October 1, 2020 – A new Sveta Nedelja free bus service will soon come into operation, the latest innovative move from arguably Croatia’s most progressive town.
A wise man once said: “Surround yourself with positive people and progressive thinkers, and watch how much more positive your life becomes.”
After years of living in Croatia listening to people complaining in cafes and the media about how terrible things are here, I made a decision to surround myself with positive people and those looking forward rather than back to the past.
The results are amazing.
Rather than coming to accept that there is no good news in Croatia and nothing is possible without connections, when surrounded by some positive forces, you learn that actually quite a lot IS possible, and things ARE getting done. One great example of this, of course (and a hot topic right now), is the imminent introduction of the digital nomad visa for Croatia. Croatia will be only the second country in Europe to introduce this progressive new direction for Croatia. And all because a Dutchman, Jan de Jong, sent an open letter to the prime minister on LinkedIn asking for the visa. Some 44 days later, following a meeting with de Jong, Prime Minister Plenkovic tweeted that his government would introduce the visa, and it was introduced into Parliament the following day.
Just 44 days.
During the summer.
De Jong has now turned his attention to getting Croatia to plant again, by starting a new project with Dutch technology, to grow tomatoes in northern Croatia, creating an initial 72 jobs. Within days of posting his intentions on LinkedIn, he had already received offers of 5 million euro in investments from all over the world.
Quite inspiring, this positive atmosphere, isn’t it?
And it is not just the private sector. Several local authorities are doing incredible things trying to modernise the archaic and nepotistic administrations they have inherited. And, as I learned last weekend on my first visit to the town of Sveta Nedelja just outside Zagreb, some administrations are doing things rather nicely indeed. In an age of emigration, unemployment and economic hardship, here was a town whose population has grown 10% since the 2011 census, which has created 20% more jobs since 2017, whose unemployment rate of 3.9% is well below the national average, and whose transparent administration and aggressive slashing of local taxes have helped grow the budget from 107 million kuna in 2017 to 169 million kuna this year.
And all the good news and income is being passed on to its residents through a range of innovative schemes, the latest of which was announced by Mayor Dario Zurovec on Facebook two days ago – the introduction of the Sveta Nedelja free bus service, which will come into operation in a few weeks. Here is what the mayor had to say:
Today I signed a contract with the bus carrier Arriva to provide a bus service in the area of the town of Sveta Nedelja. We will announce the exact start date of the traffic soon, after we have just solved a few small formalities. Passengers on local buses will not have to buy tickets. Below you can read how the concept was conceived, and we will inform you about the exact schedules and timetable just before the start of operations.
As part of our free public transport we will introduce 3 lines to Podsused that allow you to connect to trains. In this way, passengers will have more favorable conditions because the ticket will not cost them anything until they change to the train. Additionally, this way you avoid traffic jams on the roads to the center of Zagreb or even the east, and it is possible to travel to Zaprešić. Those who do not like the train will be able to continue their journey on ZET buses:
* from the Podsused roundabout towards the Ljubljanica and Črnomerec
* on the other side of the railway in Podsused (Av. Bologne) towards Črnomerec and Zaprešić
Also, at the other end of one of the bus lines, it will be possible to change to ZET in Kalinovica (on the old road) and from there travel to the Sava Bridge.
As for traveling to Samobor, there is an option to travel to Sveta Nedelja or Strmec by free public transport and then change to Samoborček / Autoturist.
The introduction of free public transport does not mean that existing bus carriers stop running. So, they continue to operate, because their lines are inter-county and county, which is why they are not under our jurisdiction. This means that the same Samoborček / Autoturist lines continue to run at the same prices to Zagreb and Samobor until these carriers decide otherwise.
In the future, we intend to further improve this free public transportation service.
With the current legal framework, this is a big step forward and far better than the model we have had so far. This concept of city transport allows you to get anywhere within the city of Sveta Nedelja without paying a ticket, and to get to Zagreb quickly and for a very low price because you only pay the train or ZET. Also, this will make the trip to Samobor cheaper. In addition to all that, departure times will be frequent throughout the week, but also on weekends and holidays, while night lines will also run on weekends and holidays. The carrier was selected through a public tender, the value of the contract is about 4.2 million kuna per year and is financed entirely from the town budget.
In this way, Sveta Nedelja has once again become an example to other towns in Croatia. In addition to the quality of service to citizens, additional benefits of this kind of public transport are that there will be fewer cars and less traffic jams, fewer traffic accidents, less CO2 emissions, with of course a more favorable situation for your home budgets.
Thanks to all my collaborators and Davor Nadji who worked with us on this project until recently. I am happy that we are fulfilling our promises, and we will not stop there. More good news for our Sveta Nedelja is coming soon!
Mayor Zurovec was on the bus today on a test run, and he posted on Facebook Live with more details on how this will all work.
Sveta Nedelja is a great story which we will be following is more detail over the next 12 months and more, a true example of how things CAN work in Croatia. Here is an overview of the first part of my first visit to Croatia’s newest town last weekend – read more in Sveta Nedelja Beyond Rimac: Jobs, Innovation, Nature, Population Growth.
You can follow the latest in the Sveta Nedelja revolution in our dedicated TCN section.