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“After fifteen years of running after the bus, enduring the same noisy environment, I moved on. Certainly, I meet fewer people, I move less, but, for the moment, that suits me. Like Jérôme, a young “quadra” from Nantes, many French people have abandoned public transport, almost overnight, since the Covid-19 crisis. This is why, despite the lifting of restrictions, most of the major urban networks, which are currently communicating their 2022 annual report, have not yet regained their level of attendance for the year 2019. We asked our readers to understand this desertion. The responses were plentiful.
Surprisingly, the fear of viral contamination is rarely cited as a justification. “Transport is a place of promiscuity which promotes interactions and therefore it is a nest for microbes and viruses”, worries all the same, Louis, a 55-year-old Parisian. “I went through the pandemic virus-free. I went to a training course in Paris, I took the metro. And guess what? I caught the Covid-19… Now I avoid”, abounds Héloïse.
The passion for cycling
No, the main argument presented is, unsurprisingly, the development of teleworking. “Before Covid-19, working from home was unimaginable in my company. Now, I only need to travel once a week, for the Monday meeting,” explains Jérôme, an engineer. “My habits have changed,” rejoices Louis, who only goes out two days a week. Same satisfaction for Marie, 35, who “changed jobs for a job at home”. “We realized how much time but above all energy we were wasting traveling morning and evening. I am able to better manage my family constraints during the day and reconnect at night to work. “I don’t miss it at all!” another reader shouts.
Some, like Jean, took advantage of working from home to “get back in the car” during the week. “I prefer its comfort,” recognizes Stéphanie, from Toulouse. “Always in carpooling”, nuance Christophe. Many also explain having discovered the pleasure and efficiency of cycling. “We save time, we save money, we avoid crowded metros, we don’t suffer from delays and, icing on the cake, we get exercise! enthused Louis, 24. “It takes me 35 minutes by electric bike versus 40 minutes to 1h15 by public transport! I couldn’t go back any more,” confirms Aurélie. “Currently, the bike is quite simply the best mode of transport”, insists, Julien, 40 years old.
“Strikes and problems, I can’t take it anymore”
Whether they have become cyclists, motorists, or even “exclusive pedestrians”, our readers also confide in having “taken the plunge” because of recurring grievances addressed to public transport. In particular, punctuality defects. “In Paris, the regularity of the service is not reliable”, considers Julien. “Strikes and technical problems, I can’t take it anymore. In truth, it doesn’t happen that much, but it gives me too many uncertainties,” criticizes Julie. Others point to “the increase in prices”, the “dirt”, or the “noise which we did not realize before”.
Finally, readers, especially female readers, mention incivility or “aggressiveness” between travellers. “There is no more respect and a lot of violence. However, I am very touched by the importance of ecology”, laments Morgane, 25 years old. “Ceasing to take public transport during Covid-19 was an awareness, especially of the permanent feeling of insecurity”, maintains Filip.
However, metros, trams and buses still have many fans. Some of our readers are even looking for solutions to “help them up”. “What if we saved public transport? By recruiting and paying better, for example? suggests Julien, 40 years old. According to the latest Moovit report, it is in Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux and Lyon that the rate of abandonment of public transport would be the highest (from 6% to 8% of users).
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