THE ban on vehicles driving in Paris based on their registration plates will not be extended into tomorrow, it has been revealed.
The current restrictions on vehicles expires at midnight today and will not be renewed tomorrow, ecology minister Philippe Martin said.
He said the decision was taken, "in view of results" from today's ban on vehicles with even-numbered registration plates, which showed "a clear trend of improvement" of air pollution particles.
The news comes shortly after it was revealed that providing free public transport in Paris during the air pollution crisis has cost authorities €4m a day.
Jean-Paul Huchon, the president of Île-de-France and of the region’s transport authority STIF, said he was in discussion with the government for help to foot the bill for providing free public transport during the crisis.
Since Friday more than one-million extra journeys have been made on public transport in Île-de-France, authorities said.
The €4m covers the cost of extra services laid on to cope with increased demand and loss of earnings by transport operators.
Mr Huchon said he thought the restriction was "a good idea," but admitted it may be "too little, too late".
About 700 police officers at checkpoints in and around Paris this morning handed out more 3,800 fines to motorists ignoring the city's registration plate-based vehicle ban, which came into force at 5.30am today in an effort to reduce air pollution.
At 8am today, however, it was reported that half the usual number of cars were on the normally heavily clogged streets of Paris. The National Traffic Information Centre reported that it was monitoring bottlenecks of slow traffic extending 90km across Île-de-France, compared to nearly 250km on a normal weekday.
Earlier, government minister Cécile Duflot has thanked Paris residents for leaving their cars at home.
Speaking on BFM TV, Mme Duflot insisted the government “had to do something”.
She said: We are faced with a pollution peak that can be very dangerous, especially for the most vulnerable among us, such as babies and small children.”
So-called PM10 particulates are created by vehicles, heating and heavy industry. High levels can lead to asthma attacks as well as exacerbating respiratory and cardio-vascular problems.
There are exceptions. Electric and hybrid cars, taxis, and cars with at least three people on board are allowed to travel. But all trucks have been banned.
The full list of exceptions and a map of the affected areas is detailed here.
The smog over the French capital is the result of a string of warm days and cold nights. Air pollution in the city is at its worst level since 2007.
The Automobile Club Association warned in a statement that the restrictions "penalise low-income households and suburban families who need a car."
It added that traffic accounts for 15% of air pollution, and said car users were being treated as “useful scapegoats”.
On Friday, levels of the minute PM10 particles peaked at 180 microgrammes per cubic metre. The official safe level is 80 microgrammes or less. According to the Paris Air Quality Index, Friday’s air pollution level ranked alongside Beijing, one of the world’s most polluted cities.
The registration plate-based car ban was last implemented in Paris in 1997.
The restrictions extend to the following places:
Hauts-de-Seine (92): Montrouge, Malakoff, Vanves, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Boulogne-Billancourt, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Levallois-Perret, Clichy.
Seine-Saint-Denis (93): Saint-Ouen, Pantin, Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, Les Lilas, Bagnolet, Montreuil, Aubervilliers, Saint-Denis.
Val-de-Marne (94): Vincennes, Saint-Mandé, Charenton-le-Pont, Ivry-sur Seine, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, Gentilly.
Photo: BFM TV