The Lille metropolitan area – covering the city in north-east France and its suburbs – is offering car-owning residents €2 for every journey that they don’t make by car during rush hour.
Lille launched its ‘éconobus’ scheme on Monday, initially as a nine-month pilot, offering a cash bonus to everyone who either carpools or uses public transport during rush hour, or those who work from home.
The idea is to relieve traffic congestion on the A1 and A23 motorways during the morning and evening rush hour, and also lower air pollution levels.
Sébastien Le Prêtre, vice-president of the Lille metropolitan area, said: “We won’t be the first in Europe to introduce it, since our source of inspiration is the Netherlands, where the scheme has proved its effectiveness.
“But we’ll be the first metropolis in France to embark on this experiment, which will run for nine months.”
The regional authority says that it expects 600 fewer cars per day on the A1 during rush hour, and 300 fewer on the A23.
Around 3,000 volunteers are already signed up to the pilot scheme – it does not require people to give up their cars, but incentivises leaving it at home during rush hour with €2 paid for every day that the user either works from home, car-shares or uses public transport.
It’s largely targeted at people who live in the suburbs and commute into Lille.
Although this is the first such scheme of its kind in France, the French government does offer €100 to people who sign up to car-sharing schemes.