Vienna Is Offering Free Museum Admission If You Walk or Bike Instead of Drive

The Burgtheater in Vienna, Austria during dusk
Photo: Manfred Rutz/Getty Images

Vienna is introducing an innovative new plan to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. Citizens who opt for environmentally friendly transport options, like biking or walking, instead of driving a car can collect “culture tokens,” which are redeemable for free admission at some of the city’s most famed museums.

The “Kultur-Token” system will work via an app that tracks each user’s movements and determines how they’re getting around town, the city of Vienna announced last week. Once a user has tracked 20 kilograms of carbon savings — about two weeks of biking or walking to and from work versus driving, the city says — they’ll be awarded one culture token. The token can then be used for admission into some of the city’s biggest museums.

The Wien Museum, Kunsthalle Wien, Volkstheater, and Wiener Konzerthaus are the four museums included in the six-month trial run. Other museums have expressed interest in joining the scheme, if it expands.

A trial period will begin on Feb. 26 with 1,000 participants. If the test run is successful, the system will be fully operational by the fall.

There is no limit to the number of tokens a user can earn with the program, but they will only be able to hold a maximum of five tokens at a time.

City officials imagine the culture token system could eventually be expanded to more than just environmental issues, too. For example, the app could one day reward people for volunteering — although they drew a clear distinction between that and China’s controversial social credit system.

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