New Bus, New Métro

photo: cafe vancouver
A quiet bistro between the Hôtel de Ville and Beaubourg.

Social Engineering Takes a Hit

Paris:- Sunday, 11. October 1998:- The week's partial public transport strike dribbled to an end yesterday, as most SNCF-run trains resumed normal service.

The Gare du Nord and the RER lines 'B' and 'D' were still experiencing some delays today, which may persist on Monday.

The immediate cause of the strikes was operating personnel's concern with aggression by passengers; mostly of a hooligan nature. Many long suburban trains operate with only a driver and can carry up to 1,500 passengers. Many end-of-line stations are remote and the trains are vulnerable to random attacks.

The spark that set off the labor action, was the stickup of the extra-remote Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche station, locatedphoto: centre pompidou teepee in the Marly forest, which was reported last week in this column.

The trainmen and women did not like the management's attitude about the situation, so some of them stopped work. This lead to commuters scrambling for alternate routes to get to work, and for some there was no choice but to take a couple of days' holiday.

Beaubourg's multimedia Info Centre - is open daily from 12:00 to 18:00, except Tuesdays. It looks like a tepee because it is one.

Except for a partial strike of RATP buses in Paris on Wednesday, the city itself was little affected. The east-west cross-region RER line 'A' from Marne-la-Vallée to Saint-Germain- en-Laye ran all week.

The striken areas were mainly the northeast to northwest, the southeast to southwest, and their links north-south through Paris - they were running from 25 to zero percent of their normal services.

Neither airport is served by Paris' métro service; but both are by the 'RER' and have shuttle-bus services. RER strikes usually result in a lot more cars on the roads, and this slows the buses down.

Both airports were probably affected. Charles-de-Gaulle by RER line 'B' and Orly by RER line 'C,' as both lines had reduced services. How much reduced, I don't know. These lines have different branches and parts of these lines are operated by both the RATP - not on strike - and the SNCF - on strike.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, speaking on TV-news on Thursday evening, promised increased security forces - to ride on the trains if necessary. He also promised that swift justice would be dealt to lawbreakers, citing some recent examples of charges, trials and immediate detentions. I think he mentioned the phrase, 'zero tolerance' as well.

On Friday, some SNCF trains outside of the Paris area were affected for the first time, but by yesterday schedules were returning to normal.

And Now the Good News

For the first time since 1945, the RATP has introduced a completely new bus line - the 88. Well, maybe the first since the Vanves- Austerlitz bus 89 started in 1961.

The new line is part of a RATP 'Project 2001,' which is intended to save Paris from the automobile - byphoto: carrousel du louvre thickening the bus network. The idea also it to increase the buses' average speed from a pokey 10 kph to a blazing 13 kph in Paris.

The Info Centre for the Ile-de-France is located in the Carrousel du Louvre.

Occasional travellers outnumber those who commute by bus, and more of these are expected to be attracted by the speed increase. Another plan in the works is to designate 15 routes as 'high-speed' lines.

These are ambitious plans for which there is little money available. Despite the rapid sound of the 'Project 2001' phrase, the plan is moving at a snail's pace, according to users' associations, which are increasing in numbers as well as noise.

The line 88 starts at the Quai André Citroën in the 15th arrondissement and runs to the Gare Montparnasse and down through the 14th to the Cité Universitaire.

One aspect to this line, and all lines, that users don't like is the 'noodle.' This is the result of one-way streets that force buses to use alternate streets on their return journeys; which sometime make it impossible for occasional passengers to find the 'return' busstop.

And Some More Good News

Next Wednesday, 14. October, the RATP will unveil its brand-new Météor line, which will be none other than its 14th métro line. It will run from the Madeleine to Tolbiac, to the new François- Mitterrand library.

For this opening, which coincides with the 100th annivesary of the métro itself, the RATP will have open-house on this line next weekend.

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