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“We will do the best we can”: on-demand descent at night makes its debut on RATP buses

The meeting is at 10:15 p.

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“We will do the best we can”: on-demand descent at night makes its debut on RATP buses

The meeting is at 10:15 p.m. this Thursday, September 14 at the Boulay bus stop, served by line 54. There, the former prime minister who became CEO of the RATP Jean Castex and the president of the region and Île -de-France Mobilités Valérie Pécresse have planned to randomly board a bus on the line to present the new major measure which should make it possible to offer greater security to users of public transport, particularly women: the “descend at the request". Little known to the general public, this measure - already widespread after a conclusive experiment carried out on several lines in the greater suburbs - is now being implemented on the RATP bus network. The principle is simple: every evening from 10 p.m., this “consists of offering the possibility to anyone who wishes to get off between two bus stops in order to bring them closer to their destination,” explains the RATP.

And if that evening, on bus 54, no one had heard of this measure, it is precisely because “this is only the beginning” of its deployment and “we need to communicate more” we we explain. The PR operation therefore begins this Thursday evening, with users intrigued by the cameras and journalists. As of this date, the service has already been implemented on 200 of the 247 RATP bus lines and should be implemented across the entire network from the beginning of October. Available on all lines which operate after 10 p.m., as well as on the Noctilien network, it is however not implemented on airport or motorway lines, nor on the two lines which operate on separate lanes. That is to say the TVM and 393 lines.

For Valérie Pécresse, who ensures that she has carried this measure “intended for essential workers, people who work at night, and particularly women who feel unsafe in transport” since her 2015 campaign, it is the culmination of several years of “social dialogue” with the RATP. “We deployed this system gradually on the networks of the outer suburbs, then the inner suburbs, and since September, the RATP network has switched to this system and we are very satisfied with it,” explains the president of the region. Before reminding that all drivers are now “perfectly aware” and “perfectly trained” for this request. They are also the ones who have control over the descent, which can only be done in a place that they have chosen, in complete safety, and only at the front of the vehicle.

This is what Latifa Hafna, a machinist at RATP for more than 10 years, explains to us, interviewed this Thursday evening in the middle of her tour on line 54. “Users must notify us of a stop before and tell us where they wish to get off, and I warn them that we will do the best", explains the driver, for whom the choice of descent is then made "according to the environment around", and to a place guaranteeing the safety of travelers. Far from being a constraint in her eyes, she confides that she already agreed to let people who wanted to get off before the measure was generalized. “There have always been crowds around certain bus stops, or certain poorly lit areas, which women want to avoid,” recognizes the professional.

While waiting for Ile-de-France residents to take advantage of this new system, Île-de-France Mobilités, the organizing authority for public transport in the region, intends to increase communication campaigns on this subject. In all RATP buses, the display has also been installed. “To facilitate your journey from 10 p.m., on certain areas of this line, you can ask the driver to GET OFF BETWEEN TWO STOPS”, we can read on this sign, which recalls the three safety rules: “ask for the driver to get off at least one stop before your destination", "the driver decides the place to allow you to get off in complete safety" and "for your safety, the descent between two stops is carried out only through the front door.

Sitting under the poster on Thursday evening, two women had not learned of this new system, but welcomed the information with enthusiasm. “We have all already found ourselves in the situation where we would have liked to be able to get off on demand,” says the first user, who notes however that, since she lives very close to the bus stop, she does not. will not necessarily use to return home. The second acquiesces, before rejoicing at the implementation of this “good measure” which will undoubtedly, according to her, “improve the safety of women on public transport”.

And this is the heart of the subject, as the Ministry of the Interior has just announced “a slight increase” in theft and violence on public transport in 2022, with a marked increase in sexual violence. The number of victims of sexual violence recorded has seen a sharp increase of 13% over one year and up to 19% in Île-de-France “in a context of freedom of speech”, analyzes the ministry. “It is essential that we not be afraid when we take public transport and a bus in particular,” affirms Jean Castex, for whom “this is really one of the major issues, along with other tools, from descent to demand”.

“It’s a very good measure, and we are very favorable to it,” said Salomé Minnebois. For this representative of the Women on the Move association, this is only one measure among all those that are or must be put in place to improve the mobility of women, and ensure their comfort and safety. An observation shared by Sandrine Charnoz, the project manager for combating sexual harassment in transport at RATP. “In recent years, we have put in place a certain number of measures which help to reassure, particularly women”, with the training of all the group's agents in the care of people who are victims of violence, the filing of complaints directly in stations, the installation of mirrors in the long corridors of the network or even the experimentation of “safe places” around the two Auber and Opéra stations.

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