Publicado por: Ricardo Shimosakai | 01/07/2014

Grenoble Master Plan for accessible public transport will extend to all bus routes

Panoramic view of Grenoble from belvedere located at the top of La Bastille cable carPanoramic view of Grenoble from belvedere located at the top of La Bastille cable car

The city of Grenoble is located in the heart of the Alps, within a metropolitan area of 500 000 inhabitants. It is the city of new technologies, with the CEA, Minatec (innovation campus) and the Science Peninsula district, developed around the eco-district concept. It is also the city of social innovation, with the first local social welfare centre in France, education initiatives such as the

Parler Bambin programme designed to develop the communication skills of toddlers, and a long tradition of cooperation with local residents on projects of all kinds, including tram lines, new modes of transport (such as car sharing and ropeways), urban development and accessibility.

Development of accessible housing

French national law sets standards for accessible housing so that if a disabled person moves in only minor modifications are needed. The City of Grenoble has set itself an ambitious goal that 10% of housing in each new development will be accessible

Involving disabled and older people

The accessibility standards for housing have been developed by the cross-government committee on disability which involves organisations of people with disabilities.

At the local level the City has adopted the principal of Universal Design. Each project is studied with the involvement of both representative disability organisations and the end users. Usability is just as important as complying with standards.


The project manager for each development builds accessibility into the design from the drawing board stage. This means that accessibility is not an add-on but an essential element of the project.

On average, accessibility features are reckoned to account for between 3 and 5 % of the cost. This is a tiny amount compared with the extra costs that will be incurred in future years adapting non-accessible housing stock

“People with learning disabilities often have problems identifying and understanding things. Thanks to the work carried out in collaboration with the SMTC (the Grenoble public transport company), the users of ESAT (the organisation that supports disabled people getting into employment) are able to travel independently to work and to recognise which bus they need to take because of the sign on the front. The sign identifies the bus route using a letter and colour coding. The system is helpful to everyone”. Janine Vincent, Administrator, l’AFIPaeim (Association for Families of Children with Learning Disabilities)

Independent living

The City of Grenoble produces about 150 adapted properties every year and in conjunction with social housing landlords identifies the total stock of housing suitable for disabled and older people. The aim is to be able to meet the high demand for accessible housing in the Grenoble region. The good accessibility encourages many older and disabled people to move to the city.

Master Plan for accessible public transport

The master plan for accessible transport was developed by the transport company of Grenoble (SMTC) and was approved in 2009 by the Board of the company. This agreement set out the steps that would be taken to improve accessibility in the period 2009 to 2012. The plan is currently being reviewed and updated by an independent research organisation.

Involving disabled and older people

The Accessibility Plan for 2009–12 was developed in close cooperation with associations of disabled and older people. About 30 organisations are represented at SMTC’s accessibility forum which meets at least three times a year.

Deciding priorities for investment

Investment priorities are decided on the basis of three underlying principles:

  • to extend accessibility to all bus routes and encourage use of the general bus network by people with mobility difficulties;
  • to improve information on the bus and tram networks to make travel easier for people with vision or hearing loss and those with cognitive or mental health difficulties;
  • to confirm the role of the special service for disabled people as an alternative to mainstream transport and as a source of information and advice.

Meeting everyone’s needs

The needs of people with different disabilities and different mobility concerns are taken into account, including those with cognitive or psychological problems. Nonetheless, the approach of the SMTC is to look for improvements all the time through ongoing consultation with disability organisations.

The evaluation of the Accessibility Plan is an opportunity to take stock of what has been done and to get together with disabled people and their representative organisations at round table discussions to improve understanding of needs.


SMTC’s budget comes in part from the transport companies, in part from local transport taxes and in part from the General Council of Isere and the urban community of Grenoble Alpes Métropole.

Public transport usage by disabled people

Annual surveys of the number of disabled people travelling by public transport have shown a growth of 38% in the number of wheelchair users on the bus and tram networks between 2010 and 2012.

The table below, taken from the SEMITAG annual survey data, shows the number of wheelchair users on the bus and tram network on an average school day:

Number of wheelchair users on the bus and tram network on an average school day

‘Innovaccess’: Access to employment in the city

The aim of the Innovaccess scheme is to promote employment opportunities for disabled people by ensuring that every part of the journey from home to the workplace is accessible. The project brings together private and public sector bodies that normally work on accessibility issues in isolation and without coordination.

A holistic approach to accessibility

The key elements of the scheme include:

  • Making businesses more aware of the needs of disabled people and increasing their understanding through direct contact with them.
  • Studying local businesses and finding technical solutions to overcome access problems. Solutions are then funded through Agefiph (L’Association de Gestion du Fonds pour l’Insertion Professionnelle des Personnes Handicapées) or Fiphfp (Fonds pour l’insertion des personnes handicapées dans la fonction publique) which provide financial support to get disabled people into employment in the private and public sectors respectively.
  • Providing direct support for remedial works needed to make local businesses accessible.

Innovaccess is a ‘turnkey’ project which could be introduced in any city. It is a tool used to help meet the goal of Universal Design by anticipating the mobility needs of the whole population in order to develop the city of tomorrow

“Thanks to Innovaccess, companies understand the needs of disabled people. A deaf person can have on-demand access to a website that provides sign language interpretation at the workplace. That also means that employing a deaf person is no longer a problem”. Gérard Plassiard, ARDDS (Association for the rehabilitation and protection of people with hearing loss)

Source: European Comission

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