Paris offering 3 days free public transport to reduce car pollution

Paris,Dec9:The famous Eiffel Tower shrouded in a greyish haze and some tourists donning face masks, the French capital announced on Wednesday (local time) licence-plate based driving restrictions and bans on old cars as the City of Light experienced the worst air pollution in a decade.”Cars are poisoning the air. We need to take preventive measures,” Paris city hall transport official Herve Levife said on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Paris banned cars from circulation based on whether their licence plates ended with odd or even numbers. It will now ban half of all traffic again on Thursday.

Other French cities such as Lyon are also planning bans as clouds of pollution hang over many European cities due to a lack of winds, which normally blow in off the Atlantic Ocean.

It is only the fourth time in 20 years that Paris has imposed such a ban and the first time it applied for consecutive days. Municipalities around Paris also imposed the ban.

Besides instant measures like licence-plate based driving bans, the city also plans to step up its fight against chronic pollution by gradually banning the oldest and most polluting vehicles from the city centre, Mr Levife said.

“We want these bans to automatically take effect when the pollution exceeds a certain level, not have to negotiate them with the Government each time,” Mr Levife said.

In April, the mayor of Paris announced the most famous boulevard in Paris, the Champs-Elysees, would be off-limits to cars on the first Sunday of every month starting in May in an effort to fight the smog that periodically shrouds the city.

From mid-January, Paris will become the first French city to launch the new Crit’Air vignette system that will require all cars to have a colour-coded sticker indicating their age and pollution level.

The stickers will allow police to control which vehicles can circulate in the city centre.

Grenoble in eastern France also plans to use the vignettes and other French cities are looking into banning clunkers from their roads.

Cars 20 years and older have already been banned from Paris roads from July 1, 2016 and some 120,000 stickers have been distributed.

But participation in the scheme so far has been voluntary and enforcement scarce.

From July 1, 2017, the city will impose bans on diesel-powered cars and vans first put into circulation in 2001 and trucks first registered in 2006. Between 2018 and 2020, the city will gradually tighten circulation permits.

Paris has no plans to introduce London-style tolls for cars entering the city.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is on a drive to reduce car traffic, having already increased the cost of parking meters and banned free parking on Saturdays and the August holiday period.

She is also turning a highway on both banks of the Seine into a riverside park.

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