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Marseille, France: The Day the Bus Triumphed over Traffic

Marseille, France: The Day the Bus Triumphed over Traffic

The TGB (an acronym meaning “very large bus”) was launched on Monday Sept. 1st in the 15th and especially in the 13th districts of Marseille, France. There, the bus lanes will finally be protected: a small revolution. Guy Teissier, head of the Urban Community of Marseille Provence Métropole, will quietly celebrate this small revolution on Monday

The TGB (an acronym meaning “very large bus”) was launched on Monday Sept. 1st in the 15th and especially in the 13th districts of Marseille, France. There, the bus lanes will finally be protected: a small revolution.

Mercedes Benz Citaro G C2 RTM TGB

Guy Teissier, head of the Urban Community of Marseille Provence Métropole, will quietly celebrate this small revolution on Monday morning. A bus lane isn’t a big deal. But a bus lane that exists solely for the bus? That’s extremely rare in Marseille. Protected lanes do exist in our city and for the most part they are chaotic. Everyone rushes into the lanes up until nighttime, when carefree partiers park their cars in the bus lane before going out to the clubs. Now, when taking the route from La Rose, past Saint-Jérôme, to Chateau-Gombert in the 13th district, there will be no more incivility.

A route dedicated to public transportation

The urban community, formerly headed by Eugène Caselli (and now headed by Guy Teissier), developed a two-way street for cars and another two-way route for public transportation. No fear of overcrowding here. The two categories of vehicles do not mix. Suffice it to say that buses could be bombarded during rush hours. This is all good news for those living in the communes of Plan-de-Cuques and Allauch, who can leave their cars in a new parking lot (two hundred spots near Bara Boulevard). They can then catch the bus to the La Rose metro stop, taking Albert-Einstein Street, straight and fluid like an alpine spring.

The same plan is in place for traffic two kilometers away, with Niemen Avenue liberated from traffic jams. This will allow the students at Saint-Jérôme to arrive on time for the first class of the day. And the circulation of public transportation will be freed up enough that the RTM (regional transport of Marseille) is putting in place its famous TGB buses or BHNS buses (which already run in the direction of Luminy). These buses will hold two times the number of passengers as a traditional bus. The students at St. Jérôme will be less cramped while they travel, including those who use the Technopôle on the other protected axis of the city.

CHâteau de Château Gombert, France

In summary, the urban community is launching a sort of tram on two wheels, spanning over two kilometers from Château-Gombert to Saint-Jérôme. This project will allow the city to save several million euros over time. The cost of one kilometer of BHNS is estimated to cost approximately three million euro versus forty for a tramway. Even if there is no replacement for the metro, one will now be able to breathe a bit in the 13th district, an area that is particularly congested. We would like to say the same for the 15th district, where, on Monday, another TGB is set to be plunged into traffic (except for that the construction has not been finished). But there, nothing can assure the passenger that he or she will arrive on time, because few to none of the protected lanes through the La Cabucelle, St-Louis, La Viste, and St-Antoine neighborhoods can take on the TGB 26. “We don’t have the same types of real estate or layout,” explain those at the RTM. “It is impossible to change long stretches of infrastructure here, but the BHNS has nevertheless allowed us to re-characterize some of the historic villages within Marseille."

In the Saint-Louis neighborhood, the sidewalks were repaved and new parking places were added to be more in harmony with the city. However, Saint-Antoine and La Cabucelle remain true kingdoms of anarchy where the TGB, two times larger than a normal bus, will have difficulty carving out a path. Unless the police come and do the clean up, that is. We can always dream.

What public transportation developments/initiatives are occurring in your city?

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Katelyn Hewett recently graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French. During her time at St. Olaf, she enjoyed playing the French Horn in the St. Olaf Band, working as a teaching assistant for first-year...

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