Una storia di IvanBerardi

Questa storia è presente nel magazine Un anno a Gerardmer / A year in Gerardmer

On the warpath


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5 minuti

Pubblicato il 31 ottobre 2019 in Viaggi


So, warpath...hardly. Let's say instead that I'm fighting a battle against the windmills, maybe it's because I have recently come back from Spain, but I'm feeling very Don Quixote at the moment.

Perhaps it's nothing, but like the infamous stone in the shoe ... it gives a lot of pain!

And then, to think again jobs may depend on it.

Let me explain.

If you want or need to get to Gerardmer by public transport, various bus lines connect the town with northern France (including two high-speed train stations just 20 minutes by bus from here). If you come instead from the south (Italy, Switzerland, part of Germany and France), only one line connects the town of Munster on the Alsatian side of the Vosges with us on the Lorraine side: the 1B.

We knew this line existed because, two years ago, with a quick online search it was immediately highlighted by all the search engines and various international sites, such as Rome2Rio, which give updated information on public transport in any part of the world.

So it was with great surprise, and some concern, that looking for an updated timetable, before embarking on the journey that would see us spend a year in Gerardmer, I realized that line 1B had disappeared. Panic!

But how? I wondered with a puzzled yet intelligent expression.

Thanks to the fact that the journey had been planned for some time, I decided to devote myself to a systematic search of the missing line. Digging in the files I had downloaded before, I managed to find the timetable for the line 1B and it confirmed that it should have been still running.

But then why had it disappeared from all the sites?

In the end I found the answer: human error.

The "Grand Est" (our region) public transport site has recently been updated. If on search the route Munster - Gerardmer or vice versa, the result suggests a journey of 4 hours and 40 minutes with 4 different buses via Strasburgo (instead of the correct 35 minutes direct and beautifully panoramic journey).

If, on the other hand, one searches directly for line 1B, this shows up correctly as a link between Munster, Gerardmer and Remiremont. Here, however, comes the first issue: one must already be aware that the 1B line exists, in order to look for it.

But that's not all.

If one clicks on the line link, only the route between Gerardmer and Remiremont appears, which means that someone has forgotten to load half of the route on the public transport web site. Consequently, as far as national and international search engines are concerned, the line 1B does not exist anymore.

I know, I know: only those who have a natural affinity with time tables can understand how I felt in that moment. Perhaps this morbid interest says more about me than the local transport system ...

But beyond the obvious insignificance of the problem there are real consequences.

It's been a month and a half since I got in touch with those who run this site; using my made up French ( obviously I can make up many languages...) I made myself understood. First they told me it was me who didn't know how to use it (sorry?), Then, when I insisted, they admitted that there was actually a technical problem and that they would pass the information to the IT team.

After a fortnight, during which nothing happened, I went to the Gerardmer tourist office. Obviously they were not aware of the problem, but they told me that they would urge the transport company to put the site in order.

Yet, the 1B line still remains (31.10.19) suspended in cyberspace.

And here we go back to the starting point: when Mark and I take this bus there are at most three people on board, including us. The bus, in winter, makes only two return trips a day. If it goes on like this I am not sure how long this line will remain open. I think of those who drive these buses, what will happen to their jobs? The fact that there is no online trace to its existence certainly does not improve things.

It was thanks to this line that, two years ago, we decided that we could come on holiday to this town that we currently call home. Who knows how many other people who might want to use public transport, don't come to Gerardmer because they are unaware of the existence of this option?

I believe in the importance of public transport and its presence on the territory as an alternative cars. I am not a hypocrite and I know well that if we decide to live here for good, we will need to buy a car: but at the same time I hope that when we will find ourselves with a valid alternative we will still choose to integrate public transport into our everyday life.
Here, I said it!
Now I'm going to write to the mayor, we are friends on Facebook anyway!
Meanwhile, some photos taken last Saturday. We got on the 1B (just us two and the conductor!) We went up to the Col de la Schlucht, we like to call it De la Slut... I know... from there we followed the path Des Roches which is a via ferrata overhanging the gorgeous Munster valley, nothing compared to the path Donini in Molveno, Italy, which , stupidly, we undertook a January some years ago - it covered in ice us wearing dancing shoes *. After the circuit of the Roches we returned to the Col de la Schlucht and from there reached the panoramic pasture of Balveurche, then, passing by Le Valtin we returned home exhausted.

* Poetic license!

Path des Roches
Path des Roches
Col de la Schlucht and Balveurche
Col de la Schlucht and Balveurche

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