Things were a bit of a mess on line 1 of the Paris metro this weekend with service completely suspended between the Charles de Gaulle-Étoile stop and the western terminus in La Defense. To the RATP's credit, there was plenty of advance notice and plenty of signage plus a replacement shuttle bus, but people being people....well, you can imagine.
Actually, it's been somewhat messy along that stretch of line 1 for a few months as preparations are made to fully automate it by March 2012. It's the most used line in the system, carrying some 725,000 passengers each day, tourists and locals like, as it crosses the city stopping at 25 stations including several points along the Champs-Élysées, the Tuileries, the Louvre, Châtelet (the stop from hell I mentioned in an earlier post), the Marais, Bastille, and points east. Right now, only line 14 is automated and it's the only one that's fully functional during a transit strike. Automation of line 1 thus will save a lot of headaches for everyone, except I suppose the folks who drive the trains.* But more importantly, the automatic trains will move faster than the human-operated variety, with just 85 seconds anticipated between trains during rush hours.
At the moment, there's one automated stop on line 1 and gates have been erected along the platforms at several other stops. Although I may not be here long enough to reap all the rewards, I'd say it's definitely worth the hassle.
*Lest you worry about the drivers losing their posts, rest assured that it's all been worked out with the unions to reassign them once they're no longer needed on line 1.