Increase of the Navigo pass: beware of the symbol

Dyears “the civilization of the middle class”, to use the expression of the sociologist Louis Chauvel, spatial mobility is central. Without it, this civilization collapses. Access to good schools – or to schools in general –, to employment away from home, to places of culture, worship and sociability is simply made impossible. We touch on the essentials: education of children, work, spirituality and leisure. A large supply of financially accessible transport has enabled the inhabitants of peri-urban areas and metropolitan areas to somewhat compensate for the effects of urban relegation linked to soaring real estate prices and the gentrification of working-class neighborhoods in large cities.

In short, a resident of Melun or Franconville can, in less than an hour, thanks to the RER network, get to Châtelet-Les Halles, in the center of Paris. This “one-hour” France, so described by the sociologist Jean Viard, has therefore organized its life around the last public services present, a commercial space and the proximity of a station – or a motorway entrance for car owners. In France, there is a TGV star that departs from Parisian stations and a RER star around Paris. Interconnected with each other, these two stars allow the French, but also tourists, to come and go in Paris and its region without too many constraints.

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407 euros per month in London

Only, today, the promise is thwarted. The expected increase in the price of the Navigo pass, from 75 to 90 euros, or 180 euros more per year, reduces the possibilities of opening for some of the 11 million Ile-de-France residents. In this case, there is no scale based on salary criteria that would reduce the price of the pass.

Manager or worker: in front of the automatic cash register, the price is the same. We will not discuss here the usefulness of revising its price upwards in the context of an energy crisis, even if a civilian nuclear power like ours may question its inability to cope. We will not discuss either the real price of such a pass, perhaps double the current price, which would allow the balance of the budget, investments and maintenance of the network. We will also not go back to the prices set abroad, higher than ours: 407 euros per month in London for a full subscription, 97 euros in Berlin and 91 euros in Madrid.

“Socially unbearable”

We can, however, see a symbol there. Politics is full of it. Speed ​​limitincreased from 90 to 80 km/h before the Yellow Vests crisis, was one, like the introduction of a tax of a few cents on the price of fuel and like, tomorrow, the ban on Crit’Air 5 vehicles (in January 2023) and Crit’Air 4 (2024) in low emission zones (ZFE), i.e. mainly in city centres. The Île-de-France region is the richest in the country, but also the one where the median disposable income is the lowest and where there is the greatest disparity in wealth between the West (Yvelines and Hauts-de-Seine) and the East (Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne). “The Navigo pass at 90 euros is socially unbearable”, warned Valérie Pécresse, president of the region, who asks the State to participate in the effort to find the 750 million euros necessary for the budget of Île-de-France Mobilitésthe transport authority.

Twice, in 2015 and 2017, the president of the region, who has jurisdiction over transport, has nevertheless undertaken not to increase the price of the Navigo pass. “It’s untenable to have a Navigo pass at 100 euros, and what is the justification? replied Clément Beaune, the Minister of Transport, to whom we attribute the ambition to replace Anne Hidalgo as Mayor of Paris. For its part, employers have indicated that they refuse to increase the mobility payment payable by companies with more than 11 employees. Nearly 50% of the network’s operating budget is provided by employers, through this payment, a tax based on wages and, indirectly, on the reimbursement of half of the Navigo pass to employees.

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“We are not transported, we are rolled! »

When a payroll tax is “unsustainable”, then political repercussions are to be expected. In 2019, in Chile, a quasi-civil war (11 dead) took place after the price of the metro ticket was increased by 30 pesos. After the establishment of a curfew, the Chilean president had given up this increase. We won’t get there, of course, but this Chilean precedent indicates a threshold effect. “We are not transported, we are rolled! cried the users of the Paris metro in 1970 after a great movement of mobilization, following the increase in the ticket book from 3.70 francs to 6 francs.

At the time, unions and left-wing parties demonstrated alongside angry Parisians. The Communist Party distributed leaflets at the exit of the subways to warn of the consequences of this increase. The CGT, she collected thousands of signatures of workers submitted to the Minister of Labor. A demonstration, bringing together 25,000 people, was organized between Les Halles and Opéra. Some took up the Italian idea of ​​a “self-reduction” in transport and electricity tariffs. The newspapers of the time reported the events by reporting (already) the poor quality of the RATP service. In the procession, mainly salaried middle classes, workers but also middle managers. The unions will struggle to mobilize beyond the workers who use transport, the motorist employees feeling little concerned…

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The battle of the zones

The situation today has changed. The inflationary context and global warming impose new behaviors. “A moderate increase in prices is possible given their freeze since 2017, but on the condition of a gradual return to 100% service compared to 2019. A sudden increase of 10, 20, or even 30% would be unacceptable” , writes the Association of Transport Users in a press release. The 4 million Ile-de-France residents holding a Navigo pass have in fact noticed many malfunctions in recent months: delays, crowded trains, “technical incidents”, difficulties in recruiting machinists, reduced traffic during peak hoursdilapidated, lack of air conditioning during summer heat waves…

An overall situation that dissuades drivers from abandoning their cars in favor of public transport, which pollutes less. The fight of the zones could therefore begin soon, if this increase was voted on December 7 during a board of directors of Île-de-France Mobilités. Zones 1 and 2, i.e. Paris Intramural and the inner ring, have several transport alternatives, such as a large offer of “soft mobility”, to get to work or travel on short journeys (“La France du quart d’heure”, according to Jean Viard), when the same may choose to telecommute. The others, those in zones 3 to 5, have no choice but to pay more for their Navigo pass, or to take their car back, with the certain desire to be heard during the next elections…

Increase of the Navigo pass: beware of the symbol