Quality of cities, the magazine of the RATP group that shows THE CITY DIFFERENTLY.

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Dreaming cities

A new era for urban transport

Is the city still capable of reinventing itself to face the challenges of climate change? Such a city is only possible in the context of congestion-free, decarbonised mobility, devoid of all cars.

Pedestrian- and bike-friendly cities, where you can get off the bus to share a car, or come out of the metro to take a bike, are no longer a utopia. With decarbonisation, mobility is reinventing itself and with it, the urban imagination.
Like Ljubljana, Barcelona, London and Brussels, Oslo is moving towards adopting major incentives to ensure a car-free city centre. The Norwegian capital, which introduced congestion charges as early as the 1990s, has been pursuing a progressive Car-free Liveability Programme for several years. Car-free streets, withdrawal of parking places, improved access for pedestrians and cyclists, creation of heart zones (heart-shaped car-free zones around schools): by 2030, Oslo hopes to reduce its CO2 emissions by 95% compared with 2009 levels.

For Laura Foglia, in charge of mobility issues at the think tank The Shift Project, this shift from the “car system” to other models is possible elsewhere than in these pioneering cities, provided that proximity is re-injected and that the city centre retains places of employment and consumption, and public areas in which cycling and walking are pleasant and safe. She also points out that the power of the car model was built on an imaginary world, which allowed millions of consumers to dream of freedom. Leaving behind the all-car thinking also means revealing a different city, in which proximity reigns supreme. The main obstacle? The deeply rooted conviction that it is impossible to break out of such a firmly established model. Yet this is exactly what happened when the car imposed itself in our cities, unceremoniously ousting horses, bicycles and pedestrians.

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"Improving practical walking conditions also works in favour of public transport."

Laura Foglia
Mobility sector manager at The Shift Project and consultant in the transition to low-carbon mobility.

Are cities capable of breaking out of the “all-car” system?

L.F. We are all wondering how to move away from this entrenched system that has been shaping our cities for decades. It is a legitimate question, but at the same time, focusing only on this issue can be an illusion: we can always change urban forms, making them evolve, even if these changes are slow. After all, when we redesigned cities around the “car system” we did not hesitate to shake up existing forms of mobility.

So, the question is rather how we see this new, less car-dependent city and how we imagine it. The only limit is our imagination, and we can look at what some Spanish, Italian and Danish cities have done to realise just how much is possible.

What can be done in practice?

L.F. It is clear from looking at the outskirts of large- and medium-sized cities that public areas are not really designed for walking or cycling. To change mobility, we need to re-inject proximity, ensure that city centres and their inner and outer suburbs retain places of employment and consumption, and ensure that getting around on foot is pleasant and safe.

Improving practical walking conditions also works in favour of public transport. If you take a bus to a business park on the outskirts, and the rest of your journey on foot is not safe, this is a barrier.

Can Mobility as a Service (MaaS) help change mobility behaviour?

L.F. Of course, it is very important to have a single application that gives access to information on different transport modes, to be able to buy a ticket or rent a bike and get around easily. In this sense, MaaS removes a major barrier to the use of alternatives to the car.

However, it will only be effective if what it offers in virtual form actually exists in the real world. If you take the RER to a hub where you plan to use car sharing, and that service is not available there, mobility habits will not change.

LOW-CARBON MOBILITY

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“Regulating flows and public areas, guaranteeing accessibility to services for all, is a democratic issue.”

Marie-Claude Dupuis
RATP Group strategy, sustainable development and real estate director and member of the Executive Committee

Does regenerating the city mean travelling less to pollute less?

M-C.D. Transport is certainly the activity that contributes the most (31%) to greenhouse gas emissions in France. But private cars are the worst emitters (81% of transport emissions)(1). So, it is not a question of travelling less, but travelling better, using a mobility mix that combines decarbonisation of public transport, promotion of soft mobility and sharing and integration of innovative solutions such as autonomous vehicles.

Avoiding travel altogether may be tempting, but it is not possible for everyone. Only those who live in the heart of the city, near shops and services, and who can work from home. And travelling is not only for getting to work or going shopping. It is also about forming economic and social ties, promoting diversity, an effective way to combat ghettoisation.

So how can we decongest mobility in public areas and better regulate it?

M-C.D. By organising multi-modal transport in the regions, which is what Mobility as a Service (MaaS) allows, both for public transport authorities and for passengers, who can use it to create their own journey by combining several different modes.

By regulating flows and public areas. By guaranteeing accessibility to services for all, which is a major democratic issue.

How is RATP Group contributing to this?

M-C.D. We are pioneers in MaaS and we carry out research projects and experiments designed to observe uses of the city to objectify its development, to measure flows in transport, and to promote the dynamic management of public areas.

We have also just launched a cross-cutting innovation programme called “Smarter City”, which aims to reflect and act on all the major issues of the city of the future, around themes such as the rhythms of cities, the ecological transition, and the link between new forms of mobility and proximity. By bringing together our businesses and experts in this way, we want to contribute to better city living.

100%

MaaS, 100% multi-modal

By giving passengers the tools they need to change their habits, MaaS, or Mobility as a Service, has established itself as a powerful lever for transforming urban mobility. The Bonjour RATP app, launched in 2021, not only allows you to plan your journey by metro, tram, bus or RER and buy tickets, but also to book a car-pooling journey, or walk to the next bus stop or the final destination guided by Mappy. Moving around the city becomes easy and efficient.

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