Owing to the “worst air pollution in a decade,” the city of Paris has made mass transit systems available free to use to the general public, for the second day running, according to reports.
The idea is to get as many people off the roads (out of personal vehicles) as possible. In addition to the temporary moratorium on public mass transit fees, city authorities moved to limit vehicle travel through the banning of drivers with even-numbered registration plates from the city on Wednesday (drivers with odd-numbered registration plates were banned on Tuesday).
Notably, the fines for those breaking the ban weren’t that severe, only up to €35. So, quite a lot of people seem to have ignored the ban and tried their luck. There were reportedly more than 1,700 drivers fined on Tuesday for ignoring the selective ban.
It should be noted that the selective ban apparently doesn’t apply to electric vehicles or to “hybrids,” and neither does it apply to foreign vehicles — or, interestingly, to vehicles with more than 3 people in them.
In conjunction with the decisions, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, commented that the dangerous levels of air pollution were proof that there needed to be a permanent reduction in vehicle traffic within the center of the city. She also tweeted the image below:
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) December 6, 2016
So, how bad is the air pollution from an empirical perspective? According to the agency Airparif, there’s now been more than a week of “readings of PM10 at more than 80 microgrammes per cubic metre of air particles.”
The Independent provides more: “The air pollution peak is due to the combination of emissions from vehicles and from domestic wood fires as well as near windless conditions which means pollutants have not been dispersed, the Airparif agency said.”
Continuing: “As extra passengers piled into public transport Paris’ train network was showing signs of strain. The RER B commuter line suffered serious delays on Tuesday, thanks to a power problem, and was still partly out of action on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday, services were suspended at Gare du Nord station after a power cut.”
If conditions don’t improve notably, then the ban will be extended to a third day, according to prefect Michel Cadot.
Notably, mayor Anne Hidalgo recently committed at the C40 forum in Mexico City to ban all diesel vehicles from Paris by 2025. Probably a prudent decision considering how bad the air quality in Paris has been in recent years.
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