Almost everyone who has been to a concert or attended an event at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice will have a traffic horror story to share. Parking and access to the multi-use venue has been a serious issue of contention since the stadium was opened in 2013, and things are likely to get a lot worse now that the local government has pulled its free public transport system.
Last Friday, the Conseil Métropolitain voted in favour of stopping the free navette shuttles, which have previously provided transport to and from the stadium for many thousands of concert goers and sports fans.
In an attempt to explain the reasoning behind the decision, President of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region Christian Estrosi has said: “I had ordered the free shuttles [to be made available], but the region’s treasury estimates this to be a disguised attempt to help the club (OGC Nice) that cannot last. For several months, we have been asking OGC Nice to bear the cost as do other clubs in France. For now, we are still being met with a refusal, which means that season ticket holders of the Lignes d’Azur and the football club - who should receive free transport with their ticket - may have to pay too.”
The shuttles are usually laid on for match days and large-scale events. They allow the public to travel for free between the Marché d'Intérêt National (MIN) and the stadium before and after events.
The Conseil Métropolitain is suggesting a tariff for 5€ for a return ticket for the same journey that has, until last Friday, been free for all passengers.
Mayor of Nice Philippe Pradal has also spoken on the topic, saying: "We are talking about charging for a special service. We are not talking about the regular bus routes from the city centre to the stadium. We will apply the same tariff as for the other special services. It is not a tax, but a sum that will go directly towards benefiting supporters by financing access to the stadium.”
One man to speak out against the move is Pradal’s left wing opposition Patrick Allemand, who said: “You have built a stadium in the middle of nowhere. You are holding supporters hostage with this tariff. You are using them as cash cows.”
For the time being, the Nice Côte d’Azur metropolis will take charge of fees for OGC Nice an Lignes d’Azur season ticket holders.
Estrosi will meet with Jean-Pierre Rivère, the president of OGC Nice, this week to continue talks.