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Puget Sound Transportation Projects

Special Projects: Paris Metro

Art Deco Paris Metro Sign

In September 2008 I was able to spend a few days in Paris for my work. We did not have a car while in Paris, and therefore took the very extensive Metro system everywhere.

The system was very fast and efficient. We rarely had to wait more than a couple minutes for a train. Stations and trains, while old, were clean and felt safe. Some of the bigger interchange stations even had small stores in them. As was also seen in London, stations had huge ads in them, that were actually framed by tiles.

Some stations were themed to the area served. For example, the station for Centre Pompidou actually had a Jules Verne feel to it. The station for the Louvre had some exhibits on display in the station itself. This is an advanced version of the themeing we see here in the United States.

As was the case in London, once you were in the system you could travel anywhere. Most stations had interchanges with the other lines, allowing you to transfer easily. Also as was the case in London, you had to go through gates both entering and exiting. In Paris a ticket was good for one ride only, although a pass for regular commuters was available. So once you left the system that was it.

Since the Paris Metro is one of the older transit systems in the world, it, like the London Underground, had very old infrastructure in it. You could tell the tunnels and stations were old by the art deco designs and signage. At one point the line emerged from the tunnels and ran over a very old viaduct. Most tunnels were also cut and cover design, not like the deep bore tunnels we often see here.

There were many points of interest in the system First, many lines used rubber tired trains instead of steel wheeled trains, as you see in the US. Second, parts of the lines were above ground, again not expected.

A final point about the metro system: there were stations everywhere. No place in Paris is more than 1500-2000 feet from a station. This made getting around the city very simple and efficient. With interchanges to commuter rail to and from the airport (via the RER) and with the major train stations, we didn’t need a car at all during our stay.

Images © Ben Brooks