Additional and free bus lines for residents of Milanówek.
At the beginning of 2017, the Polish railway infrastructure manager (PKP PLK) began reconstruction of the railway line running through Milanówek. The railway station with the main underpass was closed for over one year. The connection with Warsaw and the internal connections between two parts of the town were difficult. Elderly residents were not able to cover the distance of the alternative connections (the overpass and the footbridges) to get to the other side of the town. As the traffic on the overpass increased, the safety of pedestrians and cyclists suffered. For the time of the reconstruction, a replacement bus service was provided by the railway infrastructure manager, but it wasn’t as effective as trains – buses were crowded and the trip to Warsaw lasted about 1.5 hour (more than traveling by car).
The city authorities were aware that there was a need to provide alternative connections. The long-term construction work caused a risk of change in transport habits of the residents that would be hard to reverse. The local authorities decided to expand the internal bus lines network by launching two additional fare-free bus lines.
Line C allowed residents to get to public buildings located in the 2nd part of the town. Line D allowed direct access to the railway station in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, from where the residents could directly get to a capital. The D line shortened travel time to Warsaw by 60 minutes in relation to the bus replacement communication provided by PKP.
1.5 year of fare-free bus service cost about 67,000€. Additional bus service was contracted with the current bus operator, operating also the two regular internal lines (A and B) in Milanówek.
Line D (09.2017-09.2018)
Line C (05.2017-ongoing)
Line C is adapted to the needs of residents.
Evidence of success
The launching of additional bus lines improved the quality of everyday life of residents, in particular, the elderly people, the disabled and the children. It was a chance to restrain the increase of car usage by enabling residents to reach most public buildings and to connect with Grodzisk Mazowiecki, from where trains regularly departed to the capital of Poland.
On average, the buses run at half-capacity. During 1.5 year the number of passengers of fare-free city lines is estimated at 66.200.
The main challenges for the local authorities included: specific road network in Milanówek, consisting of very narrow streets, which made it impossible to use large buses; limited budget of the Town Council; high expectations of residents – everyone wanted to have a bus stop nearby; legal issues.
Potential for learning or transfer
In fact, this solution is very suitable and effective for small towns or neighbourhoods, served by high-quality railway or bus service connecting them with the main cities of the agglomeration. It may be useful also for cities divided by natural or artificial barriers (i. e. rivers, railways, highways, hills, etc.). What is noteworthy, the railway construction in this case was not seen only as a threat, but also as an opportunity to improve the public transport system. Because of a small area of the town, the existing regular bus service was used mostly by elderly passengers on optional journeys. Additional bus lines, supplementing public transport system during the railway construction, for many residents created the first opportunity to test (for free) buses on everyday journeys, which resulted in the increase acceptance of local public transport.
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