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The Ploiesti buses, a Romanian-style success-story (URBACT newsletter no. 38)

Author: CIVITAS Support
Posted on: Thursday, July 19, 2007 - 13:26
Ploiesti , SUCCESS

The necessity of an integrated policy “land using - urban transport” has determined the involvement of Ploiesti City in EU`s CIVITAS Initiative. The modernizing of the Ploiesti bus network is one of the key parts of the project.The involvement of Ploiesti in the CIVITAS Initiative was promoted in an article published on 22nd March 2007 in URBACT newsletter, as a Romanian-style success-story.The article contains a short description and citizens comments on Ploiesti bus service. The new buses are cleaner, better and more comfortable but are also faster for people. Here's the article:

Ploiesti's bus service is currently undergoing some major changes, thanks to the introduction of a satellite traffic control system and the switch to LPG. The aim of this project, which is part of a more global urban development scheme, is to encourage local inhabitants to start using public transport again and to minimize pollution in this oil-producing city. A CIVITAS Initiative, studied within the URBACT framework of the EQUPTI training project.In Ploiesti, buses no longer run late. There's simply no comparison, comments Ion Dumitru, a local man in his fifties who catches the bus every day. The buses are now on time, and pass more frequently. That was far from being the case before. By before, he means before the Romanian city launched the CIVITAS SUCCESS project, carried out in partnership with La Rochelle (France) and Preston (England), in February 2005. This CIVITAS II Initiative, studied within the framework of URBACT's training project EQUPTI, aims to implement sustainable, clean and efficient urban public transport networks. Oil and ideasTwo years ago, the bus network in this city of 240,000 inhabitants underwent a minor revolution: the buses were converted to LPG, 38 LED panels indicating the times of the next buses were installed at bus-stops, a modern ticketing system was studied and, most importantly, a new real-time traffic monitoring and control system was introduced. This was the first project of its kind in Romania, and had a clearly-defined objective: make public transport more attractive within the framework of a sustainable development policy. Ploiesti is a polluted city because there are numerous oil refineries in the surrounding area. With CIVITAS SUCCESS, we wanted to truly improve local citizens' quality of life explains Cozia-Roxana Georgescu, the director of the city council's external affairs department. By 2009, our aim is to create a fully pedestrianised restricted access zone in the city centre, create cycle paths, and rework the city's traffic planning to reduce the amount of traffic we have in the city centre. What's more, we intend to continue modernizing the bus network, which is one of the key parts of the project.The cornerstone of this modernization work is the real-time traffic monitoring system. All of the 190 buses and 17 trolley-buses that make up the fleet have been equipped with a GPS locator so that their every movement can be tracked. At the terminus of route 44, a bus is about to begin its journey. A GPS locator is positioned next to the driver. All of a sudden, a buzzer goes off. Cristian Gheorghe, already in the driver's seat ready to go, explains what it is. The signal tells me that I must set off in six minutes. The monitoring centre uses this locator to tell us when to set off, to warn us if we are early or late, and to tell us which route to follow, explains Cristian.Real-time traffic controlOn the other side of the city at the head office of the RATP (Regia Autonoma de Transport Ploiesti), the company that runs the city's public transport system, a large room houses four computers. Ten controllers take it in turns to man this traffic monitoring and control centre 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Data concerning each vehicle flashes across the screens. In red, we can see the vehicles that are running late. Blue shows those that are early, and in white are those that are bang on time. We use this information to warn the drivers and to tell them to speed up or slow down, explains Daniela Tames, one of the controllers. Thirty-five standard messages (set off, warning, technical breakdown...) are pre-recorded and enable us to know what is going on minute by minute. For everything else, we communicate by telephone.Thanks to the GPS monitoring system, the network's traffic can now be controlled in real-time. Just as Daniela has informed one driver that it's time for him to set off, a second message pops up on the screen. Bus number 3037 has just sent a warning signal. He's losing oil, explains Catalin Sandu, the manager of the centre. So we've sent him to the maintenance centre and we'll re-work the schedule so that the service still runs on time, either by contacting a driver who was supposed to start slightly later, or by sending out one of our 'reserve' buses. The result is that fewer buses are late and the traffic is managed a whole lot better. What's more, the number of passengers has significantly increased: 58 million journeys were recorded in 2006 compared to just 52 million in 2005.Another part of the CIVITAS SUCCESS project involved converting the network's buses to LPG. 25 buses have already been equipped with an LPG engine for a cost of 180,000 euros each, explains Dana Pana, from the RATP. As far as the local inhabitants are concerned, this environmentally-friendly development is an extremely positive thing. These new buses pollute a whole lot less, which is absolutely wonderful, smiles Stefania, a 19-year-old student, it has an impact on the quality of life in the city. And this impact should soon become even more obvious, since 25 other buses will be converted to LPG in the near future, Dana Pana goes on to say. In Romania, contrary to European legislation, LPG is not recognized as being a less-pollutive form of fuel, which means we have to pay more substantial taxes. Ploiesti's decision represents a true commitment to help save the environment.Click here for more details on www.ubact.eu

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