The two-day EUROCITIES Forum is taking place in Sofia, Bulgaria, under the theme “Funding of Public Transport and New Business Models”. EUROCITIES is the network of major cities in Europe and currently gathers the local governments of over 50 of Europe’s largest cities from across 30 European countries. All of them share knowledge and exchange ideas throughout six forums, including the environment and mobility one; a wide range of working groups, events, EU-funded projects, in which EUROCITIES acts as either coordinator or partner; events; and the EUROCITIES Awards.
The forum is taking place at the Central Military Club in Sofia. Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova opened the event.
“Over the past few years we developed measures to relief vehicular traffic, increase quality of public transport, and reduce harmful emissions.” That is what Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said at the opening of the EUROCITIES Forum in Sofia.
“This is great challenge for our capital city. Recently European mayors met in Paris. The problems are common and we must look for solutions together. A priority for me is to make all investments sustainable. An example is the restriction of parking in the city centre. Sofia is a typical example of big European city,” Fandakova stated and listed the applied measures for improvement of ecological norms in Sofia.
For the last four years we managed to build five two-level cloverstacks. This year we continue our work," Fandakova explained. She said that this year will begin the construction of large junction on Bulgaria Blvd and Ivan Geshov Blvd.
“We managed to renew some 90% of the trolleybuses in Sofia Municipality. We are yet to purchase more 110 new buses and thus by 2016 half of the buses in Sofia will be renewed. We launch the construction of the system for traffic management. The system gives priority to public transport and ambulances. Sofia metro is our fourth measure," Fandakova added.
She noted that in the shortest time it has brought the biggest positive impact. "We haven’t stopped its development. We have 35 km subway network and over 350,000 passengers a day," Yordanka Fandakova added.
“For me it is very important to improve conditions in public transport, as this is a guarantee for people to use less their cars and thus to make the air in Sofia cleaner”. That is what Sofia Mayor Yordanaka Fandakova told journalists.
“Requirement for the construction of parking lots at metro stations became of compulsory character as of 2006. I am sceptical in terms of high penalties,” Mayor Fandakova said.
On petition in Druzhba living district to improve transport service to the metro, Fandakova said that the scheme for land transportation after the launch of the metro was discussed twice with broad public discussion. "There have been changes in land transport as they are now. Even then I announced that we will make temporary organization to assess whether it is effective. I was commissioned to change the routes of land transport, so that any bus or trolley to reaches at least one metro station," Fandakova added.
Around BGN 310 million is allocated for measures to improve air quality through the provision of ecological vehicles for urban transport. That is what Deputy Minister of Environment and Water Pavel Gudzherov said during the EUROCITIES Forum in Sofia.
"The results of our work is easily seen in everyday life as a comfortable, regular and efficient public transport, but other results that might be a little more important, remain a little further away. This as an example is ensuring cleaner air and environment. We supplied 126 buses to the Sofia Municipality, working on compressed natural gas, which reduces emissions up to six times," Gudzherov explained. He pointed out another project which beneficiary is Sofia Municipality - delivered ten metro trains to reduce harmful air emissions by 2.78 tons per year.
"20 new trams reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5,000 tons per year. It is important to ensure the life and health of people. BGN 115 million for the new programming period will be focused on measures to reduce emissions from domestic heating, public transport. Teamwork is the key thing we need," Pavel Gudzherov said.
“Sofia is an example of successful multi-financing,” Minister for Regional Development and Public Works Lilyana Pavlova said during the EUROCITIES Forum.
"After Bulgaria's EU accession the Regional Development OP provided for resource of about BGN 400 million for integrated public transport. When we started to manage, yet we had no vision of how to do this. With the help of the European Commission was created a unit for integrated public transport. Then we build the first pilot projects. As a result of these projects seven big cities have successfully implemented their projects," Pavlova said.
She pointed out that in Bulgaria were built more than 100 kilometres of bicycle trails, depots have been repaired, electronic tables.
"What we envisage for the new programming period is to continue and upgrade the integrated public transport. Each municipality has its own plan for urban development. Bulgarian municipalities have been very active. I am glad that the project of Sofia and Burgas project are given as an example. Bulgaria is one of the successful examples of how to implement the projects," Pavlova added.