FRANCE: An expansion of tram services and the introduction of contactless open payments are highlights of the new contract for Transdev to continue operating the STAS public transport network in Saint-Etienne.
Running for eight years with an optional one-year extension, the contract was signed on June 23 by the President of Saint-Etienne Métropole Gaël Perdriau and Transdev’s Director, France, Edouard Henaut.
The Métropole said it was looking to expand public transport use through ‘an ambitious mobility policy’, with a range of ‘innovative, inclusive and scalable projects’ that would ‘maintain Saint-Etienne Métropole as a territory of innovation’.
Transdev’s target is to grow ridership by 15% to 20% by the end of the contract period, compared to the pre-Covid figure of 48 million trips/year, or 150 000 passengers a day. STAS ridership is currently running at around 95% of pre-covid levels, which the municipality says is around 10 percentage points above other French cities. Recent increases in fuel prices are also expected to encourage modal shift.
Noting that the pandemic has brought long-term changes to travel demand through a ‘massive implementation’ of teleworking and greater use of other modes including bicycles, the contract includes a specific customer acquisition strategy, with a particular focus on students and workers.
This includes increased promotion of the city’s €10 monthly pass for young people, senior citizens and disabled riders. The scheme attracted 10 230 additional users in its first year, of which half were under 26 and one third were new to public transport.
The contract will see the continued expansion of Mobility-as-a-Service through the Moovizy 2 app developed by Transdev’s technical subsidiary Citiway and STAS. This currently integrates eight different mobility providers in the Saint-Etienne region, offering both journey planning and integrated payment options. Magnetic ticketing is due to be phased out by 2025, with the deployment of open payment technology to allow occasional users to pay with their credit card.
Planned service improvements will see the introduction of late night services on the city’s three tram routes from August 29, building on the success of the Noctambus night bus routes. Trams will run until 01.00 on weekdays and 01.30 at weekends, rather than finishing at 23.30.
Five experimental bus routes are to be introduced, with the contract allowing greater flexibility for the partners to adjust services as required. On-demand transport is to be developed in 25 local municipalities, with the introduction of simpler booking using an online portal and a mobile app.