Allez le Tram, the Politics & Financing of the French Tram

The Cardinal has reported on the success of French Light Rail/Tramways, regularly on the Rail for the Valley blog. In this article the history, development, style, politics & importantly financing will be outlined.

With a light rail renewal France has gone full steam ahead to become a leader in technological design and leading style. Howard Johnston, EditorAi??of Tramways & Urban TransitAi??reports in railway-technology .com

Ai??You are directed to the following document:Ai??

Comparative Performance Data from French Tramway Systems.

for more information,Ai??annotations & observations on:

Politics of Trams

The Local Authority is the principal decision-making body involved in public transport projects, such as tramways, and it represents a pool of municipalities from within the metropolitan area. One important task, the Local Authority creates and modifies the urban transport area, for which the Authority establishes the Urban Local Transport Plan ai??i?? called a Plan de dAi??placements urbains (PDU) in French ai??i?? which was established by the LePage Act for air quality.

For individual transport projects, the Local Authorityai??i??s main powers lie in the selection of the choice of investments and the definition of the bid. As well, the Authority takes charge of selecting and

securing the public transport operators of their network.

Planning Processes

In 1982, the French government mandated ai??i?? through its Internal Transport Planning Law (Loi

dai??i??orientation sur les transports intAi??rieurs) ai??i?? that the local authorities would be responsible for

establishing their transport policy, running the urban public transport network, and implementing new schemes.

Along with the transfer of this competency, the local authorities were given the financial tool to finance their public transport policy through the Versement transport

This plan was initiated to help deal with ecological problems, such as air pollution, noise, and traffic congestion, by forcing municipalities to think about and organise their transport policies, projects, and plans.

The importance of the PDU was amplified in 1996 when the Clean Air Act (Loi sur lai??i??air) made PDUs

mandatory for French cities with over 100,000 inhabitants and imposed a favourable policy towards public transport systems in order to obtain a reduction in car traffic. This policy supported cities and the measures they could take to develop public transport and limit the use of cars in the short and medium terms as a means to reducing the amount of car-generated emissions.

Cities have a host of options they could implement under this favourable policy: restrict traffic;

transform spaces dedicated to cars into areas for public transport, bicycles, and pedestrians; or

introduce elements through the Local Urbanism Plan ai??i?? Plan local dai??i??urbanisme (PLU) ai??i?? that act to

regulate land use and can, for example, fix the number of parking spaces to construct according to the number of residential units or office space constructed in a new building. The principal goal of each of these approaches is to reduce the amount of trips individuals make by private automobiles.


French tramways are financed from an assortment of resources. The money needed to build and

operate a tramway scheme is balanced by contributions from the government, the local authorities, local companies, and the passengers themselves.

Ai?? The state government contributes only to the capital costs of tramway schemes, not to the operations of the systems (except in the greater Paris region).

This contribution is presently calculated as up to 35% of the capital costs of the project (excluding design and project administration costs, utilities diversion, highway improvement, land acquisitions, and rolling stock purchase, which are paid for entirely by the Transport Authority).

The government contribution is limited to a maximum ofAi?? ai??i?? 4.5 million for every line kilometre of tramway.

Ai?? Utilities diversion costs are funded both through the project and by private companies. If the utility is owned by the municipality, then the tramway sponsor (as part of the municipality) will pay for the diversion of that utility. Water supply, sewage, and central heating are publicly owned utilities in France. For private utilities (electricity, gas, telephone…), the private owners of those utilities are responsible for the diversion of the utility and its cost.

A judicial precedent prescribes this responsibility.

Ai?? The Transport Authority is financed directly by the municipalities that are served by it.

Ai?? The versement transport (transport tax), a specific tax dedicated to financing public transport, is levied on companies based on the company payroll. The money generated goes directly to the Transport Authority.

Ai?? Nationally in France, passengers themselves contribute almost one-quarter of the annual investment and operations financing through fare box revenues.

Ai??Reims Alstom Citadis

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