Paris makes public transport free in battle against air pollution

Image courtesy of Anne Hidalgo on Twitter
Image Courtesy of Anne Hidalgo - Twitter

Parisian officials have been forced to take drastic steps after the city was revealed to be suffering its worst winter pollution for at least a decade.

For the third day running, all public transport in the city, and in the 22 communes of La Petite Couronne, has been made free to use, and certain vehicles have been banned from entering the city.

Only drivers of cars with odd-numbered registrations were allowed in the capital yesterday, with drivers of even-number vehicles given the same opportunity on Tuesday. More than 1,700 drivers were found in contravention of these rules on Tuesday, and faced fines of up to €35 (£30).

Cars exempt from this ban include foreign and emergency vehicles, hybrids, electric vehicles and those carrying three or more people.

The Syndicat des transports d' Île-de-France (STIF) yesterday asked transport operators SNCF, RATP and OPTILE to make the public transport free for the third day.

"The object is to encourage drivers to privilege public transport," it said.

The restrictions come after Airparif, the air quality monitoring network in Île-de-France, published readings of PM10 at more than 80 microgrammes per cubic metre of air particles.

The agency said that a combination of emissions from vehicles and domestic wood fires as well as near windless conditions meant that pollutants had not been dispersed.

On Tuesday, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted a photo of the city blanketed in smog, with the caption: "Paris today. Proof of the need to reduce the place of the car in the city centre."