Mobility & Urbanization Policies in France

Everywhere in Europe, the preoccupation of the day is how to upgrade transportation infrastructure and adopt policies to meet the demand of a growing urban population. Multi-modal mobility schemes are becoming the urban planning paradigm through which Europe seeks to meet these challenges while also responding to pressure on being efficient and sustainable with energy use to fight climate change.

The policies in transportation planning and network development are as diverse as are the member countries of the European Union. The common European goal is to facilitate and provide easy access to mass transportation to citizens while maximizing energy and drastically cutting emissions of CO2.

This article focuses on mass transit planning and development patterns in France. The French scheme seeks to face the same major challenges that most world’s large metropolis face: congestion, pollution, aging of infrastructure, cost and greening the source of energy. Transportation in France is responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions. Paris is among world’s cities that have a high toll of air pollution.

The Multi-modal Mobility, what are we talking about?

In France and elsewhere this policy in transport functions through the prism of multi-modal modality.  A general definition is the ease and efficiency of route in which individuals and goods get from point A to point B using two or more modes of transportation on a continuous network with the slightest interruption.

Here we are concerned with urban mobility in France and in particular the basin of life (metropolitan area) of Ile de France. Therefore, multi-modal transport schemes mean that mass transit systems provide various modes of sharing systems, hubs, relays points where one can hop on a bus, light rail, train or bicycle.

In the Parisian Metropolitan area, the challenge is to make the transportation network and system work with fluidity, efficiently, proximity and accessibility to all.  That means building a network that takes into consideration people that use wheelchairs such as seniors, or infants and others with reduced physical mobility. That also means a system that issues only one ticket regardless how many networks or modes of transportation are chosen during a single journey – eliminating the needs to buy different tickets.  A system that reduces travel time at all scales: locally, regionally, nationally, and cross borders.

The public requires their mass transit system to grow in a smart way, using the latest technologies and connectivity to provide information.  Up-to-the-minute information that the public needs to decide and plan their travel itinerary, at any given moment. When is the next bus leaving from my stop? Will I make my train connection? Is my train running?

These are questions everyone needs to answer when deciding the combination of mass transportation that gets them to their destination in the quickest and most comfortable way.

Photo Credit: Philippe Paul

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