How do you get out and about?
To get the French (re-)thinking their travel behaviour, this year’s national Public Transport Day, on Saturday 16 September, puts air pollution in the picture.
Taking place on 16 September, during European Mobility Week, the operation essentially involves promotional transport fares and awareness campaigns across 11 of the 13 metropolitan regions in the Hexagon. The target audience? Die-hard car drivers and people that never or occasionally use public transport.
Also to acknowledge network operators, eight ‘Challenges’ prizes are up for grabs under four categories: service information; services to riders and connected mobility; behaviour change; and preserving the environment.
‘Contre la pollution vous avez la solution’
Bringing air pollution to the fore aims to drive home the messages that 1) each and every one of us plays a part in the quality of air we breathe – I exist, therefore I pollute – and 2) through public transport we can all do our bit to reduce it.
Every year in France, 48,000 deaths are attributed to air pollution, the third cause of death after smoking and alcohol, and the cost to the economy amounts to some €101 billion.
Public transport in France is steadily cleaning up its act by introducing ‘cleaner’ fuel technologies such as biogas and electricity. But as Jean-Luc Rigaut, 1st vice president, GART, points out, we shouldn’t write off diesel buses altogther. Those running under the most recent Euro emissions standards are also part of solution, at least for the immediate future. “We prefer to invest in two Euro 6 buses that ensure better regularity than a single electric bus,” he says.
The French energy transition law stipulates that local authorities (collectivités) must have at least 50% low emission vehicles, i.e. electric, gas, hydrogen, by 2020; and 100% by 2025. It will cost public transport in Ile-de-France a massive €4 billion to meet this obligation.
Road traffic (private vehicles, trucks…) is the main source of air pollution in Ile-de-France. To nudge its inhabitants into taking more personal responsibility on this score, watchdog Airparif has stepped into the breach with a new measurement calculator.
An online tool, it enables users to calculate their contribution to pollution by comparing six transport modes – the car, bus, rail, motorised two-wheelers, cycling, and walking.
“Travelling by public transport means preserving the air we breathe; it means preserving our future,” says UTP president Thierry Mallet.