ZFE in Toulouse: “catastrophic for our budget”, “refuge” for the environment… Relaxation not only makes people happy

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While many Toulouse residents who own a Crit’Air 3 car welcome the suspension of the congestion charge zone deployment, as they will not have to change vehicles by January 1, others, who had already invested, deplore the government’s lack of anticipation.

A month ago, residents of the agglomeration driving in a car with a Crit’Air 3 sticker were preparing to be denied access to much of the territory of the Pink City, as part of the deployment of the Limited Traffic Zone. But on July 10, the government decided to relax this system, which has been subject to strong criticism. In Toulouse, the restrictions on the movement of Crit’Air 3 vehicles have therefore been postponed indefinitely. Or rather, until the pollution indicators are bad again on the territory of the metropolis. Until then, owners of pre-2011 diesel and pre-2006 petrol vehicles can continue to drive in the hypercentre. This is about 16% of the fleet circulating in the metropolis, or 44,000 vehicles mainly belonging to the more modest categories and the middle classes.

Some can therefore jump. They won’t have to rush after newer vehicles when the new and used market is saturated today.

Except that most of the interested motorists hadn’t waited for the fateful date of January 1st to change their old harp. If some are philosophers and say that now it is a good thing, the easing decided by the government makes others feel anxious, as told by the readers of La Dépêche du Midi who responded to a request for testimony.

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One of them, Patricia, changed her Crit’Air 3 “flawless, overhauled every year,” she says. So, when asked about her feelings, she doesn’t exaggerate: “There’s only one sentence that comes to mind ‘they took us for idiots’ and some of which are part of me they walked,” laments this girl from Toulouse. She’s not the only one who feels like she’s been tricked.

Corine, a resident of the Croix Daurade neighborhood, also needs her car for her job. “I couldn’t afford to wait until the last minute to change it. I found a Crit’Air 1 car but I had to take out a loan to buy it. I’m very angry because it took me a long time to sell it, I have a small salary, so it’s difficult every month, especially with the current inflation. My old car was very good. They don’t realize that what they do has consequences for us…”, says this woman from Toulouse.

“Changing the application rules of the ZFE is an aberration”

Marie, works at the university hospital of Toulouse. This Cadours resident makes daily round trips to the Pink City and cannot rely on public transport to do so. «My car, to which I was also very close, could no longer enter the city by 2024. I had to change vehicles. I wasn’t in favour, both from an ecological point of view because it means scrapping a car while it’s still perfectly functional, and economically because this purchase was made to the detriment of holidays. An impression does not leave this Haut-Garonne, the one “that they simply tease us for reviving the automotive industry and forcing people’s hands while at the same time learning about the construction of the largest cruise ship ever built… a big (ugly) joke”, he concludes.

Many of them have made the money to buy a good used or new car, sometimes sacrificing holidays on the altar of the ZFE. An expense that Patricia, this single mother, would do very well without and which puts her financial balance “at risk”. While some were entitled to the aid, others, whose income is just at the threshold to qualify for it, have had to do without it.

A resident of Muret, Dominique goes to the Purpan hospital every month. In order to continue going there, in February 2023, she invested in a used Clio Crit’Air 1, “drawing on my savings and taking out a mortgage in 48 months”, she explains. “All this for nothing. When you are in the hospital car parks or when you arrive in Toulouse from the A62 motorway and you see the cloud of pollution above the agglomeration, changing the rules for applying the ZFE is an aberration,” she criticizes.

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Grégory had been driving a fuel-efficient sedan for many years. This resident of the Toulouse hypercenter gave up last summer and invested in an LPG car. Today he is “desperate for this retreat which will improve neither the air quality nor the quality of life in the city …”. “We are bearing the brunt of the effects of global warming but we do not see the shadow of a political courage equal to the challenges! Ladies and gentlemen leaders, could you have the honesty to go beyond your partisan quarrels and your personal interests to serve the general interest and finally offer us a realistic, readable and serious action plan, please”, he says.

A government decision, which while satisfying many individuals, nevertheless leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many others. In the meantime, aid is still active for those who would like to change their Crit’Air 3 again. “It is not above all a question of slowing down the renewal of vehicles undertaken since the launch of the ZFE, but we have avoided forcing it too brutally for the most modest, whether private individuals or small businesses,” said the mayor of Toulouse, Jean-Luc Moudenc on July 10.

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