Published on 30 July 2021
About this good practice
The local authorities of the SAŠA region, have been working for many years to meet the sustainable needs and the environmental requirements of the nearest future. Free bus transport was introduced in 2008, as a mechanism of free passenger transport for the citizens of the City Municipality of Velenje. It soon grew into an even bigger interregional passenger transport, which now covers 6 frequent passenger routes, at which the buses turn on a 30-minute interval. Transportation is organized to cover all major entrances to the city, major businesses, industrial zones, shopping malls as well as the city park and even the cemetery. For thirteen years, public bus traffic has been completely free, passengers do not even need a membership card. The local authorities (together with their stakeholders) are already finalizing the new investment, with which the existing buses will be replaced by hydrogen fuel cell buses to make the regional mobility even more sustainable. Hydrogen for the busses, is meant to be produced on the compound of the Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant with its cogeneration and with the help of an auxiliary electrolyser. In addition, a "Bicy" cycling system has been set up in the region for sustainable purposes, with which you can ride your bike for free anywhere in the area. Only membership card is required. For the transport of the elderly and the disabled, free transport with the municipal electric vehicle "Kamerat" is available, daily, and everywhere in the valley.
The annual cost of maintaining a free public transport is a little less than € 1 million a year. The "Bicy" cycling system is managed by the Public office for tourism of the Šaleška valley and spends a little more than € 20,000 a year on the station’s infrastructure, maintenance and equipment.
Evidence of success
Although the number of the passengers could be more significant, the valley’s public transport shows excellent results. Public transport is well received among the local citizens. The "Bicy" cycling system is also widely used. Around the city, local authorities have also set up digital bicycle traffic meters, which count daily, annual, and total traffic on various routes, thus convincing people even more, to use the means of the sustainable transport on a daily basis.
Potential for learning or transfer
Sustainable mobility is becoming an increasing necessity as we are slowly becoming a low-carbon society. All major European cities are following up the trend of sustainable development. City centres are being closed to traffic, local authorities are setting up bicycle systems and energy-efficient public transport is being recommended. Due to the local low-priced energy production and great endeavour of the local authorities, the inhabitants of the SAŠA region still prosper from free public transport. Many citizens are being relived of high transport costs, due due to its economity and usability. It is also being contributed to the decarbonisation of society, environmental protection, and to the minor pollution. The need for the new road and parking infrastructure is also becoming less significant.