CYPRUS will be issuing a call for tenders in the coming days, as it seeks to put a new, improved, public transport system in place by July next year, Transport Minister Vassiliki Anastasiadou said on Monday.
The minister said it would be a matter of days with a view of having the new system in place by July 2020, without the constant disruptions currently experienced by passengers.
“We are almost ready to announce an international competition,” the minister said. Anastasiadou added that the new system will afford the public an upgraded service compared with what is currently in place.
Buses will be newer, there will be more routes and information to passengers in real time, “something which is necessary to force passengers to get out of their cars and opt for public transport.”
The cost to taxpayers will be higher, however, compared with the current contracts, the minister said.
“The cost can be justified by the increased routes, the new buses, protection of the environment,” Anastasiadou said, adding that through public transport, Cyprus will try to meet its emissions and energy targets.
The minister said risk to the state is minimised in the new contracts, with the operators assuming the risk.
“Contractors will not come back to the state and pressure, or perhaps blackmail, to get more money because the cost will be predetermined based on their offer and the workers will be his,” the minister said.
Since its introduction around 10 years ago, the public transport system has been plagued with problems and has failed spectacularly to provide a decent service.
It quickly emerged that the model guaranteed high returns to the bus companies, made up of bus owners, regardless of how costly their operations were.
Big salaries were paid to family members who were given executive posts, bus drivers were paid wages that had no bearing on the laws of supply and demand, and petrol-guzzling buses were bought.
As the economic crisis took hold, the state sought to rationalise the system, leading to frequent driver strikes over delays in getting paid, as companies appeared to hold back in a bid to win more cash from the state.