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RATP: “The situation has improved significantly”: Jean Castex responds to users

An interview that looks like a step-by-step.

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RATP: “The situation has improved significantly”: Jean Castex responds to users

An interview that looks like a step-by-step. A year after the dark autumn that the RATP went through, the CEO of the management since November 2022, Jean Castex, exchanged with users of the metro, bus and RER for the Parisian. During this meeting, five readers aged 20 to 65 questioned the former Prime Minister on traffic quality, network security and accessibility, pollution and the 2024 Olympics.

Regarding traffic, Jean Castex immediately emphasizes that “the situation has improved significantly”, after a “very difficult year”. The president of the RATP recognizes it however, "the account is not there yet", in particular because of the gap which separates the most modern lines (the 1, the 14) from the most dilapidated (7, 8, RER B) . Thanks to an "unprecedented" recruitment plan, the RATP would have managed to partially stem the shortage of bus drivers: only 4% of the workforce would still be missing. As a result, bus and metro “production” has improved significantly, now close to 90% and 95% of supply. The situation should further improve with the arrival of new trainsets, “more capacity” and less electricity-consuming, the MF19. The first prototype “will be deployed on line 10 in 2025,” assures Jean Castex. The oldest lines, such as 7 and 8, will be subject to accelerated renewal, the manager further promises. “We are going to discuss with IDFM (Île de France Mobilité, Editor's note) about anticipating modernization, apparently it is technically possible,” explains Jean Castex.

Concerning the persistent inconveniences in bus traffic, the CEO puts forward certain external causes, such as “works, coexistence with bicycles and scooters”, which would represent nearly six points of regularity lost. When at RER B, co-managed by SNCF and IDFM, Jean Castex recognizes that this is the “black point” of the Ile-de-France network. “New trains have been ordered but their delivery will not be completed until 2030,” he pleads, in response to a user visibly at the end of his nerves.

The manager was also questioned about the accessibility of the network, which is still marginal with regard to the metros. On this point, Jean Castex wanted to clarify the expectations of users. “Even if I had billions of additional euros, I am not sure that it would be technically possible,” he argued, underlining the “historically so deep, tangled network”. However, some lines will be partially accessible, such as line 11 in its current extension. This subject is not taken lightly at the RATP, assures Jean Castex. “The RATP has set up an accessibility committee (…), the meetings have been multiplied by two,” he specifies.

During its repeated incidents (breakdown on line 4 this summer), the RATP was singled out for its lack of information for the traveler. However, it is one of the CEO’s “priorities”. He assures that he “will carry out investigations” to understand why information is sometimes deficient in bus stations, and also “continue the training of drivers” so that they can better address travelers during incidents. .

Another pitfall of the Ile-de-France network: security. Jean Castex recalls that RATP has its own security forces, the GSPR (network protection and security group), which IDFM finances. Understaffed just a year ago, the GSPR would now have sufficient numbers (960 agents). Salary negotiations were carried out, as with bus drivers, to strengthen the workforce. “The next step” for the group will be joint actions with the capital’s municipal police. An agreement with customs has also just been signed. According to Jean Castex, “the police prefect’s figures show that incidents of violence on the network are decreasing.” There remains the case of women's insecurity. “In addition to the GSPR, we have 5,300 trained agents” who organize “exploratory walks,” assures the leader. “Descent on demand” will also be widespread on evening buses, recalls Jean Castex.

The former Prime Minister finally spoke on two topical issues: pollution in the metro and the Olympics. As a reminder, the Régie is accused by the Respire association of “deception and involuntary injuries” due to degraded air quality within the Paris metro. On this sensitive subject, Jean Castex played the card of caution. “The figures you give were recorded by people who did not have access to these standards,” replied the manager to a user who mentioned pollution of 18 micrograms/m3 on line 5. “We do not deny that there is a subject”, assures however Jean Castex, who calls to “objective the measures to be put in place”. The board has already launched a plan to "increase the fans" and switch to an electric braking system. “To date, studies on the subject show no excess mortality across the entire RATP cohort,” the former Prime Minister wanted to reassure.

As for the Olympic Games, do not panic either, pleads the leader. “With Olympic visitors, attendance will be equivalent to that of a month of October. It's more than a summer but in proportions that we know how to manage, ”he notes. However, there will be moments of "high tension", and "points of vigilance", in western Paris in particular. The event will be subject to a specific recruitment plan. To avoid the risk of a strike which could disrupt the smooth running of the games, the management will “start discussions with the union organizations this fall”, indicates Jean Castex.

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