A year later, free transport on weekends has indeed boosted attendance

“It’s good for the planet and good for purchasing power”, proclaimed Johanna Rolland (PS), president of Nantes Métropole, a year ago. On April 24, 2021, the Nantes urban community set up free access for all on Saturdays and Sundays on the entire public transport network (tram, bus, busway, navibus) of the Semitan. Twelve months later, what is the impact of this measure aimed at encouraging the use of public transport to the detriment of the car?

Unsurprisingly, the balance sheet does indeed reveal an increase in weekend attendance, Nantes Métropole advances. More than 55,000 additional trips are indeed observed on Saturdays, if we compare the figures for 2022 and 2019 (year excluding health crisis). The increase is less, but still notable, on Sundays: + 20,000 additional trips between 2019 and 2022. Over the weekend as a whole, this growth is estimated at nearly 15%.

Reverse trend during the week

If we look line by line, the tramway benefits more from free admission than the bus. But it is above all the Navibus lines that perform with an announced increase of 20% at weekends. On sunny days, on the line N1 Trentemoult-Gare Maritimeit is now common to have to wait at least twenty minutes before hoping to be able to board, given the crowds.

Unlike Saturday and Sunday, weekday trips on the Tan network fell by 10% compared to 2019, indicates Nantes Métropole. The development of teleworking largely explains this decline. “Outside the Covid period, weekend attendance was lower than during the week. It is the opposite that is now happening, ”notes Nantes Métropole.

The loss of earnings from free public transport on weekends for public revenue in the Nantes metropolitan area is estimated at 10 million euros per year. In addition to the city of the dukes, the agglomeration of Montpellier has also adopted this measure which remains original on a French scale.

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