Tourism and Public Transport: a Winning Team? How French and European Transport Authorities Manage Tourist Flows
David Dubois, CEREMA – Direction Territoriale Centre-Est, Alicia Aliaga, CEREMA – Direction Territoriale Centre-Est
This paper presents the initial results of an overview relating to tourist dedicated transport measures in French and European cities and analyzes how transport authorities encourage tourists to use public transports.
The public transport authorities of large urban areas are increasingly conscious of the importance of considering tourist flows in their daily activities. At the European level, the attractiveness of an urban area relies not only on its reputation as a tourist spot but also on the accessibility of public transport or any active mode, as many tourists arrive by train or by plane.
This paper presents the initial results of an overview relating to tourist dedicated transport measures in French and European cities. It analyses three different aspects: what are the mobility measures provided for tourists, what information can they find about these measures and what are the fares implemented for tourists?
The quality and user-friendliness of the information provided to visitors and the simplicity of the fare system are important levers for encouraging tourists to use public transport. Observations made in more than 25 cities in France reveal that many urban areas need to improve their information measures. Indeed, observation of tourist office and public transport network websites shows that the information on transport and accessibility in urban areas is not sufficient for tourists. Firstly, foreign language translations are inadequate for foreign tourists preparing their trip via the internet. Secondly, tourist maps, are not readily provided on the main transport services and at tourist attractions. Tourists have to cope with transport networks maps that are often illegible. Moreover, in spite of developments in mobile phone technologies, that there are few tourist offices and transport operators that allow website visitors to download free mobile applications. Only the Paris public transport operator has developed an application specifically for tourists wishing to visit Paris by public transport. However, to improve tourists’ trips, cooperation between transport operators and tourist providers is essential and requires information system compatibility and the exchange of relevant knowledge.
An inventory of tourist transportation measures reveals a multitude of transport offers. Some of them enable tourists to move through the city, but are not mobility measures in the strict sense (for example, tourist trains, “hop on hop off” bus tours, etc.). Other transport measures are dedicated not only to tourists, but are especially used by them (cycle rickshaws, etc.). Lastly, we can mention “usual” public transport measures, incorporated mostly into the public transport network, through network pricing or the use of attractive transport modes such as river shuttles, maritime shuttles, funiculars etc. As such, they are not dedicated to tourists, although they represent a large share of users. The paper highlights the most relevant initiatives for tourist mobility in European cities.
Tourists and residents do not necessarily have the same mobility requirements, and it can be sometimes be worth setting specific fares for tourists. In recent years, tourist offices have begun to collaborate with transport authorities in order to provide tariff packages, combining transport and tourism. They are commonly called “City Cards” and include different mobility and tourism offers, such as free access to the public transport network, free access or discount fares for tourist attractions, etc. The paper describes the principle of the Paris and Lyon city cards, and compares them to other European city cards. Although Paris is a major capital city and tourist hotspot, its city card is neither the most recent nor most user-friendly for tourists, unlike that of Lyon, an example of the latest generation city card using smart cards technologies.
Association for European Transport