Starting September 2019, some of the lines of the Paris metro will offer all-night service one Saturday a month as an experimentation. Many suggest increasing the scope of this initiative, deemed praiseworthy yet still unsufficient.
The President of the Île-de-France Region and local transportation authority IDFM, Valérie Pécresse, made the announcement official last month. Long deemed unjustified by these same authorities, the trial of an all-night service for the Paris metro is set to start this fall.
It will remain limited, at least in the coming year. First of all, the initiative is planned for only seven nights – six more than before, since the metro has already been running all night on New Year’s Eve for a decade. In addition to the last day of the year, Parisians will have the opportunity to use public transportation non-stop on the following Saturday nights: September 14, October 12, November 9, 2019, and January 11, February 8, and March 7, 2020.
The implementation of the all-night service will not benefit the whole RATP network. The experimentation will see the non-stop opening of some 75 stations on six metro lines (1, 2, 5, 6, 9, and 14), as well as three tramways (2, 3a, 3b). The service of the night bus Noctilien will also increase on these dates to adjust to the additional influx in passengers.
Nevertheless, for a capital this size, at the heart of a region as dense as Île-de-France, this trial appears a bit timid given the reality of the Parisian night. Beyond the local nightlife and its many difficulties illustrated by the 2009 initiative « Paris : quand la nuit meurt en silence » (When the night dies silently), hundred of thousands of night workers of the region would surely appreciate more inclusive transportation policies.
The French capital is starting to lag far behind some of its European neighbors. In Berlin and London, as well as Stockholm and Vienna, some lines operate non-stop on Fridays and Saturdays. Copenhagen’s driverless metro runs every night. Albeit further away, public transportation systems in New York, Chicago and Melbourne offer 24/7 service.
It’s no surprise to see Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo supporting the her Deputy Mayor Frédéric Hocquard’s op-ed in Le Parisien, « Paris deserves 24/7 transportation ». During the last campaign for Paris city hall, the need for a more ambitious night service won almost unanimous support among the major candidates – and it’s a safe bet it will once again be the case during the 2020 municipal elections.
Campaign promises aside, the renewed attention of the regional authorities in charge of these questions is a positive signal for the Parisian night and those who experience it. All-night service during the weekend, later schedule in the summertime, non-stop operation of the automatic lines: in addition to the transporation authorities’ current priorities (accessibility for disabled persons, security, etc.), there are indeed many ways to improve the everyday life of night owls and workers alike.