Streetfilms: Parisian Bus Rapid Transit

For the third installment in her series of Paris, France Streetfilms, Elizabeth Press checks out Le Mobilien, the Parisian version of Bus Rapid Transit. Le Mobilien features curbside and onboard bus arrival info, mid-street boarding kiosks, a MetroCard-esque payment system, and — perhaps most crucial to its success — lanes that are physically separated from car traffic.

All that dedicated space means Le Mobilien faces remarkably few impediments compared to New York’s fledgling Select Bus Service, which, while a marked improvement by local standards, is struggling to establish itself atop the street-level vehicular hierarchy. Remarkable what a little curbing can do.

  • If only we could outsource our mass transit systems to the French and Japanese (sigh)…

  • Braddy


    You are missing out on a greater point: Parisians are willing to be civil, tolerate the new system, and not break the rules for their own convenience. If we in the U.S. could get such voluntary cooperation, many of our problems would be half solved.

  • rex

    Wow, just think NYPD would have two lanes to park in under this system. How cool would that be?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Am I missing something, or do I see vehicles other than buses in those lanes in most scenes?

  • allez

    Urbanis, many cities do in fact outsource to the French via the multinational corporation Viola. They are a firm cities hire to manage their transit systems. Toronto comes immediately to mind, but there are many others. New Orleans has recently selected them to run/rebuild its transit agency.

    It’s always surprised me how few vehicles stray into Paris’s bus lanes. Usually there are a few scooters and occasionally a cab goes in and out, but other than that they obey the rules to a remarkable degree.

  • Red

    Larry, taxis are allowed in the lanes (they do mention it in the piece).

  • I think you are missing something, Larry. All the vehicles I see are taxis, and at 2:36 Eric says that taxis are allowed in these lanes.

    Note also that Mobilien is a regional network, not just Paris.

    And take a look at this regional expansion plan: five metro extensions, six light rail extensions, two new light rail projects, eight new dedicated BRT rights-of-way and three commuter rail expansion projects. Many of them are either under construction or expected to start construction this year or next. Most of them are funded by the regional government to the tune of several millions of dollars.

  • Impressive stuff. Between Velib and this, Paris is an impressive urban model (not to mention, it looks gorgeous)

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Larry, taxis are allowed in the lanes (they do mention it in the piece).

    No sound in the office!

  • Here in Toronto there is discussion of looking at BRT. I take transit to work most days and it varies between 20mins and 45mins depending on traffic, lights, etc.
    Dedicated lanes definitely seem like the way to go … hopefully we get there before it’s too late!

  • Alek F

    Yes, BRT – as a supplement – may work.
    (and that’s a big “BUT”)
    their main mode of mass transit is SUBWAY (Metro),
    people predominantly use subway for transportation needs, not BRT.
    So, the bottom line is – BRT may work as an ADDITION to rapid transit network, not INSTEAD! (like some Angelenos think)
    That’s why our Los Angeles Orange line BRT is miserably overcrowded and slow…
    I just came back from Paris a few months ago, really loved it. The city is awesome.

  • andrew r.

    I see a checker pattern on the street. I think that type of street painting may work better on 34th street for signifying that is a “special” lane for buses only.

  • Excellent film, which I am happy to feature on my own blog on smart development and community at NRDC. We need more examples like this to point the way. Can it be replicated everywhere in the US, in its entirety? Maybe not. Can we learn from it? Absolutely.

  • Apologies for screwing up the link in my post above. Anyone interested in my blog can go here.

  • Louis

    The checkered design on bus lanes, are not used for the bus lane proper. They run through intersections, to show cars either to not use that lane, or to watch for a bus.


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