Lyon’s Rhônexpress Airport Shuttle Soon to Be Cheaper?

Published: 2019/04/17
Lyon Metropole has announced its intention to renegotiate the contract for the Lyon airport shuttle in order to lower the prices and open the link between Lyon and Saint-Exupéry airport to competition. Since its launch in 2010, the Rhônexpress has transported 10 million passengers, but it remains highly criticised for its monopoly and elevated prices. 


Will the cost of Rhônexpress tickets lower? On 12th April 2019, Lyon Metropole and Sytral, the organising authority for transport, announced the beginning of negotiations with the consortium Vinci-Transdev running the tramway linking Part-Dieu and Saint-Exupéry airport.

Rhonexpress Airport shuttle in Lyon

Rhonexpress Airport shuttle in Lyon Part-Dieu station © F. Crouzet


Rhônexpress criticised for its high prices and monopoly

Since its opening in 2010, the Rhônexpress has been consistently criticised for its high prices (from 19.80€ to 27.80€ round trip). Petitions demanding a reduction in the price of tickets have been circulated.
To the benefit of Vinci  (the current owner of the airport), the Rhônexpress is in a situation of a monopoly.
The contract signed in 2007 between Vinci and the general council of Rhône forbids alternative routes between the airport and city for a duration of 28 years. No TCL bus line serves the airport.
The Rhônexpress uses some of the T3 tram lines (Part-Dieu – Meyzieu) which sometimes disturbs traffic.

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Examining all legal options

For Lyon Metropole, the objective of the renegotiation is to:

  • improve the service in the East of Lyon to benefit users of the T3 tramway line which is currently packed
  • create alternatives to the Rhônexpress to allow for competition 
  • do away with the current expensive tariffs.”

A first meeting between the Metropole, Sytral and Vinci is planned for 30th April 2019. The Metropole is hoping to come to an agreement before the end of 2019.

“If an agreement can’t be made before this date, Sytral and Lyon Metropole will examine all the legal options, perhaps even the termination of the contract,” the Metropole council indicated.

Rhonexpress and tramway in Lyon

Rhonexpress shuttle and a TCL tramway in Lyon Part-Dieu © F. Crouzet


More than 1.5 million passengers travelled with Rhônexpress in 2018

However, the Rhônexpress justifies its prices with what it deems as the wealth of the service it provides.

“Our counterparts in Europe, that is to say airport express lines linking cities and airports with a high level of service (speed, reliability, safety, frequency, comfort), offer prices largely more expensive than those of the Rhônexpress,” a spokesperson said to This Is Lyon last year.

In 2018, more than 1.5 million passengers travelled with Rhônexpress, an increase of 8.6% from 2017. 10 million people have used the service since its launch in 2010.