As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the Association of Croatian Bus Lines (UHAJLP) welcomed the introduction of free train transport for primary and secondary Croatian school pupils, but also warned that such a form of transport will ultimately be used by only a small percentage of students.
Namely, in the explanation of its decision on the introduction of free transport by Croatian Railways (HZ), the Croatian Government pointed out that it will be able to be used by about 780,000 children and students of primary and secondary schools throughout the Republic of Croatia, but this mode of transport is hardly the most popular.
While most Croatian school pupils live close enough to their schools to simply walk there from home, others arrive by bus, are driven there by their parents, or catch trams in Zagreb, trains are far from popular. In fact, transportation for daily commuting to school will be used by a mere 10 to 15 percent of Croatian school pupils who just happen to be living right next to the railway tracks.
“The basis for the introduction of free transport by HZ Putnicki prijevoz (HZ passenger transport) is the so-called the concept of a public service on the basis of which this carrier receives over 450 million kuna a year from the state and is an additional pilot project of the competent ministry, which will pay out an additional 30 million kuna to this publicly owned company over the next fifteen months.
Although there are of course legal preconditions to take into consideration, as well as obligations derived from European Union directives, this public service is not paid to entrepreneurs who transport students, workers and other passengers by bus on routes that are generally not economically viable, but only to state companies such as HZ or Jadrolinija,” they stated from UHAJLP.
Commenting on the recent decision of Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic, Hrvoje Mestrovic, president of the Association of Croatian Bus Public Line Carriers, pointed out that out of the total number of primary and secondary school students, HZ transports a maximum of 15 percent per year, which is hardly a huge amount of kids.
Slightly more than a third of those Croatian school pupils are located in cities that have some form of public city transport which is also covered by public services, while half of the students depend exclusively on public line bus carriers, explained Mestrovic.
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