Without Solid State Guarantees, Croatian Bus Companies Fear for Future

Lauren Simmonds

As Novac/Dora Koretic writes on the 8th of May, 2020, private Croatian bus companies operating on intercity and inter-county lines are among those who aren’t placing too much hope in the announced normalisation of traffic connections, given that, as they confirmed to Jutarnji list, there is no one to compensate for their losses.

The president of the Association of Croatian Public Bus Operators, Hrvoje Mestrovic, estimated that private Croatian bus companies will put a maximum of ten percent of their capacity into operation from Monday, and it is questionable whether it will prove economically viable.

The problem, Mestrovic continues, dates back to November 2019, which, he claims, was the deadline for the state to sign public service contracts with private Croatian bus companies/carriers. That particular document would have assumed that the state would compensate them for losses on unprofitable lines.

”We’ve been warning [them] since last year that the legally prescribed deadline for signing these contracts has expired, but the state has decided to ignore it and thus actually discriminate against private Croatian bus companies. State transport companies, such as Croatian Railways, Croatia Airlines, as well as local ones, have all signed contracts with the state and a state guarantee that they will subsidise lines that aren’t profitable has been given to them, only private bus carriers, which also perform a public function, haven’t been granted such a right,” Mestrovic stated angrily.

This was confirmed by the President of the Management Board of the Ariva Group, Drazen Divjak, whose company will put about ten percent of its capacity, and only the most frequent lines, into function as of Monday.

”We’ll drive from Zagreb to Rijeka, Osijek, Zadar and Split, as well as on other frequent routes, but we’ll have to see during the week just how the situation will develop and how much sense it will actually make. We don’t expect crowds, people don’t have the need to travel right now and I’m afraid I don’t see any solution to this. We’re a company with 1300 employees, and if the situation doesn’t improve, it will be difficult to endure it all, saod Divjak.

Apart from the fact that not too many people are expected on the roads, those who are will be subjected to strict epidemiological measures which mean that only every other seat in the bus will be able to be filled, and passengers will have to be provided with access to disinfectants and the vehicles themselves will need to be regularly cleaned and disinfected.

Given that no influx of passengers is expected, Croatian bus companies believe that the epidemiological measures will succeed, but they doubt that any real economic logic is being realised at all.

”We’re going to be driving in a very reduced form. We’re currently negotiating with cities and counties to get some estimates of which lines passengers are expected to use, but at the moment no one can know for sure. The big problem for us is the fact that we haven’t signed [the aforementioned] contracts with the state,” said the President of the Management Board of the popular Cazmatrans, Dragan Marinovic.

According to Mestrovic, the biggest shortage will be experienced by private Croatian bus companies due to the lack of students who normally make up 30 to 40 percent of passengers using them, then by workers who usually make up 15 percent of the capacities, and it is difficult to count on retired passengers currently.

”The state has obviously decided to discriminate against some passengers. Namely, those who live near the railway were provided with subsidised transport, and those who depend on buses were left to just try to manage on their own, to fend for themselves,” Mestrovic continued.

What will domestic lines be doing as of Monday?

The Croatian national airline Croatia Airlines, which has already been enfeebled by numerous problems in the pre-coronavirus era and really didn’t need further issues, announced its flight plans from May the 11th a week ago.

As of Monday, domestic lines will be partially established again, on the route Zagreb – Split – Zagreb and Zagreb – Dubrovnik – Zagreb twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, and of the international lines – only the one that operated even in the most restrictive conditions will remain in operation. The one which travels from Zagreb – Frankfurt – Zagreb, and only once a day.

On all flights for passengers, there will be an obligation to use masks or face covers, and they will have to be used during the entire stay in the cabin.

According to the information published by the company HZ Putnicki prijevoz late yesterday afternoon, almost all lines in domestic railway traffic will be re-established from Monday, except for a small part of the trains that will temporarily not run. International trains are still not in operation.

When it comes to domestic lines and connections, HZ Putnicki prijevoz will put 642 trains into operation on weekdays, 379 on Saturdays, and 288 trains on Sundays and other non-working days.

What will be running as of next Monday?


– Almost all lines

– 642 trains on weekdays

– 379 trains on Saturdays

– 288 trains on Sundays and public holidays

Air traffic:

– Route Zagreb – Split – Zagreb

– Route Zagreb – Dubrovnik – Zagreb


– A smaller number of lines

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