Liberté!

Paris temporarily makes all public transport free and limits car travel to curb pollution

International Transportation
Paris pollution five years ago. (Courtesy Alberto Hernández / Flickr)
Paris pollution five years ago. (Courtesy Alberto Hernández / Flickr)

Parisian commuters have been enjoying free access to public transport in the past two days as the city attempts to reduce pollution amidst an air quality crisis. Drivers with odd numbered license plates were banned from traveling in the city yesterday, as were those with even numbered plates the day before with exceptions being for hybrid and electric vehicles, and those carrying three or more people.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted a picture of the city’s pollution saying: “Proof of the need to reduce the car’s place in the city center.” Drivers caught defying the authorities could face a $37 fine or even have their vehicles impounded. The move came after it emerged that Paris was enduring the worst winter pollution in a decade. Lack of wind has allowed pollution remain in the city prompting Hidalgo to act.

Motorists, however, do not appear to be particularly bothered by the ban on driving, with many accepting the fines. According to the Independent, 1,700 motorists were fined on Tuesday.

The Local reports that in making the services free of charge, Paris is losing $4.3 million a day—$12.9 so far including today which has been the third day of free travel. The temporary scheme will stay in place until Friday. Debates surrounding the effectiveness of the implementation have also surfaced. On Tuesday, the first day of the scheme, pollution levels actually increased.

Phys.org, meanwhile, notes that while pollution levels are bad by Paris’s standards (the offending particulates “PM10” being above 80 micrograms per cubic meter of air), cities such as New Delhi and Beijing easily surpass these PM10 levels. In New Delhi today, PM10 levels were reportedly at 600/m^3.

Public transport in Paris is also undergoing a massive development. The infrastructure project has so far seen Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma, and Dominique Perrault all jump on board for the Paris subway overhaul.

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