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The new tram running along the southern edge of Paris offers a glimpse
of City Hall's plans for the future.
Its sleek carriages roll smoothly along a grassy strip built especially in
the middle of the boulevard, squeezing what used to be six lanes of
traffic into two narrow ones on either side.
The tram, which opened earlier this month, is a key project of Paris
Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, a Socialist, and his Green deputy in charge
of transport policy, Denis Baupin, in their bid to force drivers out of
their cars and onto public transport.
While other cities have sought to stem the flow of traffic in their grid-
locked centers by charging drivers for the right to enter, Paris has
kept the city gates open but slashed the space available for cars
by adding bus lanes and widening pavements.
"Our aim is not to ease congestion. Our aim is to reduce pollution,"
he [Baupin] told Reuters in a telephone interview last week.
The Airparif observatory estimates that by 2007 pollution in the capital
will have fallen by 32 percent since 2002, though only 6 percent of
that will have been due to the traffic measures, and Baupin says he
still has many projects planned.