Revitalising public transport in Varna
Sustainable development and energy conservation are on everybody's lips these days, one aspect in realising these aims is to shift people towards public transport. But for this shift to occur, public transport has to be able to meet the demands placed upon it. By upgrading the urban transport system, the city of Varna is addressing the need for a fast, effective and accessible transport system for all.
The city of Varna in Bulgaria is the largest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and the eleventh largest city in the Balkans. With a growing economy and an important tourist sector the city wants to reduce the number of polluting vehicles, reduce its dependence on imported oil, as well as utilise unused electricity generated in the country.
Positive environmental impact
While the city of Varna was trying to promote sustainability and public transport it was witnessing a shift from public transport to private cars. The reason was largely due to an ageing bus and trolleybus fleet, low operational speed, expensive fare system, poor service quality, lack of adequate information for passengers, high operational cost and minimal length of dedicated public urban transport lanes.
To rectify this situation the city embarked on this project of a modern and sustainable transport system. The project also aims at making the city greener. The new integrated urban transport should lead to the use of alternative means of transport like trolleybus, tram, and other types of public transport, but also includes the construction of cycling lanes.
Cleaner transport and alternate modes of transport
The project successfully aims at addressing the growing necessity for fast, effective, accessible and convenient urban transport through the construction of a bus rapid transit (BRT) line connecting the most distant densely populated areas with the administrative centre. The introduction of the BRT corridor combined with the introduction of 30 articulated diesel buses, 20 single-body diesel buses (all of which operate on the clean diesel EURO 6 standard) and 20 single-body compressed natural gas (CNG) buses will help to reduce air pollution, congestion and traffic accidents in the city.
The project also involves the introduction of an integrated ticketing system following the needs of different social groups and the overall improvement of accessibility for disadvantaged groups.
While there is significant emphasis on public transport as outlined above as well as upgrading bus terminals and depot, other clean modes of transport are also included. The city is also implementing a cycling strategy which will include the creation of new cycling paths, parking facilities, a cycling campaign and a bike rental scheme.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “Varna Integrated Urban Transport Project” is EUR 58 511 443, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 39 548 354 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. The project is funded through the priority “Sustainable and Integrated Urban Development” of the Operational Programme “Regional Development”.