Northern French city to offer cash bonuses for carsharing on motorways

Up to €80 per month will initially be available to drivers who replace their usual solo journeys with carshare trips

A photo of a sign saying ‘covoiturage’ in French, which means ‘carsharing’
The plan to reduce the number of cars on the roads will initially apply to car journeys on the A1 and A23 motorways
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Drivers in Lille (Nord) are set to get an ‘Ecobonus’ of up to €80 per month to change their driving habits, including car sharing, in a bid to reduce the number of cars on the roads.

The plan from La Métropole européenne de Lille (MEL) is aiming to reduce congestion and air pollution, and is the first of its kind in France.

In a statement, the city said: “The programme consists of rewarding motorists from the metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas who agree to reduce their use of cars on certain busy roads during rush hour (from 7:00 to 9:00 and 16:30 to 18:30) when they used to use these routes alone on a daily basis.”

The plan will be rolled out gradually. It will start on the A1 and A23 motorways from 2023, in the direction in Lille at rush hour, and in the direction out of the city in the evening.

Each journey taken in a carshare rather than individual journey can be reimbursed up to €2, to a limit of €80 per month, paid directly into participants’ bank accounts.

The city is aiming to sign up 5,000 people by summer 2023, for an initial trial of nine months. It is initially aiming to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads at rush hour per day by 750 (from the 12,000 total).

Journeys and vehicles will be monitored via numberplate recognition and the use of an app. The statement explained: "In order to verify changes in behaviour, users will have to provide proof via an app on their smartphone, on a specific morning and evening timeslot, to be able to validate their replaced trips."

Once it has been rolled out completely, there will also be other ways to qualify for the plan.

Locals can also replace their usual journeys with:

  • Taking the train or bus
  • Using a bike
  • Working from home
  • Changing their working hours around peak times
  • ‘Hybrid’ methods, such as using your car to go to a train station or park-and-ride

Damien Castelain, president of the MEL, said that the plan was targeting “solo drivers”. He said: “With this Ecobonus, we are responding to the climate emergency with a concrete action: rewarding all those who no longer use their vehicles to travel on the MEL's major congested motorways.

“This is an opportunity to act directly on the behavior of users, to reward them for improving air quality.“

The plan is set to cost €9million over three years.

A similar project has already been implemented successfully in the Netherlands, specifically in Rotterdam since 2014. There, it involves up to 12,000 participants in different areas of the city centre area. It is estimated to avoid up to 5,000 rush hour trips per day on average on the targeted routes.

The measure in Lyon comes after the French government announced that it would fund a plan to give car sharers up to €100 each in 2023, if they used participating carsharing apps.

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