Lille Metropole in northern France comprises the city of Lille along with Roubaix, Tourcoing and other suburban communities and has a total population of 1.2 million. A former major mechanical industry, food industry and textile manufacturing centre, it has become a distribution base for central northern Europe, being located at a major crossroads for road and rail transportation across Europe.
Lille Metropole has built up a strong public transport network that serves the urban centre and outlying areas. The network of services, which is the third largest in France, includes the 45-kilometre-long VAL (light automated vehicle) metro, the first driverless metro in the world. Other services include 19 kilometres of tram lines with low-floor vehicles; 38 bus routes; and 42 main rail routes (including eight that cross the border with Belgium).
The main challenge facing Lille Metropole after a period of substantial investment in its transportation infrastructure is how best to develop the links between its inter-urban and international transport services to ensure that the development is sustainable. The ultimate objective of this policy, which enjoys wide political support, is to double passenger levels from 100 to 200 million by the year 2015.
The Urban Mobility Plan (Plan de Déplacements Urbains, or PDU) is a tool for planning and co-ordination, aimed at ensuring that all the regional transport networks work effectively together (including provision for inter-modal facilities). Approved in 2000, this plan is being implemented in stages until 2015. It includes the gradual replacement of the entire bus fleet with buses running on biogas and/or natural gas with the aim of achieving a 100 percent clean public transport system.
CIVITAS I supported the introduction of a smart card system, enlarging the park and ride facilities, the introduction of a company mobility plan and boosting the overall urban mobility plan.