Montpellier, a dynamic and expanding city, attracts more and more residents from surrounding communities in search of professional opportunities or a pleasant living environment. However, this growing influx raises the crucial question of travel by residents of neighboring municipalities to the regional capital. Between increasing costs, saturated infrastructure and sustainable mobility issues, the question arises: will residents of peripheral municipalities pay a high price to travel to Montpellier?

Impact of new price increases

From September 1, residents of municipalities neighboring Montpellier will have to deal with a significant increase in public transport fares. The Tam network unit ticket will increase from €1.60 to €1.90, and the 10-trip booklet will increase from €10 to €15. These increases concern all those who do not benefit from the Free Pass, mainly non-metropolitan residents.

These measures, voted by the metropolitan council, do not fail to provoke reactions, in particular from Alenka Doulain, president of the Mupes group, who believes that these increases “fuel the territorial divide”.

Consequences for non-metropolitan residents

For the 500,000 inhabitants of the metropolis of Montpellier, public transport has been free since December 21, making Montpellier the largest community in Europe to adopt such a measure. However, for non-metropolitans, it’s a different story. The new fare increases add an additional financial burden for these users, often workers in the center of the metropolis.

Alenka Doulain emphasizes that these people “pay higher and higher rates” while they already contribute to the mobility payment in their companies. This situation creates what she calls a “double punishment”.

Arguments and justifications

Julie Frêche, vice-president of the Metropolis responsible for mobility, justifies these increases by citing the increasing costs of energy and recent investments to improve the transport offer. “The price of occasional transport tickets has not increased since 2016, despite inflation and new investments”, she recalls.

She adds that the majority of ticket costs are still subsidized by the Metropolis, and despite the increases, Montpellier remains among the cheapest metropolises in France for non-metropolitans and tourists.

New offers and services

To try to mitigate the impact of fare increases, the Metropolis is introducing new transport tickets such as the 4-hour ticket at €3.50 and the 7-day season ticket at €20. In addition, the P+Tram package will remain at €5.20, offering unlimited access to the entire Tam network for car occupants for an entire day.

The Véloplage summer service, which remains free for metropolitan residents with a Free Pass, is now chargeable for non-metropolitan residents since July 1.

Efforts to reduce the territorial divide

Beyond prices, Montpellier is also working on improving transport infrastructure to better serve peri-urban areas. The Metropolitan Regional Express Service (Serm), also known as the “metropolitan RER”, aims to strengthen the rail offer and other modes of transport to better connect the city center to its outskirts.

Michaël Delafosse, president of the Métropole, explains that efforts are underway to extend transport services to the west and north of the region, supplemented by express buses. The Metropolis is already working with eight neighboring intermunicipalities to reduce transport costs to only 40% for users in these areas.

Public transport fare increases in Montpellier raise crucial questions about territorial cohesion and social equity. Although the Metropolis justifies these increases for economic reasons, non-metropolitan residents find themselves at the forefront of these price changes, thus exacerbating a feeling of divide between the central city and its surroundings.