Angry commuters stood in “endless” queues at bus terminals and flooded crowded Metro stations, as the transport workers’ strike caused severe disruptions of traffic in and around Paris.
The gloomy Monday morning kicked off with traffic jams spanning more than 630km down major highways in the busy Ile-de-France region, which encompasses Paris and its suburbs.
Torrential rain exacerbated the transport collapse, sparked by the strikes carried out by workers at state-run railway company, the SNCF, and the RATP Group, which provides bus and tram service, along with operating the Paris Metro.
Bonne journée pic.twitter.com/2Izw2z9v5V
— Amara (@fatiAmaraa) December 9, 2019
The workers began striking on Thursday, in protest against the controversial pension reform. The media, meanwhile, reported about “endless” queues at train stations and people desperately “storming” the few buses which were not cancelled due to the strike.
Massive crowds flooded the Metro, with commuters trying to forcefully squeeze themselves into jam-packed trains. The chaotic atmosphere prompted tensions and arguments between the people trying to get to work.
“There is no way to get on the subway train. You can see people pushing each other around,” one commuter told BFM TV.
Intervention des forces de l’ordre au dépôt de bus de Paris Est. Déblocage du dépôt en cours. pic.twitter.com/62uUIyVqgZ
— Remy Buisine (@RemyBuisine) December 9, 2019
The anti-government protesters have also added fuel to the fire by erecting barricades and blocking the access to several bus terminals. They were later dispersed by riot police.
Ten of the city’s 16 Metro lines are not working, while another four only offering limited services. Likewise, only 15 percent of trains across the country are running normally, and travel by bus remains constrained as well. This forced commuters to switch to bicycles, scooters and carpooling.
Aside from transport disruption, the strikes took a toll on Christmas shopping. Secretary of State for Economy and Finance Agnes Pannier-Runacher said that trade has seen “an overall decrease in turnover.”