Government Decree 1652/2020 (X. 9.) published in the 9 October 2020 issue of the Hungarian Gazette states that the government wishes to encourage sustainable and environmentally conscious travel and the use of train connections and suburban railway lines between the capital and its agglomeration.
HMassive traffic jam on a road leading into Budapest (Photo: ujbuda.hu)
The quest for fewer cars
To achieve this, the government plans to expand P+R and B+R capacity in the agglomeration, increasing parking by 3000 and bike storage by 2000 spaces. The decree also details the need for bus lines connecting to the guided transportation network and envisions the creation of bus stops and terminals at stations. The decree also orders the creation of a comprehensive strategy for the development of cycle routes around Budapest, to increase the popularity of cycling.
The preparation and construction of the car parks and storage facilities will be overseen by the Budapest Development Centre. The Centre is required to align with the national rail service, local transportation companies, and local governments. Nearly 800 million HUF has been provided for the developments from the 2020 budget.
Secretary of State for the Development of Budapest and its Agglomeration, Balázs Fürjes told the MTI after the decision that the government was committed to practical solutions in the development of the capital. "We have simple goals: better public transport, fewer traffic jams, cleaner air, and a climate-friendly urban environment. Public transport and the development of public transport is the key. In this area, our goal is to ensure that commuters reach the destinations faster, comfortably and with fewer transfers. One of the greatest challenges is that over one million people travel into Budapest each day from the outer districts and surrounding towns and villages with over two-thirds of them relying on cars," said the Secretary of State.
Asked about how this number could be reduced, Balázs Fürjes added that re-educating people and banning certain forms of transport was not an option. "Spilling a bucket of yellow paint across the city centre at random will not work" – he added.
Transportation must be improved beyond the city centre
"Budapest is not just the city centre. Every citizen of the city and its agglomeration are equal. They have the same right to good transport and comfortable living conditions" – said the Secretary of State.
The number and utilization of parking spaces at suburban railway stations (Source: Budapest Development Centre/Facebook/Dávid Vitézy)
Balázs Fürjes highlighted three tasks:
- better connections via public transport through the development of rail connections and the renovation of suburban railway lines;
- the construction of direct connections that avoid the city centre, missing elements of external ring roads and bridges, the Galvini Bridge among them;
- finally the creation of high-capacity parking for cars and bicycles at major transport junctions to allows commuters to change to better quality rail, metro or tram services – summed up Balázs Fürjes.
The plan for the new car parks was finalized based on a detailed study.
The Secretary of State also detailed that the Budapest Development Centre had completed a detailed study on the best strategy for the development of P+R and B+R in recent months.
The Secretary of State emphasized that the study had examined all relevant stations and stops leading to the capital. A total of 171 locations in 108 settlements were researched, including their current capacity, demand and how traffic will change in the future.
In many places, multiple times the current capacity could be filled easily. This is illustrated not only by the fact that the parking spaces are filled early in the morning but by how drivers will leave their cars parked on grass or in unofficial car parks. Balázs Fürjes explained that steps had to be taken to decrease the mass of vehicles that descend on Budapest every day. Adding that two-thirds of commuters currently travel to Budapest by car.
"Everyone agrees that a new balance must be found between the transportation of Budapest and the agglomeration. Today we have taken a step in this direction. The government has decided to start planning the construction of a total of 5000 B+R and P+R parking spaces at stations and transport junctions in the suburbs and the agglomeration. The goal of these development efforts is to bring tens of thousands of commuters onto public transport through choice, rather than force. The government has provided over 700 million HUF for the surveying, planning and permitting required for the developments," said Mr Fürjes.
Plans for a continuous cycle path network
The Secretary of State also announced that the Budapest Development Centre would create a comprehensive strategy for the development of bike routes around the capital. The plan will outline a network which not only facilitates access to trains and suburban rail stations but allows commuters to cycle directly into the city centre.
Dávid Vitézy, CEO of the Budapest Development Centre said the government's decision affected the agglomeration area of seven railway lines (lines 1 - from Hegyeshalom, 30a from Székesfehérvár, 70 from Vác, 71 from Veresegyháza, 100a from Cegléd, 120 from Újszász and 150 from Kunszentmiklós). Plans and permits for car parks and bike storage at more than forty railway stations and stops are expected by 2022. Mr Vitézy emphasized that the measures would double the number of parking spaces along the selected lines.
Cover photo: B+R storage at a train station (Photo: BKK)