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RATB’s projects for sustainable development

Posted: 15 December 2010 | Adrian Criţ, General Manager, RATB | No comments yet

We all know that providing mobility in a capital city implies high energy consumption, which has negative effects on the quality of the environment. Therefore, the current European transport strategies promote alternatives to private cars, such as public transport vehicles, walking and cycling.

In this respect, RATB has focused on increasing the attractiveness of public transport services trying to maintain a fare offer that includes facilities for different social categories. At the same time, our company continued the process of renewing its vehicle fleet. Thus, we purchased and manufactured vehicles equipped with mobility-impaired access facilities, on-board audio/video passenger information systems, etc. and we adapted the infrastructure to ensure ease of access for public transport users.

We all know that providing mobility in a capital city implies high energy consumption, which has negative effects on the quality of the environment. Therefore, the current European transport strategies promote alternatives to private cars, such as public transport vehicles, walking and cycling.In this respect, RATB has focused on increasing the attractiveness of public transport services trying to maintain a fare offer that includes facilities for different social categories. At the same time, our company continued the process of renewing its vehicle fleet. Thus, we purchased and manufactured vehicles equipped with mobility-impaired access facilities, on-board audio/video passenger information systems, etc. and we adapted the infrastructure to ensure ease of access for public transport users.

We all know that providing mobility in a capital city implies high energy consumption, which has negative effects on the quality of the environment. Therefore, the current European transport strategies promote alternatives to private cars, such as public transport vehicles, walking and cycling.

In this respect, RATB has focused on increasing the attractiveness of public transport services trying to maintain a fare offer that includes facilities for different social categories. At the same time, our company continued the process of renewing its vehicle fleet. Thus, we purchased and manufactured vehicles equipped with mobility-impaired access facilities, on-board audio/video passenger information systems, etc. and we adapted the infrastructure to ensure ease of access for public transport users.

An attractive public transport service is necessary both for a sustainable development of the city and for changing the travel habits of Bucharest’s inhabitants, who will be much more motivated to give up travelling by private cars.

Renewal of our operating fleet

According to the principles of sustainable development, our public procurement policy is based on energy saving, and all acquisitions of goods, services and works must comply with the environment protection criteria.

Therefore, during 2011 and 2013, RATB will purchase 300 modern buses equipped with Euro V engines, low floor, mobility impaired access facilities, GPS systems, on-board diagnostic systems, route displays, door surveillance systems and passenger counting systems.

Taking into consideration the tendency to modernise public transport by using an environmentally-friendly transport system, in compliance with the EC Directive 33/2009, by the end of 2010 RATB will purchase another 150 trolleybuses. Since trolleybuses have many advantages such as low pollution levels, energy independence from fossil fuels, relatively low infrastructure investments, we will extend the trolleybus network on Calea Văcăreşti, Bd. Tineretului, Bd. Dimitrie Cantemir, from Sudului Square to Unirii Square, and the new extension has a length of 10.8km single way.

Modernisation of our Repair Plant

One of the objectives included in our investment programme for 2011-2013 is the modernisation of our Repair Plant. This is the most important location where we carry out maintenance and repair activities for the entire RATB vehicle fleet.

Within this division we also perform vehicle modernisation works, and we manufacture and restore spare parts and equipment.

This division has almost a century of experience in the repair, restoring and modernisation activities for urban and utility transport vehicles. In the Repair Plant, our specialists manufactured and modernised many vehicles: V3A trams, V2A trams, the Bucur low floor tram, different types of utility wagons, etc. In the 1980s, the Repair Plant produced 200 V3A trams for several public transport companies in the country.

So far, we have modernised 369 V3A tramcars, and by the end of 2010 we will modernise another six. This will be the end of the rehabilitation process of the 375 V3A tramcars, which started in 1993. At the same time, by the end of 2010, we will manufacture 4 Bucur LF tramcars. The Bucur low floor model was designed and manufactured exclusively in our own plant and it provides increased comfort for passengers due to its partially low floor and access facilities for the mobility impaired. These trams will lead to more efficient public transport services due to higher transport speed and passenger comfort, lower costs and consequently higher revenues.

At the same time, lower power supply consumption and maintenance expenditure will have a direct influence on the general expenditures, which will also be reduced.

The modernisation works carried out in our Repair Plant will include construction works in the halls, replacement of installations, rehabilitation of waste water evacuation systems in compliance with environment protection norms, modernisation of the medium voltage power supply system, rehabilitation of the tram lines providing access to the repair plant and software integration with the systems used in other RATB divisions.

Our tram modernisation and manufacture programme has the following objectives:

» Reduction of operational and maintenance expenditure

» Improvement of passenger comfort

» Higher transport capacity

» Modern on-board equipment for our trams.

After the modernisation process, our Repair Plant will be not only a division in which we carry out repairs and modernisation works, but also a place in which we manufacture trams. We are confident that we will have real possibilities both to provide the trams we need for our fleet and also to export trams on other markets.

Thus, RATB’s 70-year-tradition in tram manufacture will continue and this will have a direct contribution to the modernisation of rail public transportation in Bucharest, with both economic and financial advantages. According to our medium-term strategy, over 12 years we intend to manufacture 400 trams in our own plant. This is an ambitious project implying a financial effort which is 40% lower than the import of modern trams. Initially, the new trams will be equipped with partially low floor (60%), but after the modernisation of our plant we intend to manufacture vehicles with 100% low floor.

The technical features of modern trams also require a proper infrastructure. At this moment, 67% of the tram track has been modernised. During the following years we intend to modernise the rest of 30% through our own investment programmes and the integrated projects (tram track and also road works) coordinated by the Municipality.

At the same time, we will rehabilitate three tram depots – Bucureştii Noi, Vatra Luminoasă and Titan, as well as two bus depots – Titan and Alexandria.

Optimisation of modal interchanges and development of dedicated lanes for public transport vehicles

Optimisation of interchanges has become a real challenge nowadays. This is absolutely necessary in order to integrate various transport systems both from a functional and an aesthetic point of view, making them more accessible for passengers.

In order to streamline traffic flows to the city centre we have a close cooperation with the Municipality whose projects include development of Park & Ride facilities. These will be implemented in the areas where there are public transport terminals or stops and where, according to surveys, there are major flows of commuters and occasional visitors which travel by cars.

The first such project has recently started. The parking will be built near the terminal at Baneasa airport and will have 200 parking places spread on five levels. On the ground floor there will be tram and bus lines, and people will be able to park their cars and continue their trips by public transport vehicles. Works will last for approximately one and a half years, and this is the just the first Park & Ride facility from many to come, including underground ones.

Providing dedicated lanes is the best way to improve headways and reliability of surface public transport vehicles. Thus, we developed bus and trolleybus lanes on Bd. Elisabeta, and segregated tram tracks on lines 41 and 32 (along the route sections Str. Antiaeriană–Str. Mărgeanului and Str. Buzoeni–Coşbuc Square).

At the same time, in order to increase operation and quality indicators and provide better transport services for Bucharest travellers we sent a number of proposals to the local authorities regarding other bus and trolleybus lanes. These proposals were included in the Transportation Master Plan for Bucharest city and the next step will be to implement them, according to the available financial resources.

Safety and security on-board RATB’s public transport vehicles

A current issue RATB needs to tackle is provision of safety and security on-board public transport vehicles and at stops. The new tram infrastructure is equipped with many safety elements: new tram track, partly segregated from the rest of the traffic, protection fences, better signalling. The new buses and trolleybuses are equipped with interior and exterior security cameras, which allow a rapid identification of pickpockets or other assaulters.

Moreover, in 2008 RATB initiated a cooperation partnership with the Gendarmerie, which was updated in 2009. The aim of this partnership is to prevent and fight against antisocial deeds in public transport vehicles, providing a safety climate for travellers.

Also, in September 2010 we signed a partnership agreement with the Bucharest Police. Thus, in case of various traffic incidents, e.g. if there is a car blocking the tram track, the Police will take action immediately and the duration of traffic interruptions will be shorter and less inconvenient for public transport users.

Night transport – a solution not merely for young people

In order to better serve our customers who want to benefit from night transport services, RATB intends to purchase smaller-sized vehicles because our current high capacity vehicles are not suitable for night operations. This initiative will first require the approval of the Municipality. Afterwards, we can implement it using European funds or setting up a public-private partnership.

Bus tours to promote the monasteries around Bucharest

Our company intended to diversify its services. Thus, on 1 August 2010, RATB signed a cooperation protocol with the Ministry for Regional Development. The aim of this protocol was to promote the touristic areas around Bucharest and it was a successful initiative. We currently offer seven bus tours to several churches and monasteries during week-ends and religious holidays. After three months of operation, we can say that the touristic line that attracted most people was the one going to Comana Natural Park. This is the widest protected area in the southern part of Romania, spreading over 25,000 hectares. From the pointof- view of biodiversity, it holds the 2nd place in the whole country after the Danube Delta.

At the same time, we hope that by next spring we will be able to implement the ‘Bucharest Sightseeing Tour’ project. This is a project we have been working on for several months with the Municipality and we think it will be very successful because Bucharest has a lot to show to its visitors.

Thoughts for the future

Over the next 10 years, local and regional mobility will be influenced by several factors: development of urban space and local economy, population growth, introduction of new transport technologies. We also need to consider the possibilities to provide energy resources as well as the further development of national and European legal systems.

In this context, we think that Bucharest needs a Transport Authority to apply a unitary management as well as integrated transport policies for all local public transport operators (RATB, METROREX, private operators).

At the same time, public transport must be encouraged by organising special facilities (dedicated lanes, transit signal priority for public transport vehicles, etc.), as well as by further developing modal interchanges.

We are fully aware that citizens need realtime information in order to better plan their trips. Punctuality is very important since daily life imposes certain stringencies – travel to working place, school, university, etc.

Therefore, we intend to implement a realtime passenger information system. This will be carried gradually, first as a pilot project in the main points of interest- railway, airport, downtown area and afterwards it will be extended to the entire transport network.

We also intend to reorganise the public transport network in order to reach the following objectives:

» Improvement of urban integration of surface public transport lines

» Better connections between underground public transport and surface public transport

» Development of mobility plans for companies and schools (in order to optimise travels to these destinations)

» Partnerships with the Municipality, Ministry for Transportation and other local stakeholders in order to develop interrelated transport projects, mainly for RATB, Metrorex (underground transport operator) and CFR (railways transport operator), as well as for the regional transport operators with buses and minibuses. We need to have an integrated approach and the planning should also consider the future Park & Ride facilities, cycling facilities, etc.

» Extension of the transport network to the new residential areas built on the outskirts of the city

» Partnerships with local authorities in order to integrate public transport lines in the new residential developments.

To conclude, I would say that all the abovementioned actions will lead to the increase of public transport quality and attractiveness and we hope to implement them soon despite the current economic situation and thus, the inhabitants of Bucharest city will benefit from better transport services, at European standards.

About the Author

Adrian Criţ

After graduating from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering within the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, Adrian Criţ studied many Postgraduate courses for different sectors. From 1999-2000, Adrian held the position of Engineer within the Romanian Vehicle Registration Authority, then, in 2000, he was promoted to Head of the Pollution Control Department. From February 2003 until June 2010, Adrian was the Head of the Technical Coordination, Pollution Control and Consultancy Department, before becoming General Manager of RATB in June 2010.

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