French government announces plans for nationwide transport pass

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French government announces plans for nationwide transport pass
A man buys a train ticket at the entrance of the Saint-Lazare train station in Paris (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

Transport Minister Clément Beaune has announced a 'hackathon' with a single aim - to create a digital travel pass that can be used on all types of French public transport.


Beaune said on Wednesday that he hoped to develop a billet unique that can be used on long-distance SNCF trains, local transport services and city public transport such as the Paris and Marseille Metro.

But there's a catch - it hasn't been invented yet.

In an interview with 20 Minutes, Beaune said that he hopes the single ticket would "revolutionise the daily life of public transport users in France".

What is the billet unique?

As we mentioned it doesn't exist yet, so there are plenty of details as yet unconfirmed, but the plan as outline by Beaune would be to have a single travel pass that is compatible with all public transport system.


So for example users could use it on buses, trams and the Metro in Paris, get a train ticket to Marseille with the pass and then use it to get around Marseille via Metro or bus.

At present all French cities have their own transport operators, who all have different tickets, travel passes and apps which are not compatible with each other. For trains, users must buy tickets from SNCF (either on paper or via the SNCF Connect app).

Beaune's proposal is to create a single pass or app that can be used anywhere, although individual apps/passes will remain in operation - one ring to rule them all, if you like.

Individual pricing for tickets would remain the responsibility of local authorities or SNCF. 


When will it be available? 

The objective is by 2025.

Beaune told news website 20 Minutes that previously he thought it would take "at least ten years to do this, but I'm convinced that within two years we can develop a single ticket to go everywhere in France".

But it doesn't exist yet?

No, it's being developed as we speak.

Back in November, Beaune announced a "hackathon" - an event where people engage in rapid and collaborative computer science, typically in a short period of time like 24 or 48 hours - at the Cité des Sciences et Industrie in Paris. The event was set to run from February 7th to 8th.

The hackathon has one goal - innovating and designing the "transport ticket of the tomorrow" or the billet unique.

A jury at the hackathon will now select the best idea for producing a single-ticket compatible for travel across France. Over 70 different groups - from start-ups to individuals - participated in the event.

After the hackathon, the plans for the transport ticket will be taken to a government established working group whose job will be to "define the procedures for implementing a single transport ticket on a national scale," according to French daily Le Parisien.

A 'hackathon' - does that mean it will be a digital ticket?

Baune said that an app would "obviously be the easiest, as E-tickets can be recognised and read everywhere". 

READ MORE: How to find cheap train tickets in France

However, the minister did note that the single-ticket system would still need to be accessible to those less adapted to digital technology, particularly for the elderly.

Referencing Germany's €49 ticket - intended to improve train travel across the country - Beaune mentioned that the ticket could also come in a paper version.

"We're not starting from scratch," the minister said, referencing the Navigo pass in the Paris region, and the Korrigo pass in Brittany.

READ MORE: When is Germany’s €49 ticket coming - and how long will it last?

Eventually, Beaune said that he hoped such a ticket might be available on a Europe-wide scale, pending initial success in France.

How much could it cost?

Pricing for transport tickets will be left to local authorities, as it is now. However the minister added that it may be possible for the common ticket itself to lead local authorities to offer the same rates over time.


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Anonymous 2023/02/09 21:55
On a more limited scale, here in the San Francisco Bay Area we have a "Clipper" card (also recently an App) which can be used for 24 different local travel agencies all of which have different fares and rules; works great.
Anonymous 2023/02/09 18:19
Finally! I bought a card that let me travel all over Japan (buses, trains, ferries, everything!) over a decade ago. It was amazing, and so convenient! I have a Navigo card with Liberté or some such, but it's only good for the metro and trains in "Zone 1" in Île de France. I found that out the hard way when I tried to use it to go to CDG and had to pay a 35 euro ticket! :(

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