Test a free bus service in Monaco. This is the idea that Stéphane Valeri, President of the Conseil National has been proposing to the Government – an idea pursued ever more seriously since the early stages of the 2020 budget debate last year. One question of course is: should it be free just for residents or for everyone.
The goal is to improve the quality of the environment with fewer cars ,reduced congestion and less traffic pollution.
Monaco has an overall goal of reducing traffic by 20% by 2030 to recreate life as it was a few decades ago.
The Government and the bus company CAM have acted on the idea at the end of 2019 by proposing using line 4 free, the line that goes from Fontvielle to Saint Roman. They proposed a 6 month test to evaluate the effect on users and traffic.
In a letter sent to the Minister of State last week by the President of the National Council, Stéphane Valeri, and the President of the Environment and Quality of Life Commission, Guillaume Rose, the effectiveness of testing a single line in this way was questioned:
- Too small a group of users
- Interconnections between the lines complicate the test
They want the test to be valid so they have countered with a proposal for the trial to be carried out on the whole network (all lines) for two weeks , which they propose be done during European Mobility Week in September which customarily has one free day on the buses in Monaco anyway. The suggested period would extend from Saturday September 12 to Sunday September 27 throughout the Principality. The proposed test would be performed on the entire network, for everyone – without tickets and without limit. It would also be complemented by a large publicity campaign in advance and also during the two weeks of the trial.
A two week test of a free service outside the peak tourist season would not be hugely costly and should be an effective test of how people are incented to use public transport. More and more evidence is being cited by the Conseil National of cities in the world who opt for free or heavily subsidized public transport. The cities are cited as showing a reduction of automobile traffic.
All this must be music to the ears of Marie-Pierre Gramaglia, Minister of Equipment, Environment and Town Planning – at least in her goal of creating a quantum shift from private vehicles to buses. Costs would be a factor of course.
So if this free service goes ahead in September expect additional measures to make it work well – more priority bus lanes and possibly synchronizing traffic lights to facilitate the flow of buses on their routes.