PARIS IS to build a circular light rail system through its outer suburbs under a six year investment programme, one of the city's senior transport officials said last week.
Two light rail lines in the north and south of the city will be extended at both ends around the edge of the city as part of a six year, £3.65bn, programme.
Guy Bourgeois, director of the city's publicly owned transport operator Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP), told an ICE meeting in London that two thirds of the city's new transport budget would be spent on public transport - the most ever.
This includes 68km of tramlines and 10km of metro. Funds will also be found for real time information at bus stops and improved security for commuters.
Metro lines in the centre will also be extended to form interchanges with the light rail systems.
Sixty interchange hubs will be created as well as 14 new priority bus lanes in the city centre and 45 in the suburbs.
A smart card ticket for all transport modes with fares deducted automatically from bank accounts is expected to become available from early next year.
By the end of 2002 all metropolitan and suburban trains will be fitted with smart card validators, said Bourgeois.
Newly elected socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe is also considering more tram proposals but is reluctant to push ahead with a congestion charging scheme in Paris, said Bourgeois.
'Political opinion is against congestion charging at the moment. It will probably be introduced if the system proves to be a success in London.' he said.