Paris is an amazing city, it has so many great sights to see, like the one below

But for transport geeks like me, there is another thing about Paris that is amazing, its metro system. Accord to Wikipedia it is one of the densest and most used metro systems in the world with over 300 stations and 4.5 million passengers per day. The various lines create a grid like network across the city which means that pretty much every point in the city is no more than 500m from a station.

A typical metro station
The Paris Metro Network Map

Looking at a map of a foreign city it is hard to comprehend just how bit the network is so I thought I would show it in comparison to Auckland. I have mapped out each of the line (including the RER lines) on to the Auckland Isthmus to the same scale as what exists in Paris.

The thick lines are the RER

I think its pretty safe to assume that none of us, or probably even our grand children will see a rail map like this in Auckland however what we will see is a redesigned bus network. The red lines in bus network are designed on the same principal as the Paris metro and are meant to run at a frequency of at least one bus every 15 minutes for almost all of the day and for 7 days a week, not quite as frequent as the train every 5 minutes off peak that Paris achieves but a pretty big leap forward from what we have now.

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  1. Has a timetable for roll-out of the new bus network been announced yet? Or is AC / AT waiting for the integrated ticketing / integrated fare system to be bedded-in first?

      1. West Auckland, great if you live near the rail line. Those of us cut off on the other side of SH16 have to endure the crap bus service for at least another 3 years? It’s like trying to turn the bloody Titanic. No busway, shit service. Oh that’s right Hobby is getting a ferry at least.

  2. Great post Matt! A good news post…

    From the title I thought it meant we were going to get beautiful stations and entrances for the CRL.

    This is Auckland though so bring on the glass fins and rusty iron!

    This new bus network looks useful as all hell, is this the work of our esteemed former admin? If so congrats to him and everyone involved..

    1. I would hardly call the stations or their entrances in Paris very beautiful, in fact most are nothing more than some stairs leading underground to small often dirty tunnels and platforms.

      The new network is pretty much what keeps Nick busy during the day I believe. Our former admin is involved in lots of other things however.

      1. The new network indeed keeps Stu and I busy in our day jobs, but it’s a collaborative project led by Auckland Transport and MRCagney (including our jet-set transport guru Jarrett Walker), with input from Council, operators and other stakeholders too.

    1. A big part of the design is centred around taking advantage of the big boost in capacity and reliability that comes with the EMUs, so the network has to wait for them. Anyway there is plenty to be done yet, still some design work, consultation, contracting arrangements, waiting for old contracts to expire and be rolled over etc.

      1. Pity. I am the kind of potential bus user AT are looking for, the casual weekend or weekday user. I work all over Auckland region during the week and weekends, start before peak times and finish after peak times. I can count on one hand the times I have been in anything resembling rush hour over the past 12 months but I would love the ability to use buses at weekends to go on adventures with my son or go into the CBD for a drink with mates but 1 hour buses and long, dragged out tours on the way to my intended destination don’t do it for me so I just drive or don’t go (taxi’s a too expensive).

        1. Well by the schedule above you’ll see the first improvements within the next 12 months, and the bulk of the new lines within the next two to three years. Naturally everyone wants this done yesterday already but that’s just not feasible with a endeavour of this scale.

  3. Interesting comparison, though of course not remotely like for like, as Paris’s population density (the core 20 arrondisments) is 21,196 /km2 against 2,900/km2 for urban Auckland. Most commerce and retail is concentrated within this core too (in fact, much is really concentrated within the metro “ring” of lines 2 and 8), justifying a very high density and high frequency metro service, as well as an excellent bus service (see for a map with RER/Metro/Bus/Tram combined) and there’s also extensive heavy rail covering the greater Paris region. Most Parisians I’ve known have a car, but tend only to use it to go to the supermarket, at the weekend or trips out of town.

    Perhaps a better comparison with Auckland would be (suburban) London, where the urban population density is 5,206/km2, and whilst you have extensive bus, tube, rail and tram networks, the urban sprawl and “big box” format retailers mean that daily car usage is a necessity for most people.

    The other thing to note is that France has a payroll tax called the Versement Transport ( which pays for most of it. Employers with 9 or more employees in Paris have to pay 2.6% of gross salaries. IIRC, Parisian employers bear something like 35% of the cost of providing the Paris network. That makes for a great network, but it adds significantly to employer’s costs and is one of the reasons why the French unemployment rate is so high.

  4. “IIRC, Parisian employers bear something like 35% of the cost of providing the Paris network. That makes for a great network, but it adds significantly to employer’s costs and is one of the reasons why the French unemployment rate is so high.”

    I don’t dispute that this will affect the location of places of employment in and around Paris, but I’d be surprised if it makes an accurately measureable difference to the national rate of unemployment in France as a whole. Also hard to know if it makes a bigger difference to employment than would providing subsidised parking to employees, as do employers in Auckland either directly (via paid places in parking buildings) or indirectly (by increased land costs and reduced due to off-street parking).

    1. Hi David, actually I don’t think that the rate of the VT makes much difference to the location of jobs in France – if you really need to be in Paris then you’ll be in Paris, with the high rents, wages and other taxes that brings.

      The effect that payroll taxes on employers do have, however, is discourage employers from taking on additional staff. OK, so you have a cost of providing them with somewhere to work, but if as in France, as well as someone’s salary you are going to have to pay up to 50% in extra taxes, many of which have to be paid to different agencies and increase as you have more workers, then you ask yourself whether growing a company is worth the hassle *. You either make do, buy a machine to do the job, use a temp rather than create a permanent position, or even offshore it.

      The cumulative effect of all of this, and high personal and corporate taxes is to discourage the location of businesses in France, or at least functions where a physical presence isn’t important. Perhaps partly due to this there are something like 400,000 French people living in London alone (there are admittedly also large numbers of UK citizens in France, Spain and elsewhere, though these tend to be older retirees), many large companies such as Dell and Microsoft base their European call centres and back office functions in places like Ireland, French car makers like Peugeot offshore labour intensive jobs to Tunisia and other low-wage locations. I don’t think you can pin it down to single factors, but the ease of doing business definitely correlates with levels of unemployment and economic growth.

      I’m not saying that public transport shouldn’t be subsidised, cheap public transport has massive social benefits and feeds a virtuous circle of ridership/service frequency. I’m also a big fan of hypothecated taxes – where money goes into a particular account and can’t be syphoned off by the government for other purposes. In an ideal world I’d like to see roads, road policing and emergency services exclusively paid for by vehicle and fuel taxes, which I think would concentrate minds.

      What I am saying though is that is that I don’t think that payroll taxes are a good idea, pay for public transport out of general taxation or the rates instead. I also have to wonder whether large amounts of public money to a single provider aren’t a disincentive to innovation and revenue growth, but that’s another discussion I think.

      * Believe it or not, compared to most of Europe, New Zealand’s IRD is incredibly easy to deal with, and NZ is very easy to do business in. It’s hard to explain just how unnecessarily difficult and expensive getting stuff done in most of Europe is.

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