05/09/2012

Geneva rush hour traffic

When there was an accident at the Vernier tunnel the resulting tailback went right through the airport. Maybe this is partly why the area around the airport is a pollution centre.

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This experience shows how on a knife edge is the morning and evening rush hour traffic situation around Geneva: one accident in an awkward spot and road traffic grinds to a halt. Drivers fume in their minds, whilst almost all of the cars fume from the exhaust pipe as the engine ticks over. Needless to say, most of the cars have a single occupant.

I experienced this when driving from Versoix to Petit Lancy yesterday evening, Tuesday 5 May, at around 6pm. I hit a traffic jam even before Palexpo (which was when my car radio told me that there was an accident at the Vernier tunnel, blocking one lane of traffic!).

Like many other motorists (mostly ones in cars with French plates), I chose to get off the motorway by taking the next possible exit: the turning to the airport. This then meant that I got into another traffic jam going through the airport. This was made worse by some motorists, obviously having already experienced this situation, who went on a side road leading to the World Trade Centre underground parking, but then went past the parking entrance and back onto the main road.

Eventually, I got onto the Avenue Louis Casai going towards Balexert, then turned right to go over the Pont Butin. Of course, this was also in a jam situation (though less bad than the motorway to France via the Vernier tunnel). End result: about an hour sitting in my car. In mitigation, I can say that because it is a hybrid, it was not pollutiing when at rest or moving very slowly since this was battery-driven.

That same evening there was a report in the main RTS 19h30 news, repeated in this newspaper today, saying that the Swiss, in particular in the German-speaking areas, are increasingly using public transport, but yet the amount of car traffic is not decreasing. The explanation might be that they are progressively living further away from the workplace, for a variety of reasons (including, of course, the inability to find affordable housing near the workplace).

Is there any solution? Maybe the railway improvements, including the new CEVA rail project and the extra capacity with the double-decker regional trains from Lausanne, will help. However, a pessimist might perhaps think that these will, at best, stop the car traffic from growing. Pessimists, of course, are rarely disappointed!

My solution: I will buy a senior yearly rail pass then go to Petit Lancy (and elsewhere) by train and tram/bus (a lot easier and faster than yesterday).

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