supported motorists with free parking hours. The current government abolished this rule and financed the first trial phase with the 1.3 million euros released.

France: Public transport is already free in 39 cities and towns

Montpellier is not the only French city where residents do not have to pay anything for public transport. Since France handed over traffic management to municipal authorities in 2015, the concept has spread to 39 cities and towns. Among them is the port city of Calais, the Marseille suburb of Aubange and the municipality of Niort.

Depending on the municipality or city, the measure is financed differently: in Dunkirk, for example, via the mobility tax. In France, private and public companies with more than 10 employees must pay this tax. With 200,000 inhabitants, Dunkirk is the second-largest city in France with free local transport after Montpellier.

Paris, Lyon and Marseille: only partially free local public transport

France’s major metropolises (Lyon, Paris, Marseille) are still hesitant to implement free public transportation. This is because they rely on ticket sales to finance their public transport. The share of total costs there is 25-40 percent. In smaller cities, on the other hand, it is only 10 percent.

Nevertheless, there are also offers in France’s big cities to relieve the burden on low-income earners, young people and pensioners. In Paris, Strasbourg and Lille, for example, young people under 18 are allowed to use public transportation free of charge. Passengers in Nantes and Rouen can ride the trams, bus lines and subway for free on weekends.

7 Beaches in Miami Every Traveller Should Experience

 

ARTICLE  COURTESY OF…  https://www.articlecity.com/

 

 

Are you intent on traveling to Miami and visiting the best beaches there? To help you navigate the area, here are the 7 beaches in Miami every traveller should experience.

Miami has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, not just the country. It receives around 16 million visitors each year, most of those visiting beaches in Miami. These beaches provide something new for everyone.

You’ll find plenty of sun, sand, and surf, but also tons of water sports, events, and festivities. The best beaches in Miami are fun year around. You don’t need to wait until Spring or Summer to get your tan on or ride the waves. The days when the beaches are the least busy are the best ways the experience Miami.

Pack your sunscreen and get your camera settings ready, natural beauty awaits. Your next trip to Miami needs to include these beaches!

 

 

Surfside

Surfside Beach Miami - AssistAntThis humble little oasis may be little, but it can make a lot of noise. Surfside is smaller than Miami Beach’s island community, but it isn’t exclusive. This is a very accessible beach with a nice authentic neighbourhood vibe. Whether you stay in a luxury condo or a small BNB, Surfside is the place to go.

There’s a big waterpark in the local community centre and lifeguards are plentiful. Surfside is an ideal beach destination for families, providing plenty of things to do for all ages. Also, unlike many beachside communities, the people are welcoming, diverse, and unbothered by tourists.

Haulover Beach

There are many words you can use to describe Haulover Beach: majestic, exotic, refreshing, and even sexy. This beach sits right between the luxurious Sunny Isles and Bal Harbour. The beach is divided into to sections: the ‘clothing optional’ side and the normal side.

The nudist part of the beach is 100% family-oriented, this isn’t for adult shenanigans. It’s not a very large portion of the beach, either, so expect it to be crowded. Besides that, the entire beach is well-maintained and lively.

Surfers come to Haulover for its consistent waves. Thanks to it being an inlet and rolling currents, waves are strong from June to November.

Lummus Park Beach

Lummus Park Beach Miami Florida - AssistAnt TravelThe legendary South Beach is filled with plenty of tourist traps, celeb hangouts, and luxurious waterfront condos. Lummus Park Beach is the crown jewel of South Beach, in our opinion. This is one of the best Miami beaches in terms of eye-candy. We mean that in every definition of the noun, by the way.

From Art Deco architecture, cruise ships, bikini babes, and exquisite cafes lining the beach, it’s a delight of the senses. Don’t be put off by the reputation of being a party beach, Lummus Park Beach is too gorgeous for anyone to be shy and miss out. Rich or poor, luxurious tourism or family visits, everyone has fun in South Beach.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

This isn’t your average beach spot, but Bill Baggs is a unique experience. Visitors come for the sand, but they come back for the lighthouse. This old retired lighthouse is the oldest building in Miami. Built in 1825, it now provides an excellent view of the city.

Climb up the 109 steps on the free tours given on weekdays. Don’t worry, you can do it, it goes at a slow pace. Once at the top, you’ll be able to overlook the bay and the city in the distance. It’s just something you need to experience if you’ve never been in a lighthouse before.

Crandon Park

If you want a slice of real Miami food and culture, come to Crandon Park. There’s always cookouts happening at this park. Tourists can get away with being offered free plates if you’re friendly and show interest. Hospitality here is what Miami is really all about.

After you’ve let that barbeque settle, you can rent a cabana, play tennis, golf, go kayaking, or just chill and get your tan. Everything is conveniently located close together in the Crandon Park area. This is not a bad place to spend an entire trip in Miami if you want the most authentic experience.

Oleta River State Park

Beaches Miami Oleta River - AssistAnt TravelAnother great beach in North Miami is conveniently located next to a river. You can get the best of both worlds: relaxing beach lounging and exhilarating outdoor adventures on the river. The park has plenty of bike and hiking trails, camping grounds, and rental services.

The beach is just a few minutes from about any spot in the park. This provides a unique experience of being close to nature, while also allowing you to get out and meditate on the beach.

South Pointe Park

While it isn’t a huge beach by any means, South Pointe is literally the last beach in South Miami. This makes it a great place to boat-watch and cruise-watch. The park is perfect for a family picnic–open, well-maintained, grassy fields.

There’s a playground, a dog park, art sculptures, and a pier to explore. Despite its fantastic location and serene atmosphere, not many people pass through here. If you love to fish, the 450-foot-long pier offers spots for cutting bait and washing catches. Great place to watch fisherman and boats go about their day.

When to Go to Beaches in Miami

Those are our picks for the best beaches in Miami. I’m sure some were surprises, while some are just essentials. Wherever you go in Miami, there are chances that you’ll find a “bad” beach. The key is planning ahead.

You should be aware of the “Snowbird season”, which peaks during the holidays and runs into Spring. Summer is going to be the hottest and busiest times, of course. So, ideally, you should plan for early Spring or late-Fall if you want to avoid crowds. If that doesn’t concern you, then just avoid Hurricane Season, which peaks in August into October.  Read our article for how to enjoy the perfect week of luxury travel in Miami.

If you are looking for more help planning your dream vacation on the beaches of Miami, contact us about our Miami VIP Airport Service and our Miami Luxury Transportation services. We can guarantee that you’ll have a stress-free and enjoyable vacation, no matter when or where it is.

 

 

Peace, environmental protection, integration – Costa Rica a model State for Latin America?

 

ARTICLE  COURTESY OF…  https://thebetter.news/costa-rica-model-state/

Thomas Hackl  the original source/author..

 

Costa Rica went its own way: without an army, but with investments in education and health, a sustainable economy and an open society, Costa Rica became a model state in Latin America.

Costa Rica is one of the most prosperous, peaceful and sustainable countries in Latin America. Although the Central American country is located in one of the most insecure and unstable regions of the world, the small country has managed to protect its peace and democracy. At the same time, the Ticos (the common name for people from Costa Rica) have made it prosperous. The country has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. All this despite the fact that before independence, Costa Rica was one of the most insignificant and underdeveloped parts of the Spanish colonial empire.

But how did the small Central American country manage to develop so much? And what can other countries learn from Costa Rica? Here are three of the most important points.

Schoolbooks instead of Firearms

Costa Rica won its independence without violence in 1821. However, the country was not spared conflicts thereafter. Repeated wars and civil wars broke out. For example, the American William Walker tried to conquer all of Central America and establish a slave state there under the influence of the USA. Under the leadership of Costa Rica, however, the states of Central America were able to defeat William Walker.

The turnaround came with Costa Rica’s last civil war in 1948. At the end of the war, the army was abolished and since then Costa Rica has lived in unarmed neutrality. This makes Costa Rica one of the few countries in the world without an army.

Instead of spending money on weapons, Costa Rica invested in education and the health system. The result is impressive: Today, the Ticos have the highest life expectancy in Latin America and even do better than the USA. In education, Costa Rica has one of the highest literacy rates and one of the highest percentages of university graduates in Latin America. This has led to a strong civil society and a successful economy.

Costa Rica has not only promoted peace in its own country, but has also worked for the peaceful resolution of conflicts throughout the region. The country successfully acted as a mediator in the civil wars in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. For this commitment, the then Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sánchez was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Costa Rica is a Role Model in Environmental Protection

Costa Rica is one of the most sustainable countries in the world and a model of nature conservation. The country obtains almost 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and is a global pioneer together with countries such as Iceland and Norway. In 2017, the country went a full 300 days without fossil energy in its electricity generation. Costa Rica is so successful with its sustainable energy that it can even export electricity to neighbouring countries.

The country also has one of the largest bio diversities in the world. More than 5 percent of all known animal and plant species are native to Costa Rica, and this despite the fact that tiny Costa Rica makes up only 0.03 percent of the land area of our planet. By comparison, Austria is home to only about 0.53 percent of the world’s biodiversity, even though the country is almost twice the size of the Central American nation.

This is not by chance. Costa Rica has made great efforts to protect its nature. Until the 1980s, the country was affected by heavy deforestation and only about 30 percent of the land was covered by forest. Costa Rica then launched a massive campaign to reforest the country. Today, almost 60 percent of the country’s territory is covered with forest again.

Hardly any other country in the world has been as successful in reforesting its forests as Costa Rica. (Foto: Waren Brasse / Unsplash)

To protect nature in the long term, Costa Rica has created numerous protected areas, including 26 national parks. The national parks alone account for over 12 percent of the country’s surface area. To put that in perspective: Austria has six national parks, which together make up less than 3 percent of the national territory.

This is not only good for animals and plants, but also for people. Besides being green lungs, the national parks are also tourist magnets. Around 2.5 million tourists from abroad visit Costa Rica’s national parks every year. This makes the country a pioneer in sustainable tourism.

Openness and Integration

Costa Rica is very open and welcoming to people from other countries. That is why the number of people living in Costa Rica but born in other countries has increased a lot in the last decades. People come from different countries and for different reasons. Costa Rica has a long tradition of welcoming refugees. Especially when many countries in Central America were affected by civil wars, Costa Rica took in refugees. In recent decades, however, there has also been an increased migration of workers from Nicaragua to Costa Rica to fill labour shortages in tourism and agriculture. Equally, many people from North America and Europe come to live in Costa Rica because of the natural beauty and pleasant climate.

Costa Rica is comparatively successful in integrating these different groups into society. Besides the openness of the population, this is mainly due to two reasons: the legal regulations in this area and the national understanding of the Ticos.

The biggest legal difference between Costa Rica and many European countries is that all people born in Costa Rica are automatically entitled to Costa Rican citizenship. Children of Ticos born abroad are of course also entitled to citizenship. In addition, it is easier for people with foreign passports to obtain Costa Rican citizenship than in Austria, for example. In Costa Rica you only have to live in the country for five years, in Austria for ten.

Costa Rica’s national identity also makes it much easier for people from abroad to integrate. Being Ticos has to do with language and values. Anyone who speaks Spanish and uses typical Costa Rican expressions (such as tuanis for “cool”, mae for “Oida” or pura vida for everything from “thank you”, “please” to “all is well”) is quickly seen as a Tico. Values that are highly rated in Costa Rican society are pacifism, environmental protection, but especially cosiness and conviviality. The focus of the national understanding on language and values rather than skin colour or origin of the parents makes it simple to integrate into Costa Rican society.

Foto von Adrián Valverde auf Unsplash
Ticos love nature, tranquillity and cosiness. So it is not surprising that they have made the sloth one of their national symbols. (Foto: Adrián Valverde / Unsplash)

Role model but not without flaws

This is not to say that Costa Rica is a paradise that is flawless. The country has many problems to overcome. Although corruption in Costa Rica is low compared to other Latin American countries, it still leads to large infrastructure projects often not being realised, being delayed or costs exploding. However, it is precisely these projects that would be necessary for the continued fight against climate change. For example, the expansion of public transport in Costa Rica is lagging behind. Therefore, most people still depend on the car, even in urban areas. In addition, social inequality and crime have grown in recent years. The public health and education systems are also under increasing financial pressure.

Nevertheless, the example of Costa Rica shows that a country with peaceful, social and sustainable development can be successful and countries like Austria can also learn a lot from this example.

 

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