When Citroën and Renault operated coaches: new entrants and old networks in the Paris metropolitan area in the 1930s

By Arnaud Passalacqua

At a time when the mobility sector is witnessing a proliferation of offers supplied by a variety of companies, when markets are opening up to competition, and when the Paris metropolitan area is about to enter a new era with the Grand Paris Express, this article looks back at one of the first historical episodes in which such a mix took place: the 1930s. On a background of economic crisis, which required car manufacturers to find new outlets, and an urban crisis, marked by the growth of poorly served suburbs, the then established framework of public services was challenged by the new competition from Citroën and Renault coaches. The two manufacturers were deploying a new, very proactive approach, directly inherited from the automobile industry, in a world marked by the logic of operators who were not inclined to take risks. But the institutional resistance to the development of their services eventually gave way and they were integrated, more or less, into the perimeter of the transport offer, redefined by the policy of coordination between rail and road that was then elaborated. In so doing, it helped to push back the other, wilder and less identifiable, form of new competition represented by shared cabs, which were also triggered by the economic crisis.

  • urban transport
  • Paris
  • car manufacturers
  • competition
  • mobility market
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