As Glas Istre writes on the 26th of November, 2018, calculations show that almost a million people per year can be found on Pula’s riva (waterfront), with the highest concentration naturally being in the tourist season, during the warmer summer months. Could the introduction of a Pula riva tram be the answer to a silent yet pressing question for the city?
These high concentrations of people are all potential users of the historic Istrian city’s future tram. Rather than driving cars into the city and its roads, a tram could be a much better option. Ultimately, the benefits of such a move would be multifaceted. Pula would have the opportunity to put its abandoned resources back into proper use, namely the railway line, and solve a good part of its traffic problems in an environmentally friendly manner.
Can the introduction of an electric tram along the Pula riva significantly reduce the traffic and crowding during the summer, and eliminate the proverbial tourist suffocation on the streets of Pula? Yes, it can – claim Livio Nefat and Ivan Skol, who are completing their project on the introduction of an electric tram in Pula, by reactivating the neglected railroad tracks which already exist in the popular Istrian city.
Instead of going back into the past, the Pula riva tram project introduces us to the future, just like in the film. We imagine that it would be able to travel along the entire Pula Bay, where there is already a line from older times. To be able to take a tram to go swimming at Punta Krišto, Štinjan and Hidro on one side, or go shopping in Max City on the other. And how would it be, during the summer, to be able to sit on a tram that would take you under the tunnels below the Montezaro park all the way to the exit not far from Elektroistra? It sounds unreal, but it isn’t an impossible task.
The above is the vision of the Pula locals, who have been steadily and enthusiastically engaged in the Pula riva tram idea for the last four years.
”Thousands of tourists a day, from the nearby tourist zones, from settlements, camp sites, and hotels from various places across Istria, come to the centre of Pula during the summer in their cars and on buses to see its sights, to embark on a boat tour or to go to one of the evening performances at Pula Arena. They go and park wherever they arrive in the city centre, and more and more are parking at large car parks at the entrance to the city – at Mandrač, on the outskirts of the riva in the north, on Marsovo polje, and at the former Industrokema in the southern part of the city. There are no adequate, targeted means of transport now. Walking in the summer at 35 degrees is a problem for everyone. After all, they want to be comfortable, most aren’t bothered about walking, but they’d be happy to drive,” Livio Nepat states.
According to his idea, the Pula riva tram would initially run from the car park at Mandrač, near the railway station, and then along the waterfront all the way to the Forum. If the line ended up being extended as planned, and then realised, the southern part of that same symmetrical line would see a tram take tourists and other travellers from the Forum to the future garage located at Marsovo polje, where there are other larger car parks. Therefore, the tourists would leave their vehicles in the aforementioned parking areas, at Mandrač and Marsovo polje, in order to get into the city by public transport, more specifically by electric tram. This smart solution would significantly relieve Pula’s burdened roads of the overwhelming crowds during the summer, according to the authors of the planned project.
According to the business plan they have developed, the first phase of the investment is worth about five million kuna, and that could be paid off within a three year period. These calculations show that almost a million people can be found on the waterfront per year, where they then embark on ships, excursion boats, buses on the waterfront, or go to concerts and other various events held at Pula Arena. These are, as stated, all potential users of Pula’s future tram.
Ultimately, the benefit of the introduction of such a tram service in Pula would be a multifaceted one. The city would put its unused and abandoned resources back into proper use, such as the railway line, and thus solve at least a good part of the traffic jams in an environmentally acceptable way, explained Ivan Skol.
As far as the second phase of the project is concerned, the proposal is to use a railroad that runs along Pula Bay as a whole. The track already exists on one side all the way to the cement factory (alternatively, the old route from back in 1904 could be restored) not so far from Muzil, Max City, the Naval cemetery and the church, and on the other side, to Punta Guc at Valellunga, where a cruise terminal is planned. So, an even greater influx of tourists who need transportation to Pula Arena, the Forum, the market etc is expected. By extending the line from the cement factory to Muzil, it could also even reach an important future tourist area, as well as a new shopping centre.
On the other hand, the railway line towards the north, from the railway station to the military airport, already exists. With the addition of the section to the civilian airport, the Pula riva tram would be able to offer an elegant transfer service for thousands of passengers from the airport to the city, as well as to the future cruise terminal.
”I’ve been working on this tram north-south simulator for four years now. So far, a lot has been agreed. After lengthy negotiations, (with particular emphasis and thanks to the professional staff of the traffic section of Pula and Istria) HŽ confirmed to us that it’s technically possible to use two tracks that are not being used at Pula railway station. The licensed company from Zagreb, authorised to design the railway infrastructure, has been working on completing the entire design process over recent days. We got a CD from the City of Pula with all the necessary geodetic substrates of the Mandrač – Forum route for the project, for which we’re especially grateful to the Administrative Department for Spatial Planning of the City of Pula,” noted Livio Nefat.
The author’s desire is to present the “Tw” Pula riva tram project to the City of Pula when all of its loose ends are tied up. It is the City itself which will decide whether or not the project will come to life. Without the green light from them, it is impossible to realise, among other important things, the availability of a funding channel through European Union money. With EU cash behind it, the whole project would be easier to kickstart and then later continue to elaborate.
The two Pula locals have said that their desire to bring this project to fruition comes from their wish to make a contribution to the community as citizens of Pula, for the citizens of Pula, and in cooperation with the City of Pula, with the help of EU funds, ITU mechanisms and other forms of financing to realise a self-sustaining entrepreneurial venture, from which everyone would benefit.
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