Drivers in Lille can now be paid to leave their car at home, as the city encourages people to car-share, take public transport, or work from home - in a first for France.
From yesterday, September 4, people who would otherwise have made their journey in their own car in the Métropole de Lille now benefit from being paid €2 per trip, up to a limit of €80 per month.
The ‘ecobonus’ scheme is being tested for the next nine months, and is the first of its kind for a city in France, taking inspiration from the Netherlands. The aim is to reduce traffic on the A1 and A23 motorways at peak times (during the morning and evening rush hours).
"The scheme has proved its effectiveness [in the Netherlands],” said Sébastien Le Prêtre, vice-president of the Lille European Metropolis and responsible for transport to FranceInfo. “[But] we will be the first city in France to embark on this experiment on this scale.”
Already, 3,000 people have signed up for the scheme.
A teacher, who lives 20km away from his work at a collège in the area, said: “I’ve decided to car-share with a colleague. We leave a little earlier in the morning, but we make up for it in terms of comfort. The stress of traffic jams can be pretty dire. Now we avoid them completely.”
And yet, the scheme has attracted criticism, with some Green MPs claiming it is not as eco-friendly or effective as it appears.
Pauline Ségard, councillor for Villeneuve d'Ascq and member of the city’s Green party, said: "Not everyone can work from home, not everyone can find a carshare, and not everyone can use public transport, which is not developed everywhere.
“There is nothing to suggest that this will reduce overall traffic,” she said.
But city representatives have denied this, saying that they predict the scheme will reduce traffic by 600 vehicles at peak times on the A1 motorway, and cut queues in half on the A23.
France already has a nationwide scheme - the covoiturage du quotidien (daily car-sharing scheme) - that offers up to €200 total for drivers who share cars, via participating apps, for short or long journeys. The aim is to boost the number of shared journeys to three million per day, up from the current 900,000.