The book begins with a bit of science fiction. It is 2035; hybrid vehicles travel alongside high-speed metros and the carcasses of abandoned cars lie in ancient, dilapidated housing schemes too far away to be reached. Citizens are supplied with a very limited number of “transport credits” by the Ministry of Sustainable Mobility, forcing some employees into “tele-homing”, i.e. sleeping at the workplace. A far from promising future!
In a hundred pages, this book provides a very detailed account of the state of public transport in France. The authors start by explaining “the harmful consequences of mobility” then identify the “causes” of these problems, concluding by presenting the future “perspectives” and a practical guide on how “to become the agent of your own mobility”.
Not lacking in humour or irony, this book offers a very comprehensive review of the minor (and major) hassles we face every day using public transport. Numbers, real-life examples and anecdotes, of which there are many, lend weight to the message. It identifies “false solutions”, like free public transport or the urban rail network that’s become the miracle cure, as well as more “sympathetic” solutions that are nonetheless unsuited to daily life, like on-line car-sharing for suburban office executives.
The authors do, however, put forward some practical ideas. Above all we need to improve what we already have to make transport easier and more pleasant to use. Not surprisingly the solutions presented are related to the professional activities of the authors, Marc Fontanès being the director of Mobility+ and Ludovic Bu the CEO of Voiture & co. They call for a real “paradigm shift” to rethink the economy, the politics and the sociology associated with mobility. They suggest more means of transport with more services for users, a real place given to bicycles and other alternative means (cable-cars, boats) so we can move about “better if not less”.
In the end, this is perhaps the legitimate solution to our mobility problems: to stop considering fast and cheap transport as an inherent sign of modern life and learn to limit our need to travel and to “exist without moving”.
Les transports, la planète et le citoyen. En finir avec la galère, découvrir la mobilité durable (Transport, the Planet and the Citizen. Ending the Nightmare with Sustainable Mobility). Authors: Ludovic Bu, Marc Fontanès, Olivier Razemon.
Picture credits: Les Petits Ruisseaux