Dk Plus de Mobilité

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This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)

« DK Plus de Mobilité » is an ambitious transportation policy led by the Dunkirk Urban District Council. This project aims to increase the share (less than 7%) of public transit in the Dunkirk area (200 000 inhabitants). The main challenge and specificity of this project – developed in consultation with local population - consists in combining the upgrading and modernization of transport infrastructures with the implementation of free public transport for all.

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On the 1st September, Dunkirk has become the largest European urban zone to have its bus network entirely free for all. By taking this step towards free bus, local authorities wanted to participate in a revolution of mindsets, a deep-rooted paradigm shift in urban mobility.

The mobility in Dunkirk was indeed characterised by an over-representation of the use of vehicles. The share of public transportation recording a constant fall in recent years, falling beneath 5% in 2015. This major place of car in the city has widely effects on pollution, city-centre congestion, household expenses, etc. The development of public transit was even more important that a quarter of the 200,000 inhabitants of the urban region of Dunkirk do not own a car. These problems have placed the issue of free public transport at the centerpiece of the 2014 local elections. Leaded by Patrice Vergriete, the aim of the new majority was to develop free public transport to reach a share of 10% by 2020.

In this sense, development of public transit has been thinking as an active cross-cutting policy against all forms of social, economic and environmental inequalities. In addition to fight against decongestion and pollution, public transit policy is also a mean of combating social exclusion, geographical isolation of districts and individuals by giving to anyone the chance to access leisure activities, public infrastructure, shopping areas, jobs, etc. Moreover, implementation of new public transportation infrastructure has given the possibility to rethink the city and its uses, with the local population being involved in the decision-making process. Thus, the urban district council coordinated many public meetings before and during the urban redevelopment work and also implemented, within Dunkirk, what was called the « Fabriques d’Initiatives Locales » [Local Initiative Factories] which allowed residents of a neighbourhood to work with representatives and technical experts to provide concrete solutions to transportation requirements. It also organised a vote, of which 25,000 people participated in, to select a project of pedestrianisation place in the main square of the city. Beyond the choice whether or not to close one of the main roads, it was dealing with the role of the city centre, the way we encourage its animation, economic and business development.

The global cost of the project is about €60 M excluding VAT. We intervened in six large sectors of the conurbation and there were many interventions throughout urban area to improve the sharing of the public space, safety of travel, quality of life and the performance of the bus network. « Dk Plus de Mobilité » was implemented without increasing the tax burden and by controlling the debt level of local authority. The anticipation have allowed to make a provision for the investment required to roll-out our new network. The service itself was already widely funded by the local authority as the price of a ticket only covered 10% of the cost of a trip. For Dunkirk, free transportation is therefore a strong political choice, but also a smart one.

The first results of bus attendance are very positive. Since the introduction of the entirely new and free network on September 1st 2018, the bus transport patronage has risen by around 50% on weekdays and 120% on weekends! With a more effective, quicker and more comprehensive network, which is socially fair, over 80% of the population is now located less than 300 metres from a bus stop which will be served every 10 minutes.

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