Paris woos commuters with new transport apps

Paris transport chiefs are rolling out extensive upgrades to their traveller apps, including real time updates, new games, and an English-language audio tourguide for bus journeys.

Paris woos commuters with new transport apps
Photo: AFP
Life could be about to get just a little less chaotic for commuters and other public transport users in Paris, with the RATP  – the company that runs the bus and Metro networks rolling out what it calls “significant improvements to passenger information”.
The newly revamped “RATP Apps” portal will go live on Wednesday on the RATP website, offering 12 new apps from everything to entertainment to travel. 
On top of this, there will be a separate new app offering real time information for the RER A, the capital's busiest line that runs from east to west and passes through the financial district of La Défense.
The app, which is called “monRERA” and will be launched next week, will be welcome news for commuters on what is Europe's busiest rail line, carrying 1.2 million passengers a day.
It will offer up-to-the-minute information about delays, estimated travel times, and will alert when congestion is particularly heavy.
Metro users on other lines will see plenty of upgrades and add-ons among the new apps, including added information about the availability of escalators and elevators, and even the Vélib' public bicycle stations that are nearby.
For those desperate to save a minute or two, there'll even be a new feature telling which end of the train to stand on in order to arrive in front of the optimal exit at your destination. 
There will also be a “Visitobus” feature, that will give an English audio guide on bus trips, and a “Secrets of Paris” feature in French for discovering behind the scenes treasures of the capital. 
Lastly, for those extra long commutes, Parisians will have access to two games: “Game in Town” and “Paris Metro Simulator”. 
The jury is still out on whether the games will be any good, but if you find yourself on an RER heading to the airport that's gotten stuck in a tunnel then you may be glad to have downloaded it. 
The original RATP app is used by more than half of Parisians, mostly for information about getting from A to B on the sometimes confusing Metro lines.

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.