Paris Now Considers Free Public Transportation To Reduce Pollution

"Our priority is to modernize transport."

icture taken on April 30, 2009 of a Paris Metro sign.
JACQUES DEMARTHON / Staff / Getty Images

Is there anything left for socialist France to offer for free? Apparently so. According to Yahoo News, the mayor of Paris is considering making public transportation in the city free to reduce air pollution.

Speaking with French daily Les Echos, the socialist mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo hoped a debate on the possibility of free public transportation could commence before the municipal elections in 2020. Hidalgo hopes that the move would help air quality by reducing the number of cars on the road.

"To improve public transport we should not only make it more extensive, more regular and more comfortable, we must also rethink the fares system," she stated.

Hidalgo's proposal faces fierce opposition from conservative politician Valerie Pecresse, head of the Ile-de-France region around Paris, who said it would place an unfair burden on taxpayers.

"Today, our priority is to modernize transport. Ticket sales bring in three billion euros ($3.7 billion) a year ... we need that money," Pecresse told Radio Classique.

The president of the area's transport authority IDFM had also rejected Hidalgo's socializing of public transportation.

Pecresse feels that the policy would unfairly saddle the burden on people living in the Paris suburbs while Parisians enjoy free transport. Hidalgo has not stated if the proposal would cover just the 2.2 million people living in Paris or the 12 million living in the city and the Ile-de-France region.

Hidalgo has said she will model the plan after Germany and other European cities that have it in place, such as Estonia's capital Tallinn.

"Hidalgo has pushed through a series of measures to cut urban pollution, including turning highways along the Seine river into public parks and building more bike lanes. By 2020, Paris plans to ban all petrol and diesel-fuelled cars from the city centre," reports Yahoo News.

Paris has previously imposed license plate-based driving restrictions on cars when air pollution reached unsafe levels.

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