Heather in Rennes: Grève Consequences

As much as I enjoy living in Philadelphia, I have a love/hate relationship with its public transportation system. I love SEPTA, in that it gets me where I need to go, and I hate it in all other respects. It feels like everytime I try to use SEPTA, the buses are running late, or the subway stations are under construction. And if it’s not that, there’s peddlers trying to sell me bootlegged disks or sketchy vials of perfume. Not to mention, they just raised the price to 96 dollars per month.

In contrast, a monthly pass for the metro in Rennes is only 32 euros ($38) for an adult under 26. Rennes is one of six French cities to have a metro. It’s a fairly small city so there is only one line, and it is extremely efficient and easy to use. While the size of the metro cars are smaller than the subway cars in Philly, the trains arrive every two minutes on weekdays, and there are digital message boards to inform people of when the next metro will arrive. Moreover, the buses in Rennes are extremely punctual.

In my experience, the Rennes metros are much cleaner than American subways and there are way fewer people asking for money. Furthermore, much like the Indego bike stations in Philly, there are bike stations throughout Rennes and they are free to use with a monthly metro card. I even noticed a bike pump nailed to the sidewalk in the historic center of Rennes, which I thought was really cool. Things like that and the low cost of public transportation show how much the city encourages its citizens to be environmentally friendly.

However, transportation in Rennes isn’t perfect. It is common for strikes, or grèves, to occur, especially at the beginning of the school year. And so, while SEPTA strikes occur only once every few years, public transportation strikes in Rennes are expected. My French teacher joked that every year students will show up late, because they have strikes as an excuse. And that turned out to be the case for many of my classmates when the buses went on strike in our first week of school. Luckily, the metro doesn’t go on strike because it is automated, but it was definitely overcrowded that day. Another thing worth mentioning is that ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft aren’t present in Rennes, so if you’re out late, you have to be aware of when the last buses and metros are running, or else find another way to get home safe, via taxi or taking a long walk home with a friend.

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