Travel of any kind seems like a distant dream at the moment, but if all goes to plan, Parisians may be able to take a flying taxi to the airport in 2030.
RATP, which runs the Paris public transport system, is in the process of working together with Aéroports de Paris (ADP) and Choose Paris Region, the government agency set up to promote the French capital, on getting the new taxi system up and flying.
“We're envisaging some thousand flights per day,” Marie-Claude Dupuis, director of strategy, innovation and development at RATP, told Le Figaro.
While they won't be fully operating until 2030 at the earliest, the first flying taxis will apparently do test runs in June 2021.
“During the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, our goal is to do demonstration flights with people on board,” said Dupuis.
By then, “three operators should be operational,” she said.
On Monday, RATP, ADP and Choose Paris Region decided on 31 companies out of 150 candidates who will be part of the new ecosystem.
France is not alone in looking to move traffic off its roads and up in the air. As countries worldwide want to upgrade their urban mobility, businesses are jumping on the trend to join the booming market.
A 40-minute journey (depending on traffic) from La Défense, west of the French capital, to the northern airport Charles de Gaulle, will be slashed down to 15 minutes.
Most of the taxis are electric, while some run on hydrogen, so they are less polluting than regular cars.
However the model is still too expensive and the operators are working on how to cut costs by increasing the number of seats in each car to six, up from two currently.
“To be profitable, operators will also have to free up the pilot's seat,” Dupuis said, “even if that means steering the machine from the ground before switching to a fully autonomous vehicle.”
In other words, passengers will be sticking to regular taxis or the RER for the foreseeable future.