Thursday, 22 Feb, 2024


Paris 'not ready' for Olympics amid transport and housing worries

Sports Desk |
Update: 2023-11-24 11:58:08
Paris 'not ready' for Olympics amid transport and housing worries The official Paris 2024 shop in Les Halles shopping mall in the city. [Photo: Collected]

With less than a year before the Games kick off, the transport infrastructure in Paris is already under huge pressure, with commuters and tourists alike complaining of poor frequency, overcrowding and uncleanliness.

Nearly 15 million spectators and accredited people are expected to attend the 2024 Olympic Games, which run from 26 July to 11 August. The Paralympics follow from 28 August to 8 September.

The vast majority of events will take place in Paris and the surrounding Île-de-France suburbs.

Dual problems

Speaking on a talk show on TMC TV, Hidalgo said that while infrastructure for the Games would be on time, transport and housing were problematic.

"We still have problems in daily transport issues and we are still not reaching the comfort and punctuality needed for Parisians," Hidalgo said.

"There are places where the transport will not be ready and there will not be enough trains."

Many of the construction sites around the city have fallen behind schedule, notably for the RER E Porte Maillot station, which Hidalgo pointed out in the interview.


Another key issue facing Olympics organisers is public transport accessibility.

Only 3 percent of metro stations are accessible for people in wheelchairs for example, according to a documentary by French television channel TFI.

Although organisers have said special buses for wheelchair access will be available for the Games, this doesn't fix the problem in the long term.

An RATP transport company union spokesman told TF1 that the accumulated problems stemmed from "40 years of under-investment in Paris transport".

Chronic lack of investment

When asked if the responsibility fell on the Île-de-France Region, which has authority over Ile-de-France transport, Hidalgo replied: "The government a little too ... but we're all in this together, so I feel involved." 

Political opponents lashed out at the Socialist mayor, including Transport Minister Clement Beaune, a close ally of centrist President Emmanuel Macron, who said Hidalgo was "trying to create a buzz".

He also criticised Hidalgo for not being present at committee meetings aimed at discussing transport infrastructure.

The government has promised that all competition sites will be accessible by public transport.

"We will be ready," wrote Valerie Pecresse, the head of the Ile-de-France region that includes Paris, thanking transport staff for their efforts.

"It is an immense collective work which should not be tarnished by an absent mayor."

Shortage of accomodation

Regarding the homelessness issue, Hidalgo said she wanted to use the Olympics as a chance to find a long-term solution to the issue of people sleeping on streets and inside metro stations.

"Everyone agrees on the need to make progress. We must make progress but we are not quite there," she said.

Charities have been warning for months of a shortage of emergency housing during the Games with the influx of tourists likely to take up any available accomodation.

In an open letter to the organisers at the beginning of November, several groups warned: "The Games will cause profound upheaval in the city, with a very negative impact on people's lives: eviction of the homeless, fewer places in emergency shelters, closure of reception services, decrease in food distribution, and so on."

Source: RFI

BDST: 1158 HRS, NOV 24, 2023

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