RIGA - An agreement has been reached on organizing public transport services within a single network of routes, says Latvia’s Transport Ministry, reports Nozare.lv. The Road Transport Administration will be responsible for organizing tenders for intercity public transport and signing contracts with transport companies.
The agreement was reached during a meeting of the inter-ministerial task force that was attended by representatives from the Transport Ministry, Finance Ministry, Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry, Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, Latvian Passenger Transport Association and Road Transport Administration. The meeting participants agreed that the most efficient way to tackle problems with the administration of public transport services would be to organize a single network of transport routes with single administration.
The concept envisages development of a unified public transport network (bus and train routes) in the country. A Public Transport Council will be established that will offer recommendations for the development and administration of the network to the Road Transport Administration. The council will include members of the Transport Ministry, Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry and Road Transport Administration.
The Road Transport Administration will be the institution that will sign contracts on public transport services in the regions.
This model will ensure the development of a unified and cost-effective network of regional public transport routes, emphasizes the Transport Ministry. Regional public transport volumes will be balanced with the funding available from the state budget, the administrative procedure will become more efficient, and the procedure of public transport planning, organization and supervision will be unified, ensuring the protection of interests of all residents in the regions.
A debt of 818,000 lats to regional public transport companies, run up in 2012, was also discussed at the meeting. In order to compensate for this amount, the Public Transport Services Law will have to be amended.
The Association of Local and Regional Governments’ representative Aino Salmins said that several problems still remained that would have to be solved so the new concept could be introduced. First of all, the Transport Ministry must present an analysis proving that the new concept is better than the current system. Second, there are certain problems regarding the legal status of the Road Transport Administration, which is a limited liability company and, therefore, it currently cannot plan and distribute budget funds. Local governments also want the Public Transport Council to have more powers than currently planned.
Regional public transport companies previously announced in an open letter to Transport Minister Anrijs Matiss that the state had still not compensated transport companies’ losses accumulated in 2012, and that no talks were taking place on the problem.