Stepping up housing development projects
For the time being, however, Greater Paris is starting to take shape mainly around stations (within a radius of 800 metres). Everywhere, urban redesignation projects and new developments are underway or about to kick off , representing a surface area roughly one and a half times the size of the city of Paris. In a region where the housing stock renewal rate is low (1%/yr.), the goal is densification and greater social diversity. The average asking price per square metre of a house or apartment in the city centre has doubled in the last ten years (to €10,750), accelerating the gentrification of the inner suburbs and pushing out even more young and vulnerable residents. A report published in 2019 on progress in this area showed mixed results: among the 186 development projects underway, densification missed its targets and there were too few public and green spaces and not enough cycle ways. What’s more, projects are forging ahead faster in the west of the city than in the east. Between 250,000 and 400,000 homes are scheduled to be delivered by 2030 and later, so there is still time to get back on course, especially as outcomes are better regarding other objectives. For example, current development projects include 30% social housing, which in addition is well suited to the region’s changing household sizes and structures (smaller, intergenerational, designed for students). Furthermore, these new developments provide an almost even split between housing and commercial real estate (offices, shops and services), compared with a ratio of 60-40% at present. This is good news on the jobs front.
More eco-friendly place to live
Although modal shift targets have not been announced yet, the new super-metro should help reduce road traffic, which is responsible for 32% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Paris area. Air quality is also expected to improve. Currently, 1.4 million people in the region are exposed to pollution levels that exceed regulations. In addition, the urban development projects now taking shape are helping to step up the energy transition in the region, notably by deploying solar energy and electricity storage solutions. Nevertheless, given the metro’s significant energy requirements — equivalent to the needs of a city of 225,000 people — the Grand Paris Express aims to be exemplary. Circular economy inspired
innovations are in the pipeline, including waste heat recovery and re-use. What’s more, the stations themselves will provide energy for surrounding neighbourhoods. Geothermal energy, heat stored underground and heat loss from the metro infrastructure may be used to heat — or cool — nearby buildings. This solution has already been approved for three stations on line 15 Sud (south).
CONVINCING 60 MILLION PASSENGERS
The third tier in the master plan is to make Greater Paris as attractive as possible. The goal ultimately is for the super-metro to connect the city’s three airports, its research hubs, universities and business clusters, putting Paris on a par with other global cities. But four years before rollout of the first sections, several challenges have yet to be addressed. The first one being of course to make it popular with commuters and businesses.
This implies convincing a significant proportion of the 10 million-plus citizens who, by that time, will live less than 1.2 miles (2 km) from a public transport hub (all modes combined). But it also means persuading the 50 million people who visit the Paris region every year either for business or pleasure to venture beyond Disneyland-Paris, La Défense, Versailles and the main city-centre attractions.
Improving transport links with paris’ 68 stations
Anyone who’s ever lived in the inner or outer suburbs of Paris knows that getting to a train or station other than by private car is neither quick nor easy.
Buses sometimes don’t run often enough and safe lanes are too disjointed. Regional transport authority Île-de-France Mobilités and the municipal authorities concerned have therefore got their work cut out for them in revamping public space around public transport and active modes of transport. This is especially true in the outer suburbs, home to 5.3 million people, where are used in 20% of cases for getting to local stations. Express bus services using dedicated motorway lanes will be ramped up. As for the stations on the new super-metro network, the aim is to turn them into “sustainable mobility hubs”, featuring an ecosystem of services for (parking, rental and repairs) and shared transport modes (ride-sharing, car-pooling and autonomous shuttles).
Avenues to ensure the new “greater” Paris becomes a prime tourist and cultural destination also need to be explored. Since the governance model for the metropolis has yet to be decided, the multi-layered administrations who currently oversee its future — sometimes with overlapping powers — need to learn to work better together. Furthermore, it is essential that the economic benefits of all these developments be redistributed more harmoniously to ensure social cohesion. One thing’s for sure, however: the new Greater Paris will be a tremendous driver for rebooting the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched 12 years ago in the midst of the subprime crisis, the project is as relevant today as it was then.
ILE-DE-FRANCE AT A GLANCE
12.17 million residents (up 0.5% per year), representing 19% of the population of mainland France, comprised of:
• 18% in Paris itself
• 38% in the inner suburbs
• 44% in the outer suburbs
1 013 people per sq. kilometre
28% of France’s GDP (5.8 million salaried jobs)
43 M million journeys daily, of which (vs. 2010):
• 21,9% by public transport (+14)
• 1,9% by bike (+30)
• 39,9% by foot (+8)
• 34,4% by car (-5)
(Source EGT 2020 – figures for 2018)
GRAND PARIS EXPRESS
• 124-mile (200-km) automated metro with 68 new stations
• 1.45 million residents in station catchment areas
• More than 10 million people living less than 1.2 miles (2 km) from a station (all networks combined)
• 2 to 3 million passengers per day
• €35 billion construction budget out of a total investment of €110 billion for Greater Paris projects (urban development, CDG Express line, etc.)
• 27.6 tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided between now and 2050 (in total)
• Between 250,000 and 400,000 homes built
• 115,000 jobs created
• €10 to €20 billion per year in additional GDP for Ile-de-France