The dark side of making transit irresistible: The example of France

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - environmental impact, land use - impacts, policy - equity, policy - environment, place - urban, mode - mass transit


Urban transportation policy, Transit, Social justice, Social equity, Public transit, Policy analysis, Modal shift, Mass transit, Local transit, France, Financial analysis, Fairness (Social equity), Equity (Justice), Environmental impacts, Environmental effects, Case studies, Automobile use, Automobile usage, Automobile travel


The French experience in developing policies to reduce car use in metropolitan areas is presented in this paper as an illustration of the lack of recognition of the broader set of criteria on which specific policy frameworks should be judged. One of the major challenges, and often failings of policies focussed on reducing car use, is the lack of a structure that ensures that the downside impacts are not relocated to other parts of a system such that potential gains end up being eroded by the potential losses. We draw on experiences throughout France, as well as case studies in Lyon, to highlight the dark side of French transport policy promoting a switch from car to public transit and non-motorised modes, in terms of financial, equity and environmental outcomes.


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