Paris makes public transport free for third day to tackle air pollution

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PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 07: The Eiffel Tower and the business district of La Defense surrounded by high levels of air pollution are seen at sunset on December 07, 2016 in Paris, France. The Paris region has experienced the longest and most intense 'winter' pollution spike in ten years, according to Airparif (Ile-de-France Air Quality Monitoring Association). For the third consecutive day the alternating circulation in Paris was carried back to Paris announced the prefecture of police. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 07: The Eiffel Tower and the business district of La Defense surrounded by high levels of air pollution are seen at sunset on December 07, 2016 in Paris, France. The Paris region has experienced the longest and most intense 'winter' pollution spike in ten years, according to Airparif (Ile-de-France Air Quality Monitoring Association). For the third consecutive day the alternating circulation in Paris was carried back to Paris announced the prefecture of police. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
Cars drive on the Peripherique in Paris on December 8, 2016 as city authorities announced traffic restrictions would be extended to December 8, with a ban imposed on private cars with registration plates ending in even numbers. Paris was smothered on December 7 by its worst winter pollution in a decade, with commuters enjoying free public transport and half of all cars ordered off the road to try to clear the air. / AFP / JACQUES DEMARTHON (Photo credit should read JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 07: The Eiffel Tower and the business district of La Defense surrounded by high levels of air pollution are seen at sunset on December 07, 2016 in Paris, France. The Paris region has experienced the longest and most intense 'winter' pollution spike in ten years, according to Airparif (Ile-de-France Air Quality Monitoring Association). For the third consecutive day the alternating circulation in Paris was carried back to Paris announced the prefecture of police. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 07: The Sacre-Coeur basilica surrounded by high levels of air pollution is seen at sunset on December 07, 2016 in Paris, France. The Paris region has experienced the longest and most intense 'winter' pollution spike in ten years, according to Airparif (Ile-de-France Air Quality Monitoring Association). For the third consecutive day the alternating circulation in Paris was carried back to Paris announced the prefecture of police. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
Water vapour billows from smokestacks at the incineration plant of Ivry-sur-Seine, near Paris, France at sunrise, France, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
A small-particle haze hangs above the Eiffel Tower, that is seen on the horizon from Suresnes, near Paris, France, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
The sun rises behind a tree as a small-particle haze hangs in the sky above the Paris region in France, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
A French policewoman stands in the street as she verifies automobile registration plates as authorities imposed alternate vehicle circulation days to reduce car traffic and pollution in Paris, France, December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 08: The Eiffel Tower surrounded by high levels of air pollution is seen on December 08, 2016 in Paris, France. The Paris region has experienced the longest and most intense 'winter' pollution spike in ten years, according to Airparif (Ile-de-France Air Quality Monitoring Association). Alternate traffic will be renewed on December 09. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 08: The Eiffel Tower surrounded by high levels of air pollution is seen on December 08, 2016 in Paris, France. The Paris region has experienced the longest and most intense 'winter' pollution spike in ten years, according to Airparif (Ile-de-France Air Quality Monitoring Association). Alternate traffic will be renewed on December 09. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 08: A cyclist with a mask of protection against pollution during high levels of air pollution is seen on December 08, 2016 in Paris, France. The Paris region has experienced the longest and most intense 'winter' pollution spike in ten years, according to Airparif (Ile-de-France Air Quality Monitoring Association). Alternate traffic will be renewed on December 09. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
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For the third consecutive day, Paris authorities have announced a ban on half of the cars entering the city centre and have made public transportation free as the city struggles with exceptionally high levels of smog.

Similar measures to tackle air pollution will also be introduced for the first time in the cities of Lyon and Villeurbanne.

Only vehicles with an even-numbered plate and carpooling services are allowed to drive in Paris centre and in 22 communes in the inner suburbs. Anyone disobeying this rule will be fined €35 ($38), with 1,700 fineshanded out on the first day alone.

Airparif, the observatory of air quality in the Île-de-France region, said the pollution index reached 91 micrograms per cubic meter on Wednesday and is expected to slightly decrease to 89 on Thursday — still way higher than the warning level of 80.

This is the fourth time in 20 years that alternating traffic patterns have been introduced in the capital, but the first time they've been held for several days.

The ban was not respected by many drivers Wednesday, while disruption in transportation services added to confusion.

To tackle the crisis, Paris' Velib bike-share and Autolib electric cars will again be free Thursday, as well as the Paris metro and bus services.

Airparif says the peak is due to the accumulation of pollutants because of anticyclonic conditions.

The situation poses a significant risk to residents' health, according to Paris City Hall.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has pledged, along with three other major cities, to ban all diesel cars by 2025.

"Today, we also stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes – particularly for our most vulnerable citizens," she announced. "Big problems like air pollution require bold action, and we call on car and bus manufacturers to join us.

See earlier news on the transportation change:

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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