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“Autolib”, Public car sharing scheme to launch in Paris Oct 1

September 28th, 2011 1 comment

Autolib is a new public car sharing scheme that will launch in Paris at a limited number of places this Saturday October 1st. Its name from comes “Vélib” (vélo + liberté = bike + freedom), so it means “car freedom”.

Stations will be opening gradually throughout Paris, with the network completion date set for May 31, 2012.

The total number will be around 1120 stations throughout the region, with on average 6 cars per station, where they can be recharged. There will be a clear touch screen at each station to help customers with the steps for renting. As you could expect, they’re also hiring.

You can see some preview pictures here and below. Below the pictures you’ll see an article in French describing the launch.

You can also read this New York Times article from April that mentions the program.

Les Autolib de Bolloré en avance sur le timing
Stratégies
le 27 septembre 2011

Les premières voitures électriques en libre-service Autolib, conçues par le groupe Bolloré, circuleront dans les rues de Paris dès le samedi 1er octobre, soit deux mois avant le lancement précédemment annoncé. A l’occasion de la Nuit blanche parisienne, 66 Blue Car seront mises en service et 33 stations ouvertes, avant une montée en puissance progressive. Le Syndicat mixte Autolib avait signé le 25 février dernier une convention de délégation de service public avec le groupe Bolloré, qui va investir 50 millions d’euros dans l’affaire et prendre en charge l’entretien et l’assurance des véhicules. Vincent Bolloré, PDG du groupe, a affirmé au début de l’année que d’ici à 2016, jusqu’à 5 000 véhicules électriques pourraient être offerts en libre-service à Paris et dans sa banlieue. Le prix de l’abonnement devrait être de 7 euros la demi-heure et des abonnements mensuel et hebdomadaire seront aussi proposés.

Paris RER traffic to be slow Friday May 13th

I guess Friday the 13th is bad luck at times….

Just to give you a heads up, there will be some disruptions on the Paris RER suburban lines this Friday (metro, bus, and tram lines should not be affected).

Below you’ll see a notice from the Paris public transport service RATP. You can read an article in French about the demonstrations here.

Good luck!

Trafic normal sur l’ensemble des lignes RATP et Transilien SNCF.
A noter, vendredi 13 mai, une manifestation sur la voie publique, pour plus d’infos, cliquer sur Manifestations.

Prévisions à 24 heures pour le vendredi 13 mai 2011 :
A la suite des préavis des syndicats CGT, FO, SUD, et UNSA pour la journée du vendredi 13 mai, la RATP prévoit un trafic :

Métro : Trafic normal.
Le service sera renforcé sur les lignes 1, 4, 6 et 14 du métro.

RER A zone RATP : 1 train sur 4.
Interconnexion maintenue à Nanterre-Préfecture.
La SNCF prévoit 1 train sur 2 entre Nanterre-Préfecture et Cergy / Poissy.

RER B zone RATP :
La RATP prévoit 1 train toutes les demi-heures aux heures de pointe
entre Denfert-Rochereau et Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse / Robinson.
Tous les trains auront pour départ et terminus Denfert-Rochereau.
L’interconnexion à Gare du Nord avec la SNCF ne sera pas assurée.
La SNCF prévoit 1 train sur 2 entre Gare du Nord et Aéroport Charles de Gaulle / Mitry-Claye.

Bus et Tramway : Trafic normal.

Communiqué de presse version PDF, cliquer ici.

La RATP met à la disposition de ses voyageurs
un numéro vert : 0 800 15 11 11 et pour les téléphones mobiles : wap.ratp.fr

G20 Paris meeting to slightly disrupt traffic Feb. 19

February 19th, 2011 No comments

The G20 Finance Ministers will be meeting from today until tomorrow at Bercy in Paris.
You can see more about it in French here at La Tribune.

Because of this meeting, the Paris public transport network, RATP, is foreseeing disruptions, including the complete closing of Boulevard Bercy in the 12ème arrondissement from 6am to 7pm on Feb. 19. More information is below from the RATP site. Metro is not affected, but you will see that numerous bus lines will be. Check back at RATP for updates.

A noter, samedi 19 février, trois manifestations sur la voie publique :

1 – De 06h00 à 19h00, fermeture du boulevard de Bercy à la suite de la réunion des ministres des finances du G20.
Lignes de Bus concernées : 24 et 87.

2 – A partir de 13h30, rassemblement au niveau de la station de métro Château Rouge, puis défilé par les boulevards Barbès et Magenta jusqu’à la place de la République où est prévue la dislocation du cortège.
Lignes de Bus concernées : 20, 26, 30, 31, 32, 38, 39, 42, 43, 47, 48, 54, 56, 65, 75 et 85.

3 – A partir de 14h00, rassemblement statique place de la République.
Lignes de Bus concernées : 20, 56, 65 et 75.

French strikes go into overdrive

October 19th, 2010 10 comments

Following on my post about Oct. 19 planned strikes, they are well underway across the country. You can see specials in New York Times as well as here too with pictures, BBC News, Libération, and Figaro. BBC even has Q&A about the strikes. English translations of French press commentary can be read here. BBC has pictures here.

France 24 has a travel survival guide posted as well, stating that disruptions could continue for the rest of the month. I’ll be sure to keep you informed.

Paris metro and suburban rail line updates can be found on the RATP website. At the time of this posting, metro line traffic was getting back to normal, but bus lines were still disrupted. RER trains are running 2 out of 3 for the RER A, 1 out of 2 for RER B (the Charles de Gaulle Airport line).

You can see the status of your trains in Ile de France (Paris region) for RER trains on this website. You can get more info on SNCF trains here. You can find information for other metro areas transport below, mostly in French. You can see the status of departures and arrivals in the main train stations at Gares en Mouvement website.

Aéroports de Paris (which runs Orly, Roissy Charles de Gaulle and Beauvais airports) said to expect possible delays, cancellations and other inconveniences on Oct. 19 and after. Check with your airlines, as some were asked to cancel flights.

Other major cities and their transport systems below with relevant updates:
Lyon, Grenoble, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Lille, Nice, Nantes, Rennes, Dijon, Brest, Caen, La Rochelle, Le Havre, Montpellier

You should know as well that almost 3000 gas stations at supermarkets (50% of supermarkets) are almost or completely out of fuel, as fuel depots are blocked around the country by strikers. 4000 stations are being affected by a slowdown in provisions, but François Fillon says there should be a “return to normal in the next four to five days.” Sarkozy said he will respond “with force” to get the economy back going. In the meantime, here are some tips about how to find a station.

BBC posted this info from the IEA concerning the fuel shortage:

-France, like other European countries, has at least 90 days of oil reserves
-Emergency reserves are held by oil industry and last for 30 days
-Strategic reserves are controlled by the government and last for 60 days
-The reserves are divided between crude and “oil products” – petrol, diesel and heating oil
-The reserves are held at France’s 12 refineries and 100 oil depots

It seems the participation at midday is down from last week, but it is still quite significant. President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister François Fillon are determined to pass the reform, with Sarkozy calling it his “duty”. The reform is set to be voted on by the French Sénat tomorrow. Figaro has a fantastic, detailed chart of what the reform proposes. As you will see, fonctionnaires remain the aristocracy of France, weighing on pensions even more.

In addition to transport, some schools are closed as well as the post offices. 400 high schools are blocked on strike around the country (including the one next to my apartment), with violence breaking out at some like in Nanterre. There were some quite vulgar signs and banners that I will not detail here, but one could say that the lycéens are not happy. Youth feel like raising the retirement age will be to their detriment, not only for working longer but also for leaving older people in jobs that they feel could prevent them from getting jobs. But that is only if the economy cannot diversify and produce jobs for young graduates.

Since Socialist president François Mitterrand lowered the retirement age from 65 to 60 in 1981, the unemployment rate has averaged 9.5% from 1983 to 2010, based on many factors including especially rigid labor laws that make it costly for companies to hire (payroll taxes can reach almost 50%, so that for an employee making 2000 euros/month, the company is paying about 4000 euros). So while I understand the worries of students who want to secure a job after their studies, I certainly do not think raising the retirement age will take away their jobs. How many 20 year-olds take jobs that 60 year-olds take, anyway?

What France needs is to raise the retirement age, and 62 is a reasonable level to start with (it will go higher after), and it needs to encourage private industry, venture capital, entrepreneurship and reduce costs for companies to give them incentives to hire. There is a traditionally anti-business sentiment in France, akin to the anti-government feelings in the US. But I think in the past couple years our countries have started to bridge that gap slowly – but there remains undeniable cultural disparity.

A couple of interesting polls give insight into the situation. The first one asks “Do you think the strikes and protests are beginning to lose steam?”, and over 58% said yes, but this was conducted by the Figaro, which is center-right. The second one, still by Figaro, asks if the government should use force to gain access to fuel depots that are blocked. The result? An overwhelming 80% said yes. Indeed, Sarkozy said that he would do this, because the economy is being hit by these strikes

Figaro TV news is at the bottom of this posting to give you an inside look at the violence between youth and police. I’ll update this week as we go along. Good luck!

OrlyBus shuttle to Paris Orly Airport slowed down until April 2011

October 14th, 2010 1 comment

For those flying out of or into Paris Orly, you should know that for public transport into downtown Paris, there will be significant delays on the OrlyBus shuttle due to highway work on A6b. This started in April and will likely continue until April 2011, perhaps longer (see message below). There are other options to get to and from Orly. Bon voyage and safe travels!

Orlybus… ralentissement sur la ligne !

A partir du 1er avril et sur une durée d’un an, la couverture de l’autoroute A6b va perturber la circulation. Des ralentissements sont à prévoir sur la ligne Orlybus. Il vous est conseillé de prévoir ces aléas dans la préparation de votre itinéraire.

French ongoing strikes Oct. 12, and perhaps more after

October 11th, 2010 1 comment

If you’re lounging in the sun at Jardin Luxembourg, know that heated debate is going on in the Sénat building next to you.

Following strikes and demonstrations Sep. 7, Sep. 23 and Oct. 2 against government proposals to reform the pension and retirement system in France (including raising the general age from 60 to 62), the main unions (CFDT, CFTC, CGT, FO, SUD, UNSA-GATC…) have called for yet another day of “action” on the streets.

Laurence Parisot, President of MEDEF (the National Council of French Employers, basically a CEO club), said these strikes would continue to undermine the reputation of France abroad as a reliable place to do business. Prime Minister François Fillon meanwhile said it could well take a “decade” before France balances its budget. As The Economist wrote, President Sarkozy is trying to pass this crucial reform in the midst of a reputation comeback effort at home and abroad.

Conservative daily Le Figaro presents a great special report on the retirement reform here. It also stated that this is a “decisive week” for the strike movement, but only 31% of French support a strike that could be extended during this week or longer but 71% support the reasons behind the social movement, nuances that match historical support for resistance to government reform that is badly needed to get the government budget in order. Many strikers want to see taxes raised on the wealthy, such as an elimination of the current ceiling of 50% tax rate on the wealthiest.

RATP, the Parisian region transport authority, has posted updates for tomorrow’s traffic here. Metro lines 1, 11, 14 should have no problems. Line 6 will have 75% traffic; lines 3, 4 , 8, 13 will have 66% traffic; and line 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 will have 50% traffic. For RER suburban rail lines, RER A will have 50% traffic, RER B will have 20% traffic (so for CDG airport, I’d advise you to take alternate transport: Roissybus to/from metro Opéra, a taxi or Air France shuttles). Orly transport options are listed too.

SNCF, the national railway operator, has posted information as well here on the possibly ‘ongoing’ strikes (so, which could be repeated over several days). You can find information for other metro areas transport below, mostly in French. You can see the status of departures and arrivals in the main train stations at Gares en Mouvement website, one of the few things I like at SNCF (though overall I wish the U.S. had an impressive HSR system)

Aéroports de Paris (which runs Orly, Roissy Charles de Gaulle and Beauvais airports) said to expect possible delays, cancellations and other inconveniences on Oct. 12, notably because of Air France workers on strike. Air France posts information here on the strikes.

Other major cities and their transport systems below with relevant updates:
Lyon, Grenoble, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Lille, Nice, Nantes, Rennes, Dijon, Brest, Caen, La Rochelle, Le Havre, Montpellier

Bon courage to everyone. Just take a deep breath, buy a baguette, drink some vin rouge, and complain against strikers. You’re becoming French by the moment. There are many wonderful things in this country, try to enjoy your time here!

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