At a time of swollen public debt, securing financing for new infrastructures is undoubtedly one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome. Financing from the private sector has raised hopes that new projects may be begun without putting extra pressure on public debt; however, it may also add constraints to a project, rendering it ill-adapted to public transport systems over which public authorities need to maintain control (for elements such as network service area, fare tariffs, construction and maintenance repair schedules, etc.). Moreover, the prevailing economic context raises questions about the potential outcome of a property bubble rupture, especially if a significant portion of project financing was based on capital gains in real estate.
It is therefore preferable for authorities to exercise extreme selectiveness in their project prioritisation, delaying projects whose budgetary requirements are beyond the capacity of public investment.
Top of the list of priorities is modernisation of transport networks and vehicles. These actions cannot be delayed, as they will inevitably lead to an avalanche of future issues, especially where safety is concerned. Issues arising in maintenance and upkeep can be kept in checkusing calls for tender to attract operational contracts that include service quality and regularity indicators. In the Île-de-France region, improvements achieved through contracts with operators SNCF and RATP have enabled notable advances in this perspective, but these will need to be supplemented by broader and more costly modernisation work. The recently-concluded management plans for RER lines in the Paris region include the replacement of vehicles, as well as infrastructure maintenance and railway line renovation.
This network modernisation will need to be accompanied by mobility management actions such as those introduced by authorities in London over the last 15years. Policies encouraging Eco-mobility in London are the result of the political desire to provide a public transport system capable of restoring the shortcomings of existing heavy transport modes that are either obsolete, congested or undergoing maintenance, as well as a bus network that experiences heavy delays during rush hours (and as a result of building working on roadways in central London).
Without support from corporate lobbies, these alternative systems are often difficult to implement. This is why projects must have the support of public bodies, especially in the context of the economic crisis. Such actions provide support for mobility management during periods where transport lines are undergoing upgrade work, thereby relieving pressure on networks and allowing the city to defer certain investments for new transport projects while adding to their existing range of public transport services.
New mobility services are ready to emerge, and are the only communications options that manage to effectively get messages across to reach local citizens, who are increasingly choosing more eco-conscious modes of transport.