This diversity is an asset, but it’s also a challenge, because it’s our job to create an efficient network capable of meeting continuously evolving needs. When developing mobility solutions, we look at the region as a whole and then cross-check that vision with our understanding of local needs. We wouldn’t dream of making changes to the transport network without placing citizens, in all their diversity, at the centre of our development process. In fact, our goal is to turn their expectations into real-world solutions that effectively meet their needs.
In Lyon, we currently face the particularly tough challenge of adapting our network to a sharp increase in ridership. Network use rose by more than 5% in 2018 and again in first-quarter 2019, versus an average of 2% growth in previous years. We must now rise to the challenge created by our own success.
MOBILITY, ONE OF LYON’S KEY ASSET
The increase in network ridership reflects the area’s popularity. Lyon has forged a reputation, both in France and abroad, as an extremely attractive city. Thanks to the considerable resources allocated to boosting its development, Lyon is regularly recognised as one of the best cities to live and invest in. As a result, the city saw the arrival of more than 100 new businesses in 2018, half of them from outside France, and the creation of 3,000 new jobs. Since 2011, our population has increased by around 1% per year, thanks in part to the many young professionals who decide to make Lyon their home. These new arrivals come with high expectations about the environment and quality of life in Lyon and a determination to rely less on cars.
The Rhône department as a whole is also seeing dynamic development. There’s a large student population, with several universities and business and engineering schools. These young people are the first to adopt new practices, and they want flexibility, technology and connectivity. We’re innovating in all these areas, by extending the metro network’s operating hours at weekends, and installing 4G in tunnels and stations. Development has been rapid in various parts of the Greater Lyon area. We now need to more effectively connect these neighbourhoods to our network to ensure overall cohesion.
The many and varied challenges we face are pushing us to speed up innovation in all its forms to ensure a seamless and inclusive mobility experience for everyone. Our top priority for the network is accessibility in the broadest sense.
We’re starting with the network layout, which we need to rethink so it better reflects our vision of what mobility should be. Public transport can no longer be based on a silo approach. Multimodality and intermodality must now be taken into account right from the design phase. It’s important, for example, that users can access a public transport network, such as the metro, by bicycle or car. And that means providing secure parking and cycle paths. The idea isn’t to pit one form of transport against another. Instead, we want to help residents combine the various modes available to find the best way to get from A to B. But network development can’t be approached lightly. Numerous factors must be considered, including the accessibility and safety of each site and how it will interact with other types of transport. To more effectively connect outlying neighbourhoods, we’ve started building a new tram line that will skirt the city’s edge, a first for Lyon. Phase 1 will be operational in November 2019. A study is already underway on a second phase, which would extend network coverage to several of the city’s residential and business clusters.
A SAFE, ACCESSIBLE NETWORK
Accessibility isn’t just about the number of transport options available. We also need to devise solutions that enable everyone to make the most of the public transport network. That’s why all except one of our 49 metro and funicular car stations are accessible to people with limited mobility. We also aim to make the network more accessible in terms of pricing. A quarter of our travel pass holders now benefit from reduced fares for low-income earners. And we’ve automated the process for changing fare categories, so that passholders are automatically switched to the right category for their age.
We’re also looking at how to help people who don’t feel safe on public transport, particularly female passengers. Women are the main users of our network, accounting for 60% of the total. We’ve launched an app called Mon Chaperon, which helps users find someone to travel with. We’ve also introduced on-demand stops after 10 pm on our bus lines, so passengers can alight as close as possible to their destination if their bus isn’t crowded. And, over four years ago, we were the first to launch “exploratory walks” on our bus lines (see Pulse No. 3). This initiative involves female passengers carrying out their usual journey accompanied by mobility and safety experts, so they can identify the places or factors that make them feel unsafe.
SYTRAL also shares users’ growing concerns about quality of life, which is why the energy transition is central to our initiatives. Every day, 1.8 million journeys are made on the TCL network, 75% of them thanks to electric power. Between our metro and tram lines, our fully electric trolleybuses and our cable cars, three-quarters of our network already runs on electricity. And we have even more ambitious objectives for the future. France’s energy transition act calls for 100% clean public transport by 2025. We plan to achieve that target five years earlier.
Starting in September 2019, one of our bus lines will be operated solely by biogas-powered buses. And in 2020, more than 50 new natural gas-powered vehicles, electric buses and next-generation (IMC) trolleybuses will be added to the SYTRAL fleet. We’re also carrying out various trials that offer significant promise, including eco-driving assistance for bus drivers, load weight calculators on buses and, soon, hydrogen technology. In addition, our city is leading the way in autonomous vehicles. Since 2016, we’ve been trialling two autonomous shuttle buses in the Confluence eco-district. A world first, the shuttles have already carried a total of 40,000 passengers. We’ve since acquired two new shuttles, which will be fully integrated into the TCL network and rolled out in the coming weeks to meet growing daily demand around the Groupama Stadium.
A CLOSE TRANSPARENT PARTNERSHIP
It takes a long time to build an efficient network, so it’s easy to lose momentum. That’s why it’s vitally important that everyone involved is fully committed to meeting the mobility challenge. Operators are clearly key partners. With Keolis, whose teams have demonstrated their commitment on all fronts, we’ve forged a relationship based on high standards and transparency.
Our collaborative approach extends beyond this partnership to include residents, businesses and other stakeholders in the local economy. We maintain constant dialogue with all of them so we can work together to shape our future. At SYTRAL, we focus in particular on sharing information and fostering dialogue with residents. We talk to people in the street, organise workshops on specific topics and hold conferences for the public and meetings with local committees.
We also go to great lengths to gauge public opinion, which we’re currently doing for the future metro line E, for example. This time, even the route and the number of stations have been submitted for public consultation. Various formats are used to capture people’s views, including paper and online surveys, as well as face-to-face interviews. Above and beyond all the new technologies and solutions, the real innovation in our eyes is that we’re co-constructing with citizens.