On the 26th of May this year an international conference “Small cities’ metropolitans: their implementation reasons and benefits” has been organised by citizens’ association “Metro Sąjūdis” together with the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and Vilnius’ municipality. During the conference transport development provisions were introduced, which had been established in the European Commission’s White Book “Transport 2050”. Moreover, foreign countries’ experience in modernising public transport and implementing metropolitan were analysed.
According to Vilnius’ mayor Artūras Zuokas, up-to-date city has to have the only one priority – public transport. It is more important than road, car parking and infrastructure development. Everything can be done in cities and there is nothing impossible nowadays. Therefore, Vilnius does need a compromise – it needs only the best solution.
UITP Eurasian and Turkey’s regions director Constantin Dellis has stressed that city’s transport politics strategy has also been added to the European Commission’s White Book. Now everyone agrees that it is necessary start making changes, i.e. develop fast, ecological and efficient urban transport systems. It is believed that it will encourage European cities public transport optimisation.
European Parliament’s member Zigmantas Balčytis has stated that the provisions established in the European Commission’s White Book should be started implementing by the EU countries during the next 10 years in order to reach the goals. According to the European Commission, there should be no transport ridden by oil products. For this aim EU has planned to give financial support only for those cities, which municipality and society will already have taken their decisions and prepared the relevant documentation.
Ministry‘s of Transport Communications of the Republic of Lithuania development and innovations department manager Gražvydas Jakubauskas thinks that ecological goals should not dwarf mobility in the streets. Therefore, there must be alternatives to private transport restrictions. Public transport has to be more popular, attractive and environmentally friendly. Ministry of Transport Communications is ready to help to Vilnius in resolving the transportation problems, however, firstly, the municipality has to make the necessary decisions.
Metro idea’s support Parliamentary group’s leader Paulius Saudargas admits that in order to reach the goals of European Commission’s White Book, it is necessary to change Vilnius’ public transport system. Parliamentary group will shortly initiate an overview of city’s transport politics in the “Government’s hour”. The overview will have to be introduced to the European Transport Ministers on the 16th of June this year.
According to “Metro Sąjūdis“ administrative president Juozas Zykus it is obvious that it is time for Vilnius to change its transport system and think of alternatives to the planned restrictions to the private transport. Fast, punctual, safe, comfortable, prestigious, economically effective public transport is city’s drive. Metro has all these features. Appreciating the current economical situation in Vilnius and adapting the Public and Private Partnership (PPP) it implies that a metropolitan would be the best solution. The city should not pay for the project from its own budget: the project would be financed by development banks and responsibility for construction and maintenance would go to private investors. J. Zykus proposed that metro maintenance costs would not be high, the project would be completed rapidly and effectively and, after the construction is finished, the metropolitan would be transferred to the city. However, in order to get financial support from the EU, the metro project has to be acknowledged of national importance.
Tiltra Group AB Concessions department manager Vitoldas Sapožnikovas confirmed that modern public transport development projects will be realised in Lithuania only when the PPP will be used. There were different PPP models presented which could be used for the railways development: fixed payments, availability payments, shadow toll and concession. A few European cities overviews:
For the Caen (France) metro project fixed payment and construction grant PPP model has been adopted. This model costs the least for the country and gives the biggest benefit, because for the construction grant cheap finance could be got from the structural funds and after careful calculations the project would bring profit and the city would be richer.
For the Nottingham (United Kingdom) the availability payment method has been chosen. In this case Nottingham has covered 70-80 percent of construction costs throughout 35 years, while the rest 20-30 percent were got from passenger rides.
Barcelona (Spain) project – for one part of the metro lines the shadow toll financing model has been used. The concessionaire has to make sure that number of passengers increases as it get bigger subsidy.
TP Ferro (Spain) a train line has been created using concession. Concessionaire has been given a right to build and use the line for 50 years. Concessionaire gets profit from consignments and passengers.
It has been stressed that concession projects are very attractive for financial institutions as these projects are known for not having anything illegal happening, which is guaranteed, because additional financial, juridical, technical projects’ audits are being done in order not to do something wrong and both, an investor and a country, would be happy.
Nurnberg transport corporation company’s manager Wolfgang Legath claimed that cultural heritage has been saved after the metro had been implemented and Nurnberg has become even cosier, cleaner and safer even though the discussions, whether or not to build the metropolitan, took 35 years. There had been arguments against building the metro in the downtown, however, in a referendum the metro has won. It was decided to build the metro in 1965. Effective exploitation encouraged to build a new line in 1994. The investment has paid of 5 times and even 80 percent of inhabitants appreciate the metro positively. In 2008 a driverless train has been started using.
Copenhagen Metro service director Claudio Cassarino proudly announced that Copenhagen Metro was awarded as the best driverless metro in 2008 and 2010. Copenhagen is the first European city which has its metro running 24/7. The metropolitan started working in 2002 and so it is quite young system having 2 lines of 21 km with 22 stations of which 9 are underground. In 2010 the yearly ridership reached 52 million and it is planned that this number will increase up to 60 million by 2015. More than 90 percent of Copenhagen inhabitants evaluate the metro positively and, therefore, by 2018 it is planned to construct another line 11 km long.
A guest from Bilbao (Spain) Jose Miquel Ortega emphasised the increasing popularity of Bilbao metro. At the beginning in 1996 yearly ridership was 32 million. In 2010 this number has increased up to 88 million. Careful analysis of city’s mobility showed that metropolitan is the best solution. Doing the same analysis was suggested to Vilnius.
Vilniaus Gedimino Technical University professor Jonas Anuškevičius disagreed to specialists who are preparing new public transport concept and are pretending having better situation than in most Europe’s cities. Recently, Vilnius has been expanding mostly to the west, so even sceptics shortly will need to admit Vilnius-Kaunas double city with the population of more than one million. The traffic in the highway Klaipėda-Kaunas-Vilnius is getting heavier and heavier and, when it reaches Vilnius, it jams all the Vilnius’ streets, which capacity parameters are already exceeded. Implementing only street traffic systems, which includes tramways, transportation problems will not be solved and separate areas development will not be possible. As a result, it is necessary to implement railway system – metropolitan.
Vilniaus Gedimino Technical University professor Jurgis Vanagas is certain that the need of metropolitan is dictated not only by Vilnius city’s itself but the whole country’s territorial planning. Vilnius is in an eccentric geographical area comparing with the rest of Lithuania. According to the Republic of Lithuania confirmed general plan, the most reasonable Lithuania’s urbanisation should take place forming a double city connecting Vilnius and Kaunas. The metropolitan would be an advantage in this case as the first line connects the Pilaitė with the White bridge. The double city with a population of over a million could pretend to a Euro City recognition.
Vilnius vice mayor Romas Adomavičius summarised the conference and emphasised that the information got during the conference will be used in order to decide which transport system will be used in the next 30 years.