A utilitarian mobility solution for Metz
Metz, in eastern France, inaugurated its own network of dedicated bus lanes and highly economical buses for use in October. Trams may be a compelling option, but they are not the only one.
Public transport was a burdensome issue for the local authority, Metz Métropole, with the knock-on effect of heavy congestion in the city. A tramway was considered but ultimately rejected. The city’s historic centre with its narrow streets would not lend itself to the works, and the chosen system is far less of a financial burden.
The total cost of the project was around EUR 230m, with the EIB contributing EUR 80m. Metz Métropole estimates that a tram network would have cost EUR 450m and maybe more. Mettis took three years to go from drawing board to operation and created 2 100 jobs in that time frame.
Mettis should shake up the public transport system for the 230 000 inhabitants of the urban agglomeration of Metz. It comprises two dedicated lines with a total length of 17.8 km, as well as three park and ride facilities and a maintenance centre. The lines will be served exclusively by a fleet of 27 state-of-the-art diesel electric hybrid buses. These 24-metre vehicles are bi-articulated so can negotiate tight corners, and were built in Belgium by Van Hool. Mettis formally entered into service on 5 October in the presence of French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
The combination of larger eco-friendly buses and exclusive lanes for them has been done before in France. Nantes, Rouen and Nîmes all have these systems in place, while Cannes, Saint-Etienne and Valenciennes are in the process of installing them.
Mettis should shake up the public transport system for the 230 000 inhabitants
Helping 80% of the workforce
Taken together, the two lines will serve half of the city’s inhabitants and a quarter of those in the greater urban area. Furthermore, 80% of employees in the city and 52% of those in the greater area will be served directly: Mettis takes in the central business district but also peripheral ones, as well as providing a direct link to the central station. A trickle-down effect will also occur as the buses which ran the old lines will be used to bolster others. This will improve capacity all over the city.
During peak hours, the bright pink, green, orange or blue buses, each with a capacity of around 150 passengers, will serve each stop on the lines every four to eight minutes. Studies conducted by Metz Métropole suggest that allying the frequency of service with the exclusive lanes will cut point-to-point journey times by an average of 43% when compared with the previous lines. The new buses, meanwhile, will cut CO2 emissions by an average of 1.53 tonnes per regular working day, and 374 tonnes per year, factoring in reduced service on weekends, holidays and off-peak times.
From the beginning, Mettis is expected to cater for 25 500 passenger journeys per working day. In time, and certainly within the next decade, Metz Métropole expects this figure to have risen to 37 000 from 78 000 daily journeys on the city’s entire transport network. 42 000 tried out the new buses on their maiden weekend. It is off to a promising start.