PARIS (Reuters) - Paris's main transport operator (RATP) is doubling its hiring numbers this year as the French capital's public transport system is getting ready to be put to the test during the Olympics.
While public transport traffic usually goes 30% down in August in Paris, RATP is expecting the decline to be softened up by a visitors' increase of about 15% due to the July 26-Aug. 11 Games.
RATP will also need to compensate the lack of personnel during a traditional holiday time.
"During the Games we expect traffic to be equivalent to what it is in October," RATP spokesman Jimmy Brun told Reuters on Friday on a busy morning at the Chatelet-Les Halles central hub.
"We will have 19,000 agents mobilised, as well as 3,000 volunteers to help regulate the traffic of passengers. We've been doubling the number of people we hire this year.
"It represents the hiring of 4,900 people."
The comments came after Transport minister Clement Beaune said "there are problems with our public transport system today, Olympic Games or no Olympic Games. You'd have to be blind or deaf not to see it and not to say so".
RATP has also been working on accessibility on a 123-year-old network, looking to make 14% of the metro stations accessible to wheelchair users in 2024 - compared to the current 9%.
"We are also working on accessibility for people with a visual deficiency, with Braille plates on the ramps of the metro's lines 9 and 10, which will be especially busy during the Olympics," said Brun.
Paris has faced criticism over expected public transport problems during the Olympics and the doubling of the metro ticket's price.
The mayor of Paris warned last month that public transport services, which are provided by the regional authority, would be insufficient during the events.
The Paris region head, Valerie Pecresse, said a single journey metro ticket will cost 4 euros ($4.38) for the period from July 20 to Sept. 8, adding that residents of the region with a usual monthly or yearly pass would not be affected.
A monthly pass normally costs 84.10 euros, while single journeys currently costs 2.10 euros.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)