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In 2020, there were 40,523,000 passengers in the urban and intercity public transportation in North Macedonia, show the data provided by the State Statistical Office. It’s the historically lowest number of transferred passengers with public transportation throughout the municipalities nationwide and the COVID pandemic is behind this drop in numbers.

Compared to 2019, the number of passengers using the urban and intercity public transportation, on national level dropped by over 31 million passengers, taking into account the fact that the year before the pandemic 72,040,000 passengers were transferred with public transportation.

In 2020, 22,781,000 passengers used the urban public transportation, while 17.742.000 passengers have used intercity public transportation.

The city with the biggest drop of numbers is the capital Skopje,  where the number of passengers who were transported with the public bus transport in 2020 was around 27.7 million passengers or 30 million passengers less compared to 2019. The situation in other towns and cities around the country is identical as in the capital where the measures for limiting the busses’ capacities, the long curfews last spring, the online studying for pupils and students, including the fear of infection that was present among the people, have caused the buses running the urban and rural lines, but also intercity lines in other Macedonian cities to run half-empty.

Meta.mk had already informed that the lowereuse of public transportation can cause a permanent loss of passengers using public transportation even after the COVID pandemic ends, since some of the people who had to travel during the COVID crisis have changed their traveling habits (shared transportation, riding a bicycle, car purchase, walking, etc.).

The local authorities should think of ways of how to instigate the people to return to their old habits, which means the majority of their travels to be made by using urban or intercity buses.

The only positive announcement is coming from Tetovo and Bitola. The public transportation in Tetovo should start  after five new city buses were purchased and a public enterprise was formed for this purpose only. Also, in February even the municipality of Bitola decided to form a joint public enterprise together with municipalities Mogila and Novaci, which will contribute to performing better suburban transportation through the acquisition of four mini-busses that should arrive in spring and autumn.