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Free public transport costs Paris €4m a day

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Free public transport costs Paris €4m a day
Public transport will remain free until levels of air pollution recede, despite the high cost, transport chiefs say. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP
15:16 CET+01:00
The bill to cover the costs of Paris's “dangerously” high pollution levels is at €16 million ($22.3 million) and counting with city chiefs admitting on Monday that the decision to make public transport free is costing authorities €4 million a day.

The decision to make public transport free in Paris pleased environmentalists and commuters but it would not have pleased state accountants, with transport chiefs saying on Monday that it cost the region €4 million ($5.5 million) per day.

Despite the hefty costs Jean-Paul Huchon, the president of Île-de-France and of the region’s transport authority STIF,  said that the Metro as well as buses and trains in the capital, would remain free, as it has done since Friday morning, until the spike in pollution levels recedes, that environmentalists say is risking lives.

“It’s STIF, in other the words the region, that will pay,” Huchon said before stating that he will be calling on the government to help foot part of the bill.

The €4 million daily bill covers the cost of the extra services laid on to cope with extra demand as well as the loss of earnings by the transport operators. Since Friday a million extra journeys were made on public transport, authorities say.

Huchon said that those who have monthly or weekly passes for the capital’s transport network will not be compensated by the fact public transport was free for four days.

The measure was an incentive for those who didn’t use public transport, he said.

Buses, trains and metro carriages were packed on Monday as Paris introduced a rule whereby vehicle use is restricted to alternate days depending on licence plate numbers. It resulted in nearly 4,000 fines behind handed out by midday to those who disobeyed the rule, police said.

Around 700 police officers were deployed to man 179 checkpoints around the French capital to ensure that only cars with number plates ending in odd numbers were out on the streets.

State railway company SNCF warned on its website of packed suburban trains at peak hours due to the extreme measure.
 
Authorities said rush hour traffic jams were down 25 percent in Paris and were reduced by 60 percent at the gateways to the city as drivers grudgingly conformed to the rules.
 
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