Miscellanea Geographica: Regional Studies on Development (Mar 2017)

The renaissance of tramways and urban redevelopment in France

  • Boquet Yves

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21, no. 1
pp. 5 – 18


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Tramways have made a remarkable comeback in France since the 1980s. An organization of public transport based on the decentralized administration system set up in the early 1980s has allowed local urban authorities to make their own choices to develop public transport networks in the context of automobile domination. As in many other countries, worries about fossil fuel dependency and demands concerning sustainable urban development appear as strong elements in favour of urban light rail. However, in France, tramways are not just technical solutions for traffic congestion, they have also become a symbol of a cultural mutation in urban development planning. Coupled with a national political push for a more inclusive city in social terms, tramways are the backbone of contemporary urban policies, in a French version of transit-oriented development (TOD), especially for mid-size cities.