The financing agreement between the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Marseille Provence Métropole is aimed at providing efficient, sustainable public transport. This €135m agreement was signed on Friday 16 May 2014 in Marseille by Guy Teissier, President of Marseille Provence Métropole, and Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB Vice-President. The first contract implementing this financing agreement was signed with Caisse d’Epargne Provence-Alpes-Corse (BPCE Group) for €44m in the presence of Alain Lacroix, CEO of Caisse d’Epargne Provence-Alpes-Corse.

This loan will serve to implement six projects in Communauté Urbaine de Marseille Provence Métropole's public transport investment programme: a 900 m extension of the metro (line 2) in the north of the city; three BRT routes with a total length of 27.5 km; a new transport hub (BRT, bus, metro, park-and-ride facilities); and the acquisition of an additional six trams to increase the capacity of the tramway system. This loan is therefore aimed at improving the quality of all public transport modes in the city in terms of regularity, punctuality, comfort, safety and time savings. It will also help to ease congestion, improve accessibility, enhance the economic appeal of the city and facilitate access to employment centres.

The preparatory work for the extension of metro line 2 began in February 2013 and most of the work concerning the construction of the underground metro structure and the transport hub will take place in 2014 with the extension scheduled to enter into service in September 2015. The work on the three BRT routes began between 2013 and 2014. The inauguration of the first two routes (Bougainville-Vallon des Tuves-Saint Antoine, and Saint Jérôme-Château Gombert) is scheduled for September 2014 while the third route (Castellane-Luminy) is expected to enter into service in 2016.

At the signing ceremony EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive declared:

"I am pleased to complete this week of EU signatures across France here in Marseille. Like us, Communauté Urbaine de Marseille Provence Métropole has made efficient, sustainable public transport one of its priorities. Europe is proud to support this wide-ranging project via its financial arm, the EIB. It is precisely by pooling our resources that we can make progress at both local and European level. "

Guy Teissier, President of Marseille Provence Métropole, expressed his satisfaction with this new agreement, saying:

"At a time when we wish to expand and diversify our public transport service and bearing in mind the current credit crunch, EIB support is key for us to be able to manage our budget. The financing terms obtained will enable us to improve the daily lives of our citizens and invest in their future without spending excessively. "

The agreement signed today is the second between the EIB and Communauté Urbaine Marseille Provence Métropole after the financing of the first phase of the Marseille tram network in 2006 (€27m). It comes at the end of a week of EU activity during which more than €1bn of investment projects were signed in France in the key sectors of education, youth employment, sustainable transport development, infrastructure upgrading and SME support. This commitment echoes the EIB’s unprecedented activity in support of projects promoting growth and employment, for which the Bank dedicated EUR 7.8bn in 2013 (80% more than in 2012).