4-Week Protest in France Boosts Bus, Ride-Sharing Services

The overall economy of France remains unbothered as the ongoing protest reaches its fourth week.

French rail workers started the strike last month. The strike resulted in the country’s unpredictable economic results, such as travel chaos for rail and airline passengers.

However, recent changes in the French economy blunted the walkout. Searches on ride-sharing company BlaBlaCar’s app rose six times, making carpoolers rendezvous. Also, online bookings on the intercity bus line FlixBus jumped 60 percent when train employees are off the job.

According to the Munich-based bus company, the increase is 90 percent on its most popular lines from Paris to Lille, Lyon, and Bordeaux.

The general manager of FlixBus France Yvan Lefranc-Morin said, “It’s a boosting our notoriety because it attracts people who otherwise would never have taken the bus.”

Also, he added that the company provided 40 extra vehicles to meet extra demand.

France has been known for its number of paralyzing labor strife. An example of this is a protest over pension reform in 1995. However, the strike this year at the country’s national rail system SNCF has been limited.

Today’s growing technology makes people able to work from home, and car sharing services have grown in popularity. In addition, president Emmanuel Macron, when he was the economy minister, liberalized the transport market to allow intercity bus service.

Unions decided a full strike, opting instead for two-day stoppages every five days until at least June.

No Signs of Flagging

The French economy remains unbothered with the ongoing protest. Also, according to the SNCF, participation in the strike is weakening.

“Strikes are less effective at disrupting the economy today than in the past, partly thanks to technology and increased flexibility at work,” said Ludovic Subran, chief economist at Euler Hermes.

According to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), the strike’s overall impact on the French economy is ‘invisible’ because companies catch up after it ends.

This might make France President Macron stand with his decision to end special benefits for rail workers. His decision will likely harden possible steps to resolve his country’s unemployment rate. France has been the second-largest economy in the entire eurozone. However, despite its strong economic growth in six years, the country’s unemployment rate remains above 9 percent.

The French government has proposed reforms of the debt-laden SNCF before it will be open for competition in 2020. Macron proposed removing ‘special status’ for train workers. This will allow some of the workers to retire at as young as 52 years old. SNCF will also become a publicity-owned corporation rather than a government agency.

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