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In Dunkirk, free public transport is acclaimed


In one year, bus use jumped 65% on weekdays and 125% on weekends.

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Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, with Patrice Vergriete, his counterpart of Dunkerque, on October 30, 2018, the day before the launch of the DK'Bus. PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP

In the urban community of Dunkirk, bus transportation has been free for a year and the consequences are quite spectacular. Between September 1, 2018 and August 31, 2019, attendance jumped 65% on weekdays and 125% over the weekend, an average of 85%.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Dunkirk, the largest community in Europe to adopt free transport

By becoming, on September 1, 2018, the largest agglomeration of France and Europe to provide free for all on its entire bus network, Dunkerque has profoundly changed the habits of 200 000 inhabitants of the 17 cities of its urban community. A study by researchers from the VIGS association (Innovative cities and knowledge management) made it possible to quantify the number of new users: 50%, 48% of whom gave up the car, especially retirees or executives.

"It is unheard of this modal shift , explains the president of the urban community of Dunkirk, Patrice Vergriete, also mayor of the city. And even if we can not measure precisely the impact on air pollution [due to the presence of ArcelorMittal, considered the biggest industrial polluter of the Hauts-de-France] , the environmental issue is a success . "

"We gained 20% more customers"

Some central parking lots, usually full, are now empty for a third. A unique opportunity for the municipal team who already imagine housing constructions, businesses or park amenities. Researcher and chairman of the scientific committee of the Observatory of Free Transport Cities, Maxime Huré explains: "The particularity of Dunkirk is that it is a political project. Free admission is part of a more general downtown redevelopment project: it is a global urban policy. "

In 2014, the decision to abandon the project to build an 8,000-seat sports and entertainment hall, which the previous mayor wanted to take advantage of a new free transport offer, resulted in 65 million euros in a complete facelift of the bus network. The entire city center has benefited from these developments. After two difficult years, to undergo the work, the manager of the bar L'Eclipse smiles: "The place and sidewalks were redone and, now, with the two bus stops in front of our store, we won 20 % more customers. Marilyne Gore was among the skeptics: "I did not believe it but it's really a revolution, this bus. "

Source: lemonde

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