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Tisséo-SMTC / Weaving together sustainable journeys in Toulouse

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Tisséo-SMTC is expanding and improving the public transport network in Toulouse, as well as working with businesses to help them incentivise employees to use more sustainable forms of transport.

Across Europe, most commuter journeys are done by car. This creates substantial carbon emissions, congestion and local air quality issues. Tisséo is a government funded organisation which manages the public transport in Toulouse. By improving the public transport network, working with businesses and introducing a smart ticketing process, Tisséo has increased the number of public transport journeys by 80% from 2006 to 2013.

An estimated saving of over 22,000 tonnes of CO2 compared to 2006 levels.

A phenomenal 80% increase in public transport journeys.

72% of passenger kilometres in the EU are by car.

"With the phenomenal 80% increase in public transport journeys that Tisséo-SMTC has achieved in just seven years, it is leading the way to a future of low-carbon travel, with cities becoming cleaner, healthier, less congested places to live."

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‘Tisser’ means ‘to weave’ in French, and Toulouse transport operator Tisséo-SMTC has done just that – weaving together a comprehensive web of sustainable transport options to create a model low-carbon travel network. Aside from expanding and improving the public transport network, it works with businesses to help them incentivise employees to use more sustainable forms of transport.

What’s more, smart travelcards can be used across the whole transport network, including bicycle hire and storage as well as for buses and car parking. These measures combined have resulted in a phenomenal 80% increase in public transport journeys.


Since 72% of passenger kilometres in the EU are by car and one bus carries the same number of people as 30 cars but only uses the road space of three the services that Tisséo provides help people in their everyday lives, making their travel to and from work quicker, cheaper and more pleasant.

  • Over seven years the number of people travelling on Tisséo public transport has increased from 500,000 to 700,000 people per day.
  • Increasing public transport use has resulted in an estimated saving of over 22,000 tonnes of CO2 compared to 2006 levels.
  • Engaging the public through affordable ticket options, multi-modal integrated services at gateway hubs and the integration of local artwork.
  • A smart ticketing process, Carte Pastel, can be used on the entire public transport network, including bike hire, park and ride and the Citiz car club.
  • Partnership working demonstrates that when businesses and public transport providers work together, they can significantly influence employee travel behaviours.
  • Responsible for the public transport and travel planning for central Toulouse and the surrounding 99 municipalities, covering approximately 900 km2.
  • With the support of Tisséo, 700 people per day car share. This equates to 120,000km per month travelled by car sharing. Users saved approximately 22.6 tonnes of CO2 in 2012.
  • The Maison de la Mobilité in Basso-Cambo works in disadvantaged areas to show the unemployed how to use the public transport system.
Toulouse has a comprehensive web of sustainable transport options.


Integrated multi-modal travel

Tisséo manages the public transport network, which consists of a metro (underground trains), a tramway, busses and separate bus-only routes, bike hire, storage and cycle lanes, Citiz – a car club, Covoiturage (car sharing) and Park Relais (park and ride areas). Tisséo has a strong focus on increasing the car sharing activities within their area. Public transport is not viable across the whole area due to low population densities in the semi-rural areas. The car sharing programme is integrated into the public transport network through the use of car parking places designated for car sharing at public transport hubs. This further encourages multi-modal travel.

By integrating all the different modes of travel, users can complete their journeys in the most sustainable way possible. Just because a user can’t get a bus all the way to their place of work, doesn’t mean that they have to drive the whole way. Tisséo recommend they only drive, cycle or walk to their local network hub and then take public transport from that point onwards.

Carte Pastel

In 2007, Tisséo introduced a smart ticketing process called the Carte Pastel. Users can pre-load their cards with money at a ticket office or at an automatic ticket vending machine), then the card is swiped each time they use any of the public transport within the Tisséo area. This card can be used for all the modes of transport, including the Citiz car club, the bike storage facilities (Vélô Toulouse) and the airport shuttle service. Additionally, it can also be used for some of the local mainline coach and train services.

By making the public transport system operate seamlessly with one smart ticket, it improves the affordability and user experience. Ticketing data can be tracked to monitor usage and assist with planning.

Business Travel Advice

Tisséo is currently working in partnership with 135 organisations in the Toulouse area including large organisations such as Airbus, Thales and Motorola. They collectively have 172,000 employees. Some businesses work directly with Tisséo on a one-to-one basis whereas others will form a cluster of businesses and create a travel plan for their area or business estate. Tisséo help businesses to develop their Plans de Déplacements d’Enterprises (PDE) which are Green Travel Plans. Businesses that are taking part in the travel planning programme are able to see each other’s PDE information on the web platform. This helps them to learn from each other and share best practice. Tisséo use their Stand de la Mobilité (Sustainable Travel Fair) service to promote the use of non-car travel and public transport for businesses. An example of this advice service is their relationship with Airbus. Following an assessment of Airbus employee travel, Tisséo identified a need for an additional bus service. It has now introduced a public bus service to the area which will cater for the Airbus employee needs.

Additionally, Tisséo also run an Awards programme called Trophées Tisséo Écomobilité (Tisséo Mobility Management Award), which identifies and rewards businesses that show best practice in their PDE programme.

How is the programme funded?

All businesses in France with over ten employees pay a Mobility Tax (Versement Transport), based on a percentage of the total salaries paid by the business. The percentage is determined by the public transport facilities available in that area; in Toulouse it is set at 2%, which is the highest they are allowed to take. Tisséo receive this tax, which results in an annual income of approximately €300 million per year. This makes up just under half of the

Tisséo finance, the remainder comes from ticket sales, loans from banks and other government funding. The Mobility Tax creates a substantial and secure income for Tisséo, and it encourages the businesses to work more closely with Tisséo. Large businesses feel that they are paying for the public transport service and therefore expect a level of performance and infrastructure to meet this. Additionally, all businesses in France are required to pay 50% of their employees travel to work costs when using public transport. This is a strong incentive for employees to use public transport. This is very much taken for granted within the French culture and is not considered an ‘incentive’ but the norm.

The future

The Plan de Déplacements Urbains (Sustainable Urban Travel Plan) is the Sustainable Travel Management Department’s plan for their current and future actions. This includes the expansion of the public transport system to include additional Metro and bus routes within the existing area, as well as expansion to outlying areas through the development of new lines.

There is a cable car planned for the area to the south of the city to link two areas of high employment. One new road will be created as part of this plan, with 60,000 people expected to use it. The development of some additional new roads will also take place but these will be for buses only. They will also be creating new urban and commercial areas around the public transport network. Tisséo and the local authority of Toulouse are planning an integrated public transport approach that is central to the spatial planning of the city, rather than an afterthought. Tisséo provide best practice examples of smart ticketing and multi-modal integration. Large cities in Belgium and the UK could also adopt these programmes to improve their own services. Tisséo’s target is for the area to achieve 163 million annual journeys by public transport by 2020.

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