Skopje citizens will not feel the convenience of a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT), as the Skopje City Hall refuses to implement the €70 million project, the funds for it already being provisioned through a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The previous leadership of the capital of North Macedonia in October last year announced the international call for tender for the implementation of the first BRT line from Novo Lisiche to Gjorche Petrov, in the length of 12.81 km. This system was envisioned as an alternative, faster and more convenient public transport solution for Skopje, with reserved lanes on Skopje boulevards.
The new, 18-metre-long eco-friendly buses were to be purchased, and 21 bus stops were envisioned along the entire route, as well as 2 terminals in Gjorche Petrov and Novo Lisiche. The projections were that with the implementation of BRT, the travel time between the two end points would be halved – from the current 70 minutes to 35 minutes.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications told Meta.mk that the Skopje City Hall, headed by the Mayor Danela Arsovska, refused to implement the project for rapid bus transport in Skopje, the reasons being unbeknownst, as the City Hall did not provide an explanation why it refused to introduce a new transit system that would reduce the crowds around the city.
“The funds provided in the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ budget were withdrawn with the rebalancing of the budget MPs voted in the Parliament. It is still unclear why the City of Skopje has refused the irreversible funds of €70 million from the government for a project that would mean a fast, safe and more economical transport system for the citizens of Skopje,“ the Ministry of Transport and Communications explains.
Meta.mk asked the Skopje City Hall the past Friday about the implementation of the Rapid Bus Transit System, but until Wednesday we have not received answers to the questions. Among other things, we asked the city authorities what was agreed in the negotiations with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Mayor Arsovska informing about them in June this year.
Mayor Arsovska said in a press statement in June this year that negotiations are being held and when they are como;eted, she will inform the public. She did not reveal the subject of the negotiations and whether she will continue with the project for the first BRT line in Skopje.
“We are continuosly acting to support the interests of the citizens and to reform the bus system and the public transport in Skopje. At this point we holding negotiations, and, at the first moment when we have something to announce to the public, we will do it,“ Arsovska said when answering a journalist’s question in June.
Meta.mk also asked if and when the planned referendum announced by the Mayor will be held, as announced by Ms Arsovska soon after she took the office at the end of last year, when the citizens of Skopje would opt out on thee implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit System. We did not get an answer to that question, as well.
Otherwise, after the international tender was announced in October, not much later, on the 14th of December 2021, the first phase of the tender procedure for the implementation of the first line of BRT – from Novo Lisiche to Gjorche Petrov – was completed. The tender procedure posted on the EBRD website envisaged that interested companies for participation in the tender would submit their pre-qualification offers to the City of Skopje.
The City of Skopje in December last year reported that the tender procedure was halted and therefore no offers were received from the companies which expressed interes.
The tender followed the signing of the agreement with the European bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in April 2021 for taking a loan of 70 million euros for the construction of the two BRT lines in Skopje. The BRT project was reviewed and positively assessed by EBRD, and the loan from EBRD has been approved by the MPs in the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia.