Hérault/Gard: The “metropolitan RER” of Montpellier wants to increase transport offers

This Thursday all political actors in Hérault signed a commitment: to apply for Serm (Metropolitan Regional Express Services). This involves strengthening and densifying like never before all existing means of transport in part of the Occitanie region, Montpellier, the Hauts-Cantons de l’Hérault and Gard by promoting intermodality. Nearly a million people are affected. A range of offers to also encourage residents to use the car less. All that remains is the green light from the State and the funding…

After Toulouse, Montpellier. At the first meetings of Urban Mobility and Territories, in Toulouse, on January 24, political leaders defended the idea of ​​a “metropolitan RER” in the Pink City, as Dis-Leurs explained it to you HERE. To free the urban area of ​​eToulouse from its pesky traffic jams by offering a range of alternative transport options to the car. It will not be a commuter train but a plan for better accessibility to the metropolis, improving interconnections and, to do this, creating new infrastructure. The file was submitted in March for a decision in the summer. There remains the thorny question of financing which amounts to at least several hundred million euros… Jean-Luc Moudenc, last March, had specified that, according to “Elected officials specializing in the issue, the cost would be more around 15 billion euros or even 30 billion euros…”

Toulouse and Montpellier: “Two equal projects”

The elected officials in unison. Photo: Gilles Lefrancq, Occitanie Region

In Montpellier, same fight: break the traffic jams in some of the most congested cities in France. “There will be no turf war; we need the two Serms, in Toulouse and Montpellier”, formulated Jean-Luc Gibelin. This Thursday, there too, meetings were organized to show the striking force of all that the Montpellier basin and its area of ​​attraction have elected officials converging towards “a political consensus”, as Michaël Delafosse, mayor of Montpellier, and Jean-Luc Gibelin, vice-president of the Occitanie region, said. In this territory of almost a million inhabitants (+ 1.7% per year) including the upper cantons of Hérault, the east of this department and a good part of Gard and which comes close to 170,000 daily trips, “We need state certification in the same way as the Toulouse hub-and-spoke project. These are two equal projects. They also need to be financed…”, explained Jean-Luc Gibelin, recalling that all the communities of communes, all the political actors in this territory have signed with both hands.

Trains, buses, metro, tram, bike…

Photo: DR.

This is where the problem lies. The government – ​​the law gave shape to the future Metropolitan regional express services (Serm) on December 18, 2023 – explains that there will roughly be a validated project for each of the thirteen French regions. And only plans to release a rupee of Sansonnet: barely 767 M€ for all the projects while each one costs billions of euros… It is a question of densifying the public transport network. Trains, buses, metro, tram, bicycle but also by lanes dedicated to bicycles and buses. It also means benefiting from more train frequencies (we are talking about 10 minutes to 15 minutes during peak hours); earlier and later in the day; optimize intermodality and above all invest heavily in infrastructure and rolling stock…

A project for the next ten years. And the definitive answer will be given by the end of the year. Furthermore, vice-president of France Urbaine in charge of mobility, Michaël Delafosse must have been very reassured by the echoes of the government, including because the current Minister of Transport, Patrice Vergriete was mayor of Dunkirk who showed the way on the free public transport that Montpellier followed. And that he “knows that we must support the territories on this subject. This Serm cannot escape us.”

Eight more trains per day between Montpellier and Nîmes, twelve more between Sète and Nîmes

The Region considers the train – the least polluting mode of transport – to be a real opportunity for mobility in Occitania. Photo Gilles Lefrancq-Occitanie Region

Jean-Luc Gibelin again: “The Montpellier project is very original since it connects municipalities, urban areas, etc.” This involves adding eight more trains per day between Montpellier and Nîmes, an oversaturated line, and twelve additional trains between Sète and Nîmes during peak hours; to take advantage of this to increase the amplitude, from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Carole Delga mentions more than 100 trains per day). In the same way, to allow “express coaches” to circulate if possible on dedicated lanes, between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., etc.

Michaël Delafosse: “A historic commitment”

Google street view in Sète. Ph. Olivier SCHLAMA

President of the metropolis, Michaël Delafosse spoke of a “historic commitment: for the first time we are all together, all elected officials, here to talk about mobility”. What to say to the State: “Governance is united. It’s a challenge that must be taken head on (…) People don’t care about administrative boundaries; what they want are solutions to their travel: a better transport offer, performance. It’s land use planning.” The mayor of Montpellier reiterated that a “single, simple, readable transport ticket, on smartphone, will be essential.” And to add: “We have the greatest population growth in the country; for a long time it was local actors who financed infrastructure. So, yes, the LGV is finally underway but if Macron wants to respond to the ecological and social emergency, this file must be retained, labeled and financed by the State.” It also depends on the progress of the LGV supposed to free up train paths.

Launch “express coaches”, recover the ex-A 9

Michaël Delafosse took several examples such as “express coaches” which could materialize in their own site west of Montpellier and which is very interesting: “We asked that a lane be reserved on this new road for buses which could connect to tram lines 3, 5 and 1 to the SNCF Sud de France station. He also mentioned the future of the ex-A 9, which has become an urban boulevard but which has kept its status as a motorway… The idea is that the State returns this ribbon of bitumen to the metropolis or the region to be able to carry out work there and size it, for example at the Zénith roundabout, as in Lyon or Grenoble, with an integration route at Odysséum.”


The “RER” popular with residents

According to an Ifop survey on the transport and travel habits of residents of the Montpellier urban area, users say “yes” to Serm Montpellier Méditerranée!
– 46 minutes is the average daily travel time expressed by respondents;
– 69% of respondents mainly use their private car for their daily trips to or around Montpellier;
– 71% of residents are satisfied with public transport in Occitanie, compared to a national average of 64%;
– 49% are ready to part with their personal vehicle for daily trips;
– 49% of residents have given up taking public transport due to unsuitable timetables and 40% due to poor access;
– Time, cost and accessibility are the 3 essential criteria in their choice of daily transport;
– 85% are in favor of the development of metropolitan RERs in Occitanie.

Also read on Tell them !

File: Toulouse and Montpellier go all out to break the traffic jams

Attendance jumps by 23%: Free trams and buses for all, in Montpellier, it’s transporting!

Transport: “The Metropolitan RERs are a necessity, a need in Occitanie”

Toulouse: Delga, Moudenc and Vincini apply together for a metropolitan “RER”

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