After debating the subject for several months, the government announced, in a public session, a six month test for free buses on the number 4 line from April 2020.
The subject has sparked tense exchanges several times in recent months between elected officials and the government. On the one hand, national councillors and President Stéphane Valeri, arguing for free transport. On the other hand, the government and the Minister for Equipment and the Environment, Marie-Pierre Gramaglia, expressing reservations about a free service which would not further push the population to use public transport.
However, a compromise was announced by Marie-Pierre Gramaglia on Monday evening, that the government would conduct a free experiment for six months, starting in April 2020. An announcement which sparked new debate. Elected officials would have preferred a test of totally free transport, across the entire network in the Principality.
A free test should have a mobilizing effect, as one in two people who responded to the council’s poll said that they would take the bus more often if they were free and 63% said that they would take the bus more if it were more practical.
Brigitte Boccone-Pagès added that the National Council has observed a drop in public transport use over the past five years and that it is essential to develop public transport in the Principality. Stéphane Valeri wants more buses on the lines. Marie-Pierre Gramaglia replied that adding buses could clog the traffic, although 100,000 vehicles already pass through Monaco every day.
100% electric buses
Half of the Principality’s public bus fleet is already hybrid vehicles, powered by an electric motor but supported by diesel. The objective is to progress towards a 100% electric fleet for the 45 buses in the Principality. A clean bus costs around twice as much as a diesel bus, or around 600,000 euros excluding tax. And on average, in Monaco, a bus is kept for twelve years.
The Compagnie des autobus de Monaco (CAM) have tested four 100% electric buses of different brands: two 8-9 metre minibuses and two standard 12 metre buses. The first electric bus was an 8.9 metre minibus from the Polish manufacturer Solaris, on loan from the network of the city of Sète. Then, from the Chinese manufacturer CRRC, an 8.2 metre minibus on line 3 and a standard 12 metre bus on lines 1 and 2. These buses are distributed in Europe by the French company Clément-Bayard. Finally, the CAM ran a standard bus from Spanish manufacturer Irizar on lines 1 and 2.