French strikes: A guide for commuters on how to dodge transport strife
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French state railway operator SNCF warned Sunday of major disruptions caused by strikes this week that analysts say will be a major test of the political weight of the country's once fearsome trade unions.
Train drivers and other staff are set to walk off the job from Monday night at the start of three months of planned stoppages against reform plans announced by President Emmanuel Macron and his government.
Flight crews and ground staff for Air France also announced a further two-day strike for April 10 and 11.
In a statement Sunday, the SNCF said travel on Tuesday would be "very disrupted" with only one in eight high-speed TGV trains operating, around one in five regional trains and major cancellations on suburban commuter trains.
SNCF chief Guillaume Pepy warned that some train lines might be closed altogether due to the walkouts and that problems might accumulate over time because stoppages have been announced for two out of every five days until June 28.
36 days of strike action over three months
The SNCF said it will post updates of train schedules on its website at 17:00 each day, letting commuters know which trains will be running. Below are the proposed dates for train strikes over the next three months:
- Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4
- Sunday 8 and Monday 9
- Friday 13 and Saturday 14
- Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19
- Monday 23 and Tuesday 24
- Saturday 28 and Sunday 29
- Thursday 3 and Friday 4
- Tuesday 8 and Wednesday 9
- Sunday 13 and Monday 14
- Friday 18 and Saturday 19
- Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24
- Monday 28 and Tuesday 29
- Saturday 2 and Sunday 3
- Thursday 7 and Friday 8
- Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13
- Sunday 17 and Monday 18
- Friday 22 and Saturday 23
- Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28
Transport strikes in France often cripple the country's entire network, which is why it's important for commuters to have access to updated information on transport changes and alternative modes of transport. Here’s a list of how to stay in the transport loop along with some other travel options:
Updated train schedules will be posted on notice boards at railway stations across France. Information will also be available from the website Info Traffic or by telephone on weekdays.
- Info Traffic Ile-de-France (Regional information)
Most of the departments in France have their own regional bus service.
- Europebuspass has a list of each regional service.
Buses that travel long distances have been dubbed “Bus Macron” and include the FlixBus, Ouibus and Eurolines-Isilines lines.
In anticipation of the high demand for transport, Flixbushas scheduled between 300 and 350 buses for July and August, the equivalent of the “chassé-croisé” or peak holiday period.
Though fares tend to be inexpensive, rural services can be limited, especially on weekends. Buses usually run from 05:30 to 20:30, with many in towns and cities running to 00:30. Night services are provided in large towns until approximately 05:00. Eurolines provides a service to and from France from other countries.
For commuters inside Paris, there are various other transport options available. Paris has a self-service bicycle rental system, Vélib, which provides an ecological way of getting around. All bicycles are available for rental 24/7 every day of the year.
Cityscoot is a scooter sharing system allowing subscribers to rent electric scooters on a short-term basis. Scooters are available all week from 07:00-23:00.
Autolib is Paris's car-sharing system that allows subscribers to rent electric cars on a short-term basis. Its vehicles are available 24/7 from stations located throughout the city. Ouicar enables private car owners to rent out their vehicles to individuals.
Users can go on to the website and download the app in order to register as a driver or a passenger.
BlaBlaCar is another website that allows people to find carpooling options.
Daily commutes of less than 80km that are booked on "Blablalines" (a service of BlaBlaCar) will be free for passengers on strike days, said the founding president of the company. The offer is "valid for a limited two trips per day, per driver, and four trips with the same driver", and will be available to the first 60,000 visitors who book the trip via the application.
Air France staff will be on strike on April 10 and 11. The airline has promised to notify each of its customers of flight cancellations via text or email. Any changes to scheduled flights will be announced also on the company’s website a day in advance.