New metropolitan public transport network in Prague: more flexible, less complicated and cheaper

The 1st September 2012 was a breakthrough for Prague’s and
the surroundings Public Transport System. A project prepared for
several years that brought a lot of changes not only to Prague’s
citizens, but also to our organization ROPID, that planned these

It all started about six years ago, with a study on the efficiency of the transport system. It appeared that while the overall sytem of buses trams and subway was known and used by the population, some routes were over crowded while others were run at half seat capacity. Some parts of Prague were simply not connected in any reasonable way, and sometimes one had to use a car in order to get quickly from point A to point B. Some parts of subway and tram lines were literally bursting at the seams and intervals could not be shorten any more. Something had to be done. The plan for overall simplification and optimization was born. The success of some German cities in reconstructing their networks inspired the project.

2012 – the year of courage
2012 was the turning point : Prague had already enough low-entry buses, main tram
tracks were reconstructed, bus-lanes were opened in the most critical places, the
ratio of articulated buses had increased. The optimization and overall simplification
of the tram and bus networks could thus be drawn and most important it met
the support of Pragues’s establishment. The project was approved in June 2012.

It was all about offering more and better to our passengers. In particular the
border quarters of Prague that had become within the years places to live but
also to work, entertain and go shopping, needed to be better connected. These
new lines would come in exchange for other ones less occupied that had been
designed decades ago never changed and not fitted any more to the emerging
needs of the Prague citizens new lifestyle.

It was also about simplifying the network and make it usable by occasional
passengers. The aim was to attract car drivers for example in helping them to read
the network map for planning a trip : which mode, which line is going where ?
We chose to reduce the number of bus lines and build a backbone network of
buses called ”metrobus” with short intervals guaranteed and weekend services.

Nervosity before the premiere…
Changes were approved by the Prague Council about three weeks before the
launching and gave way to a huge media campaign for information. Medias
were even competing for the most exhaustive detailed information to the point
that it brought some fears that the transport system wouldn’t be ready in time.
At least everybody knew changes were to occur!

The most important media channel was internet (specialized web presentation and
facebook) because it is the one favored by a large majority of our passengers. For
those without internet access, hundreds of thousands of leaflets were distributed
in a variety of places including stations, public buildings and long distance trains.

… but the roll-out went well
On Monday, September 3rd, Prague woke up into a quiet morning, everything
was working fine. All bus- and tram drivers arrived to work and almost no one
got lost. Passengers were suprisingly disciplined and informed. Indeed even the
most optimistics had not expected such a smooth course that lasted also in the
following days. Of course some minor problems emerged that were rapidly
solved but all in all it showed that the new configuration of lines did not affect
the regularity in any significant way.

Among issues to solve, intervals had to be shortened, bus stop had to be moved
or shelter had to be installed in other places. Some new lines, especially thosethat had directly connected border quarters of
the city, were quickly filled and had to be
strengthened. Transport surveys are being
made from the very first day of the changes so
that we can check the setting of all parameters.

What’s next?
Monitoring keeps on going, so that final results
and outcomes can be objectively evaluated after
the whole system settles down, and passengers
find their optimal connections. A large survey on
passengers satisfacion will complete the evaluation.
We hope this ”transport revolution” will bring
more customers and seize less tax-payers money
as was the case in Hamburg or Munich. For the
time being we have to fine-tune the system
and withstand a wave of negative emotions
that is inherently connected to any change of
rooted habits ”says Director Filip Drapal”.

Contact: Filip Drapal

  • Updated : December 12, 2012

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