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How much of France’s public transport will be running after May 11th?

Public transport in France is at present at a virtual standstill, but operators say they will be able to restore services 'quite quickly' after the lockdown begins to be loosened on May 11th.

How much of France's public transport will be running after May 11th?
There is currently a skeleton service on the country's trains, buses and Metros. Photo: AFP

At present in France – with the majority of the population confined to their homes – public transport operators are operating the barest of skeleton services.

On the railways just 6 percent of the high speed TGV trains are running, fewer even than the first days of the mass transportation strikes in December.

READ ALSO When will I be able to travel to France again?

Train services will be increased from May 11th onwards. Photo: AFP

While in Paris around 30 percent of Metro, bus and tram services still are still running, many of them concentrated in the suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis which has a high number of keyworkers such as healthcare workers, street cleaners and supermarket staff who commute into Paris.

But transport bosses say they anticipate services being expanded slightly in the coming days, and moving to much higher levels from May 11th.

From May 11th schools will start to return and many more people will be going to work, although people who can work from home are asked to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Junior Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told BFMFTV: “Today we have 6 percent of the TGVs, which is very low, but we are in a position to move quite quickly to 50 percent of TGVs” from May 11th.

He added that in the greater Paris region, the target was 70 percent of suburban Transilien and RER services running by May 11th.

In Paris services will also be expanded from May 11th, but RATP president Catherine Guillouard says that social distancing methods recommended for the end of the lockdown 'will not be possible' on the city's crowded Metro system.

RATP president Catherine Guillouard. Photo: AFP 

Both the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo and the president of Île-de-France Mobilities Valérie Pécresse have called for masks to be made compulsory on the city's public transport, and, although this has not been confirmed yet, the government says this is likely.

During the strict lockdown, passenger numbers on the city's transport network have fallen to just four percent of the usual levels.

And those who are still travelling are heavily concentrated in the suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, which has already seen its transport levels rising.

Guillouard told France Info: “Buses have gone from 30 percent to 50 percent, trams will go from 30 percent to 60 percent, which means that we are in a position to increase tram ridership to 60 percent, and from today, line 13 will operate at 40 percent of its usual capacity. On Monday we will increase to 50 percent”.

But the big changes will come from May 11th, when 70 percent of normal services will be running.

On lines 1 and 14, which are automated, services will run at 100 percent from May 11th.

Guillouard added that 8,500 RATP staff were currently not working, either because they are sick or for childcare reasons, although that number is expected to fall once the schools reopen.

For those who prefer not to take the Metro, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is working on a plan to expand bike lanes and create new temporary lanes along the route of several Metro lines.

Although the government is yet to finalise its plan for loosening the lockdown restrictions, president Emmanuel Macron has already said that the end of lockdown will not be on a regional basis, and they would work to lift restrictions on travelling between different parts of France.

 

 

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TRAVEL NEWS

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Two major changes that were due to come into force in 2022 for travellers entering the EU - an enhanced passport scanning system and the introduction of a €7 visa for tourists - have been delayed for a year.

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Although both the EES and ETIAS schemes are still due to be introduced in the European Commission has pushed back the start dates for both until 2023.

It comes amid a chaotic summer for travel in Europe, with airports struggling with staff shortages and strikes while some crossings from the UK to France have been hit by long delays as extra post-Brexit checks are performed during the peak holiday season. 

The two separate changes to travel in the EU and Schengen zone were originally due to come into effect in 2020, but were delayed because of the pandemic. Now the EES system is expected to come into effect in May 2023, while ETIAS will come into effect in November 2023. 

The EES – Entry and Exit System – is essentially enhanced passport scanning at the EU’s borders and means passports will not only be checked for ID and security, but also for entry and exit dates, in effect tightening up enforcement of the ’90 day rule’ that limits the amount of time non-EU citizens can spend in the Bloc without having a visa.

It will not affect non-EU citizens who live in an EU country with a residency permit or visa.

There have been concerns that the longer checks will make transiting the EU’s external borders slower, a particular problem at the UK port of Dover, where the infrastructure is already struggling to cope with enhanced post-Brexit checks of people travelling to France.

You can read a full explanation of EES, what it is and who is affects HERE.

The ETIAS system will apply to all non-EU visitors to an EU country – eg tourists, second-home owners, those making family visits and people doing short-term work.

It will involve visitors registering in advance for a visa and paying a €7 fee. The visa will be valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips – essentially the system is very similar to the ESTA visa required for visitors to the USA. 

Residents of an EU country who have a residency card or visa will not need one.

You can read the full details on ETIAS, how it works and who it affects HERE.

Both systems will apply only to people who do not have citizenship of an EU country – for example Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians – and will be used only at external EU/Schengen borders, so it won’t be required when travelling between France and Germany, for example. 

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