PUBLIC transport across Ile-de-France will be free until Sunday, as authorities try to cut dangerously high pollution levels - and similar schemes have been adopted in four other cities.
In Paris, the metro, and local bus and train networks have been operating free of charge since 5.30am today, and will be free to use until the network closes on Sunday night.
The Vélib' bike hire and Autolib’ car hire services are already free. Between 7am and 1pm yesterday, Autolib’ use among the scheme’s 103,000 subscribers rose 46%, while Vélib' use jumped 62% between 7am and 2pm. The services will offer free hire periods until the pollution alert passes.
Ile-de-France is on maximum alert for air pollution for a third day.
Jean-Paul Huchon, president of the regional transport authority said: “I ask all Parisians to use public transport this weekend.”
Elsewhere, public transport is free from today until Sunday in Caen and Rouen, while Reims and Grenoble have also introduced the scheme for today, to encourage motorists to leave their cars at home.
Speed restrictions on sections of motorway in Ile-de-France have had a “modest” effect on air pollution, said said Gilles Aymoz, of the Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie (ADEME).
Lorries were yesterday diverted from the Paris ringroad. At the request of the Paris police, vehicles over 3.5 tonnes were invited to take bypass routes to avoid the concentration of pollution in the immediate outskirts of the capital. “Some 500 lorries took the Francilienne ring road on Thursday,” prefect Jean-Paul Kihl told Le Parisien.
A lack of wind and cold nights followed by balmy days have triggered the rise in airpollution, regional air monitoring centres. In addition, emissions from cars and from heating in buildings and factories have added to the problem.