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This Petite French Town Turned a Stadium Boondoggle Into Free Public Transportation

“It is a question of political priority.”
An actor walks on the set before filming a scene for the film, "Dunkirk," in Dunkirk, northern France.
An actor walks on the set before filming a scene for the film, "Dunkirk," in Dunkirk, northern France.Michel Spingler/AP

Dunkirk is a shrinking, suburban city on the northern coast of France. It’s a car town, where public buses are a mode of last resort: They represent only five percent of trips.

But when Patrice Vergriete ran for mayor in 2014, he envisioned something different: a sustainable city that allures and serves young people, families, and the elderly alike. So he made a radical campaign promise, which he thinks helped him win: make the buses free.