Paris goes to extremes to combat its air pollution crisis

Half of all drivers have been banned from the road as the city's toxic smog worsens

Lindsay Abrams
March 17, 2014 5:41PM (UTC)

Making public transportation free apparently wasn’t enough.

As levels of toxic air pollution rise to rival those of Beijing, authorities in Paris took the drastic measure of banning half of all cars from the city's roads. About 700 police at 179 checkpoints are enforcing the ban; by midday Monday, almost 4,000 tickets had been handed out to drivers who disobeyed it.


Paris is particularly prone to smog, Reuters explains, thanks in large part to France's diesel subsidies and the prevalence of private car drivers. The past week's unseasonably warm and sunny weather contributed to the current public health crisis.

The AFP reports on the ban, which, days before the city's municipal elections, is causing controversy:

Ecology Minister Philippe Martin said he understood the "difficulties, the irritation and even anger" over the move, adding: "But we just had to take this decision."

Martin said similar measures in 1997 "had yielded results."

The measure is also expensive, with free public transport costing the RATP -- the state-owned Paris train, subway, tram and bus operator -- 2.5 million euros a day, according to RATP head Pierre Mongin.

France's Automobile Club Association (ACA), which counts some 760,000 members, denounced the move as "hasty, ineffective" and "bound to lead to chaos."

Lindsay Abrams

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Air Pollution Cars Paris Public Health Public Transportation Smog

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