Paris Made Its Metro Free Because the City's Pollution Sucks

Published On 03/23/2015 Published On 03/23/2015

The Eiffel Tower's unquestionably France's most recognizable landmark, but that point's moot if you’re in the City of Light right now, thanks to an ongoing smog debacle. To counteract the pollution problem, Paris is banning 50% of its cars from driving -- but it's also making public transportation free in the process.

Paris' mayor’s office announced a ban on cars with license plates ending in even numbers, effective today from 5:30am through midnight. During that time, only vehicles with plates ending in odd numbers can drive around the city center and its 22 suburbs. Emergency vehicles, hybrid and electric cars, and taxis are exempt from the partial ban, but cops are stopping 50 percent of cars in the crackdown. To make up for the inconvenience, public transit, bike-sharing, and car-sharing schemes have been made free while the ban's in effect.

The incentive, which other cities in Northern France have also adopted, comes after an alarming spike in pollution that temporarily made the air in Paris the filthiest in the world (yep, even worse than Beijing!), according to AFP. Though, worryingly, this isn’t the first time Paris has struggled with pollution levels; just last year, a similar ban was imposed to curb carbon emissions.

In any case, right now plenty of Frenchmen (and women) with odd numbered license plates are thanking their baguettes for the one day of the year they won’t be caught in a traffic jam.

As for folks with even-numbered plates... welp, at least there are bars near le Metro.

Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. Yes, that's a British accent. No, she doesn't watch Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.



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