dimanche 1 juillet 2007

The tramway has finally arrived in Marseille, after about 30 years of construction, give or take 27 years.
This weekend the tram is free for everyone to use, until the official inauguration on Tuesday with President Sarkozy.
Personally, I am not super impressed. They spent ages tearing up the streets and making noise, tons of money, and finally, what is the result? Two lines of tramway tracks, which are pretty much like buses. They have to stop at each crossroads and wait for the crazy drivers to stop running the red lights, so unlike the subway it doesn't go much faster than the traffic, makes two less lanes for the traffic to circulate on, and cost a lot of money. (Oh, and one fabulous bus/subway strike in Nov 05 that left me walking to and from school each day). In no more than 6 months, I am betting, they will be covered with graffiti and not look nice. The trains are super long, about as long as two buses, but were not designed for ease of use (ie strollers, wheelchairs, etc.) in my opinion, plus feature easily-engravable wooden seats.
It is as if a whole bunch of city planners got together a few years ago and had the following conversation:

- We want Marseille to be a cool city. What should we do?
- Hmm, well X is a cool city.
- Yeah, yeah X is a cool city. What does X have?
- X has a tramway!
- Therefore, the tramway is what makes X a cool city.
- Tramway = Cool City, ergo if we put in a tramway, Marseille will be a cool city!
- Yeah! Let's do that!
- But wait, Marseille had a tramway and we stopped it.
- Shut up!

The tram is of a new generation, which means it is pretty quiet. Which therefore means that people don't hear it coming and get almost run over. So the driver has to keep ringing a bell, making it not quiet.
Plus, for years people have been used to parking their cars on the tracks, using them as another lane, not looking when crossing the street, etc. Sometimes the tram has to stop and wait for ten minutes or so for the idiot who parked right there to come back from his grocery shopping.

Oh well, it will only take a few accidents (hopefully) for people to learn that a) you shouldn't use the tramway tracks to get past the traffic bottleneck and b) look both ways when crossing the street!

I guess that with one public transportation ticket, you will be able to use all three methods of transportation in the city: bus, subway, and tram, which makes sense.

All of the businesses along the routes of the tramways have put up these city-sponsored (and mandated I'm sure) signs. "The Marseillais businesses welcome the tram"
Yeah. Sure you do. That same tram that lost you business because people couldn't actually get past the workers to get in your front door and the noise from the jackhammering was insupportable?!
So we shall see what happens.

3 commentaires:

Terina a dit…

gotta love those greves! i have to say that the ones in orleans and the one in strasbourg are not covered with graffiti. hopefully les marseillais will be as nice as those in strasbourg and orleans.

mlle smith a dit…

Hey, is Montpellier the X/cool city?! Because I'd have to nominate Montpellier for "very cool city"! :0)

I like the trams here...I detested the NYC subways and the delays on the subways often made walking the better option...taxis were often stuck in traffic.

Poppy Fields a dit…

My husband thinks it's hilarious that after tearing out Marseille's tramway, they now put it back in. I thought it much less funny all the times I was stuck there in traffic jams because of it's construction.

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