This could be the culmination of several months of a fierce struggle, launched in the aftermath of the Covid crisis by Valérie Pécresse in order to find and include in the law new tax revenues to finance the Ile-de-France public transport for which she is responsible. . Not only to guarantee the proper functioning of the existing network, but also to continue modernization investments and above all to participate in the creation of the region's future supermetro: the Grand Paris Express. For this, the president of the region and of Île-de-France Mobilités (IDFM) has been calling on the State for help since 2020, organized the conference on the financing of Ile-de-France transport last January and has been waiting, since then, for the return of the government, which looks imminent.
“Discussions are underway to reach a memorandum of understanding,” assures the entourage of the regional president this Saturday, confirming information from the specialized site Mobilettre. A text would currently “shuttle” between the president of the capital region and the office of the Minister Delegate in charge of Transport Clément Beaune, and everyone would have “good hope of reaching an agreement by Tuesday”, the day of the next council of directors of Île-de-France Mobilités. Highly anticipated, this document should in particular detail the commitments made by the government in the letter from Clément Beaune dated July 17 and addressed to Valérie Pécresse in which he said he was “ready to seek a sustainable and balanced financing solution” and pleaded for a sharing of effort “among all stakeholders”.
On the program therefore: the increase in the mobility payment (VM), paid by Ile-de-France companies outside the greater suburbs, the recovery of a part of the tourist tax, paid by tourists staying in the region as well as the reduction in the fee owed by IDFM to the Société du Grand Paris (SGP). Enough to maintain the current financing balances for public transport in the Ile-de-France region: 52.5% of operating revenues covered by tax revenues which are the responsibility of the government and voted in the finance law, and 47.5% by contributions from communities local and travellers, set by the IDFM board of directors. And time is running out, because “the whole challenge of the memorandum of understanding” is to be able to integrate this new taxation into the 2024 finance bill, the first version of which should be unveiled in the coming days.
The goal ? Avoid a very sharp increase in prices charged by IDFM, like the (very bad) one experienced by users on January 1st. Holders of the Navigo pass then saw the monthly cost of their subscription jump by almost 12%, from 75.20 euros to 84.10 euros. An increase at the time inevitable for IDFM, with its back against the wall due to the drop in revenues and the increase in operating expenses. This is the reason why the president of the region had once again insisted during the last IDFM board of directors to finalize this agreement which “would make it possible to rule out the socially and ecologically unacceptable disaster scenarios of increasing the Navigo pass”.
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At the same time, a discussion would have “started a few days ago between Valérie Pécresse and the seven Ile-de-France departments and Paris” so that the contribution of the latter increases by 2%, in addition to the cost of 2024 inflation, the rate of which should be fixed between 2.6 and 2.8%. Concretely, this would mean for them an increase of between approximately 4.6 and 4.8% in their annual contribution. And to make things easier, the Region is committed to doing the same, with the aim of “limiting the increase in prices for users as much as possible”, we explain internally. Even if it means having to carry out “a significant savings plan”, knowing that today, the Region is “the biggest financier” of public transport in the region, on the community side. More than half of the amount paid by them comes from the regional council's coffers.
If the departments “are there” and accept this “fair distribution of efforts”, as the objective pursued by Valérie Pécresse is described, this would make it possible to limit the increase in the price of the Navigo pass to the sole cost of the pass. inflation “far from the increase of last year”. That is to say an increase in prices of less than 3%, of a little more than two euros, almost painless. This decision would also have the merit of satisfying user associations, who have never been against an increase, on the condition that it is only based on the level of inflation. “Prices will increase on January 1, 2024, but in a much more reasonable manner than during last year's psychodrama,” says Arnaud Bertrand, president of the Plus de Trains association. But for this user representative, “that prices are increasing like inflation is audible, especially as new lines will open, but what is less clear is that we are still far from the quality levels of service in 2019, particularly on the RER and Transilien lines.
In the meantime, the Association of Île-de-France Departments (ADIF), which brings together the seven Ile-de-France departments, is calling for a “Grenelle des transports en Île-de-France” to be held. “In January of this year, meetings were convened to discuss avenues for sustainable funding for Île-de-France Mobilités. At the time of choice, it seems essential to us to repeat this collegial exercise to reach an agreement and enlighten public opinion on a subject which personally affects millions of our fellow citizens,” they wrote in a press release. Together, they hope, “beyond emergency measures”, “to define the means to guarantee long-term financial balance and the modernization of the Ile-de-France public transport system”.