How France plans to improve transport links in rural areas

How France plans to improve transport links in rural areas
Photo: AFP
The French government will unveil a bill on Monday which aims to improve public transport links in rural parts of the country where people are forced to use their cars due a lack of public transport. Here's how the government plans to do it.
French Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne was set to present the bill which will propose measures to create more and cleaner public transport options in areas of rural France where people are currently left with little choice but to use their cars – if they can afford one that is. 
It is hoped that the announcements will go some way to help quell the anger of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) motorists who have recently been protesting the rising fuel taxes in France as well as falling spending power.
Since January, the price of petrol has shot up by 15 percent while diesel prices have gone up by 23 percent and anger over fuel costs, blamed on taxes imposed by President Emmanuel Macron to fight pollution, has been simmering for months, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas where public transport is patchy.
Borne has described the bill as “a toolbox available to transport operators, local authorities, employers and transport users”. 
However it is feared that the bill will not go far enough for the people who want immediate solutions to transport problems in their area. 
Here are the measures that will affect transport in rural France. 
LATEST: 'Yellow vest' road blocks continue with Macron under pressure to respond
Photo: AFP
Transport authorities
The bill says that the whole of France will be covered by a transport authority known as an AOM, which currently only cover cities or large and medium-sized towns, as well as the whole of the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France.
This means that all local authorities, regardless of their size, will be able to set up a tax on businesses to finance the area's transport network. 
The idea behind this is to ensure that in every part of France there is an alternatives to driving. 
However some people have already jumped on the fact that many small communities have such limited resources that they will not be able to afford their own transport authority. 
Cheaper driving licenses
This has been described in the French press as one of the most “eagerly anticipated” measures included in the bill. 
If the proposal, recently promised by French President Emmanuel Macron, goes ahead the cost of getting a driving license would see a “drastic drop” from the current price of between €600 and €2,000.
However some have suggested that this seems unrealistic because prices vary dramatically between departments and each driving school in France has its own pricing policy.
Carpooling and cycling
A “sustainable transport package” worth up to €400 as a way of encouraging people to carpool or cycle is included on the bill. 
The idea is that employers would pay their staff a bonus for using more sustainable methods of transport.  
The bill also includes the legal framework to create public shuttles (navettes in French) from 2020.
Experiments with these driverless buses have already been conducted in Paris and in April 2018, autonomous shuttles were launched at Charles de Gaulle airport. 
The bill proposes that these small electric vehicles could be put into circulation in rural areas in less than two years and take travelers to a train station or city centre.
'Green lanes'
Also in the bill is the proposal to allow local authorities to create lanes reserved for vehicles which are less polluting and carpooling in a bid to reduce congestion. 
Up to date transport info
The law also proposes that there should be comprehensive access to information on transport solutions, timetables and fares, both in the city and in the countryside. 
A platform offering information on transport networks across France, including for cyclists, rail and bus passengers and people carpooling will be made public by the end of 2021.
Support for job seekers 
There will be transport support for job seekers however the exact details of this plan have not been worked out. 
The railways 
A total of nearly €5 billion will be spent each year on restoring and developing the country's railways, with trains servicing rural areas a priority.
This will see the development of new lines, such as Bordeaux-Toulouse and Montpellier-Perpignan.

Member comments

  1. We are fortunate to have, in our region (66), the €1bus service. It’s brilliant.
    Of course; it only runs to a very limited timetable that fails to cover, for instance, late night journeys.
    But, for everyday trips; shopping, work, administration, etc., it can’t be faulted.

  2. This doesn’t address the issue of going where you need to go when you need to be there. The infrastructure in rural areas is so poor whole villages anjd sectors, schools have dwindled and died, the majority for want of a viable communications and transport system. The disregard of the Government for rural areas has become endemic. Thus agriculture has dispensed with manpower, becoming extensively mechanised, and young people have flocked to the cities, both for education and for work. Families have been disrupted and the lack of parental guidance has led to ancillary social, welfare and employment problems. Within the logistics of running a country, one can no more ignore communications (Broadband or even ADSL are still not available everywhere) and Transport (since the railways were dismantled in the 1960’s many villages dwindled to become an open air retirement home. Families with children, enterprises and schools, commerces, post offices, libraries, doctors, dentists, services all diminished. Transport was one of the many requirements that, with its loss, accelerated the loss of communities. It will take more than shuttles in rural areas. There are radical moves that need to be made.

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.