• France's news in English

Outrage in France over 'Roma-only' bus service

Sophie Inge · 9 Apr 2015, 13:57

Published: 09 Apr 2015 13:57 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The idea was put initially forward by Dominique Granier, a member of the local Force Ouvriere (FO) union in the city in an article in the local Gazette de Montpellier newspaper dated April 2nd.

Describing the smell as “unbearable”, Granier said community’s use of the transport service constituted a “sanitary risk”.

His proposal concerns the number 9 bus route that connects the city centre with the Roma camp in the Grammont district.

The proposed bus service now has the backing of the city’s transport authority, the TaM (Transport for the Urban Area of Montpellier), according to Libération.

“The management has decided to follow the union by removing part of this bus line that is very popular with Roma people and to outsource this part of the line,” Bernard Gotis, a representative for the CGT union who is opposed to the proposal, told Libération.

According to the CGT union, FO union representatives for the transport authority withdrew many of their buses from the bus route last month in protest against the smell.

They also complained to the authority’s Committee for Hygiene, Security and Working Conditions (CHSCT) which then inspected the buses. 

However the proposal has been strongly criticized.

“It’s a disgrace. Yes, there is a bad smell when Roma people are on the bus and we have pointed it out for two years but it’s not their fault," Gotis said.

“It’s because we've abandoned them so much that they don’t have a tap in their camp. They’re not animals. We shouldn’t attack poor people but poverty. It only shifts the problem. We don’t want to recreate apartheid in Montpellier.”

The proposed bus service also faced criticism from the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC).

“France is bound under European Union law to prohibit race discrimination (i.e. less favorable treatment based on race) in relation to all services, including public transportation," the organization said in a statement sent to The Local.

"It seems very difficult to imagine how having a special bus for Roma could amount to anything other than unlawful discrimination. It stigmatizes Roma in ways that European anti-discrimination law was designed to prevent.”  

Story continues below…

This isn’t the first time the idea of a Roma-only bus has been considered by authorities.

Last October a mayor in Borgaro, north-west Italy, controversially backed a plan to create a bus route only for Roma people following reports of passengers being robbed and abused on the bus line.

However, the plans never actually went ahead.  

The Local has tried to contact TaM for a comment on the story.

Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available