Paris considers making public transport free to reduce pollution | 2018-03-25 |

Paris considers making public transport free to reduce pollution

Sun Online Desk     25th March, 2018 04:37:54 printer

Paris considers making public transport free to reduce pollution

A picture taken on 5 December 2016 shows the Eiffel Tower in the smog Getty Images

Regional transport authority cautions such a move would hit taxpayers


The Socialist mayor of Paris has said she wants to make all public transport free in order to reduce air pollution.


Anne Hidalgo announced plans for a study into the feasibility of free city-wide transport.


She told the French daily newspaper Los Echos many of world's big cities were looking into developing clean mobility and boost air quality by reducing the number of cars on the roads.


Such a goal would require making public transport more attractive, she said.

“To improve public transport we should not only make it more extensive, more regular and more comfortable, we must also rethink the fares system,” she said in a statement.


However, the head of the regional transport authority said the move would hit taxpayers.


Valerie Pecresse, a conservative politician and head of the Ile-de-France region around Paris, rejected Ms Hidalgo's proposal.


Ms Peceresse, who is president of the area's transport authority, IDFM, said if travellers did not pay, taxpayers would have to instead.


“Today, our priority is to modernise transport. Ticket sales bring in €3bn (£2.6bn) a year... we need that money,” Ms Pecresse told Radio Classique.


Ms Pecresse, who might challenge Ms Hidalgo in the 2020 mayoral vote, said it would be unfair to make transport free for Parisians but not for people living in the suburbs.


Ms Hidalgo did state whether her proposal would cover just the 2.2 million residents of Paris or all 12 million living in the city and Ile-de-France region.

A 2015 study by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, showed Paris already has one of the highest levels of public transport use in Europe, with more than 60 per cent of people using the metro, buses and train system. At the same time, a little over 25 per cent of people said they use their car to commute.


Ms Hidalgo referred to German plans for free public transport and said some European cities already have it, notably Estonia’s capital Tallinn.


The German government is considering plans to make public transport free in cities suffering from air quality problems. It wants to test the measure in five cities including Bonn and Essen.


Several smaller French cities already provide free buses.


Ms Hidalgo has pushed through a series of measures to cut urban pollution, including turning highways along the Seine river into public parks and building more bike lanes.


By 2020, Paris plans to ban all petrol and diesel-fuelled cars from the city centre.


In recent years, Paris has imposed license plate-based driving restrictions to take up to half of the cars off the roads when pollution is at peak levels.


Source: The Independent UK