A Zagreb Streetcar Named I Promise

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With the elections for Mayor of Zagreb just a few months away, the Good Spirit of Zagreb returns on November 28, 2016 to take a closer look at a proposed plan of the current mayor.

Hear ye, hear ye! Election season is almost upon us. And as such, the time has come for us to hear about those all important promises that no one plans to keep.

With less than six months remaining until the local elections, the mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandić has upped the ante. Water fountains are great, but can they win an election?

Well, just when we thought he had played his high hand, the mayor pulled that ace from his sleeve.

Just last week, he green lit the plans to begin work on a tram line from the centre of Zagreb to the airport in Velika Gorica. Altogether 50 million euros in costs, 9 kilometers in length, 12 new tram stops and close to two years of construction. That’s how long the proposed project would take. When completed, two and a half years from now, every single one of us will be able to board a tram on Kvaternikov square and ride to the airport in less than thirty minutes for 10 kuna. A grand idea, truly something that a European capital needs.

A simple, reliable and cost effective way to get to the main transportation hub of a nation.

No joke or pun intended, the idea is a long time coming.

What bothers me, and probably most of the citizens of Zagreb, is the fact that this idea isn’t new. In fact this ambitious plan was first set in motion over five years ago.

Speaking as a guest on a local radio station in Zagreb in 2011, Bandić stated:” Zagreb doesn’t have a metro, so I plan to create a tram line from Jelačić square to the airport”.

He was careful and sly. He gave no dates, or mention of costs, and more importantly other than his word, no commitments were made.

Now, with six months remaining till we cast our votes, in what may be the last election he stands on as a candidate, he asks we take his word for it. He will keep his promise. He always has in the past. Well, thank you, but it’s going to be a no.

You see, six years of promises taught me that we have a short memory span and he’s counting on it. Because the one thing he didn’t say when announcing his “new” ambitious plan is that the city cannot bear the burden financially and more importantly there’s the tiny problem of a building in the way. Now, I know what you are thinking, buildings come down all the time.

Or, if needed someone can build around it, can’ they? Well, it turns out the answer is – no, they can’t. In fact, there is very little that can be done about the building as it is a culturally protected piece of real estate and cannot be altered or otherwise interfere with. The building dates back to 1928 when it served as a public bathhouse. So if the tram line is to be finished, the house will have to come down or the plans will have to be altered. Surely, the same can be said about the city’s leadership.


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