France: Keolis to electrify intercity bus transport

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France operates one of the nation's largest intercity transport networks with over 12 million passengers per year - and it is now increasingly electric between the cities Cannes, Nice and Grasse.

Image: Région Sud

Together with Keolis, the region wants to electrify the entire ‘Zou!’ intercity transport network between Cannes, Nice and Grasse. Some 107 electrically powered vehicles are already in service there, and 16 electric double-decker buses will be added in 2024. With all 123 buses in service, the decarbonisation of the area will be completed. Sixty-one electric buses will be used on the coastal strip between Nice and Cannes and 62 in the Grasse area. According to a local media report, the buses are made by Yutong and Heliez. In an official statement, Keolis emphasises that it is a unique project in France.

Keolis was awarded the concession for the project area in 2021. It is valid for eight years from 1 January 2022. In addition to the complete fleet electrification, the operator committed to increasing the frequency of the service by 30 per cent. According to the information provided at the time, the transport network in question comprises three high-frequency lines, two airport lines and twelve regular lines. The two sections won by Keolis include, as mentioned, the main cities of the region (Cannes, Nice, Grasse and Antibes), but also several business parks and tourist centres, Nice-Côte d’Azur International Airport and the Sophia-Antipolis Technology Park.

It should only be the beginning for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, which unites six départements and has a population of around five million. By 2028, all intercity buses in the area should be emission-free – a decision made at the regional level and part of the climate plan “Une Cop d’Avance.”

Renaud Muselier, President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur Region, emphasises the strategy for improving and decarbonising transport services, which is unique in France so far: “Developing clean, reliable, high-performance public transport will always be at the core of the region’s transport policy! With Zou!, leave your car behind and travel on 100 per cent clean transport!”

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur-South Region has been grouping its transport networks under the Zou! brand since September 2018. It applies to all buses and trains on the regional transport network, gradually replacing the old brands TER, LER, Chemins de Fer de Provence, Cartreize, Varlib, TransVaucluse, Hautes-Alpes by coach and Lignes d’Azur.

Marie-Ange Debon, CEO of the Keolis Group, adds: “Keolis is proud to support the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region in its energy transition policy. We are working in close consultation with the region, and we share the same vision of the public transport service as a contributor to social cohesion, low-carbon mobility and dynamism for the economy and the tourism sector. Together, we are working to build a cleaner, more sustainable future for the region.”

keolis.com, nicematin.com (in French)


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