France targets motorists to fund Paris supermetro

Amid the French government's much-hyped announcement of its master plan for a new Paris supermetro, the prime minister also revealed that motorists could be called upon to help foot the €30 billion bill.

France targets motorists to fund Paris supermetro
File photo: Grey World

France’s Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault has revealed that parking fines across the country could be doubled to help pay for the cost of the mammoth 'Grand Paris' transport project.

The scheme will see four new metro lines built as well as two others extended to serve the banlieues (suburbs) around Paris. Several thousand new homes will also be built in a project the government insists will be completed by 2030.

Amid all the excitement of the announcement on Wednesday, one question stood out: how is France going to pay for the €32 billion project at a time when the government is desperately trying to cut the public deficit?

One possible way the government may raise money, Ayrault revealed, is to double parking fines, which at the moment stand at a very reasonable €17 – far less than parking penalties in London, for example.

The proposed measure has sent pulses racing among motorists groups angry at the prospect of the whole of France paying for an improved transport network for the French capital.

Pierre Chasseray, head of the motorists group ‘40 million d’automobilistes’ told The Local the proposal to raise fines was ‘nonsense’.

“At the last minute they decide that actually they don’t have any money to finance this project. It’s like someone going shopping and then getting to the till and saying ‘Oh, I can’t pay’,” Chasseray said.

“Motorists are an easy target. Yet again the government is asking drivers to help finance a project they cannot afford.

“If they do this then fines will have risen threefold in recent years. Just because you stay one or two minutes over, it does not merit a €35 fine.”

Motorists advocate and lawyer Jean-Baptiste le Ball agreed, telling the Nouvel Observateur newspaper: “The announcement still leaves so many grey areas but the only certainty is that tapping motorists is still the easiest way to fill government coffers.”

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Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro