French city pays locals to leave their cars at home

A northern French city has begun paying its residents for every day that they leave their car at home during rush hour, in an effort to reduce pollution and traffic congestion.

French city pays locals to leave their cars at home
The scheme aims to cut congestion on the A1 and A23 motorways in Lille. Photo by Denis CHARLET / AFP

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

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French postal service hit by nationwide IT outage

France's national postal service, La Poste, was experiencing a nationwide IT outage on Tuesday, according to reports by French media, with customers unable to send or receive parcels.

French postal service hit by nationwide IT outage

The French postal service, as well as the parcel delivery subsidiary, Colissimo, began experiencing the IT outage on Monday.

As of Tuesday, BFMTV reported that La Poste’s services were impacted at random, but the automated terminals that allow customers to weigh, frank and send letters and parcels had been the most affected.

Post offices in the south also appear to have been badly affected.

The situation was “gradually returning to normal”, a spokesperson told the French TV network on Tuesday.

As a result, agents cannot access data concerning letters and parcels sent via Colissimo, making it impossible for customers to collect or send them. So far, BFMTV reported that banking services and ATMs are not affected.

“I went to the Poste Magnan in Nice on Monday to collect a parcel. The clerk told me that they could not give it to me because its withdrawal is conditional on an electronic signature and that there is a technological breakdown.

“She couldn’t tell me how long it was going to last so I went back again today (Tuesday), and it’s still down,” Christiane, a customer told regional news outlet Nice-Ouest.

The website Downdetector, which tracks website blackouts, flagged several complaints about services being down in the last 24 hours. There were also a number of posts on social media pointing to the issue.

According to the spokesperson, a cyber attack had been ruled out. 

As of Tuesday, it was still unclear when services would be fully functional again.