Apr 29, 2015

Krakow AMC targets neglected suburban bus lines

Lack of bus shelters and other basics makes buses unattractive

Krakow has a population of 760,000 and a dense public transport network that has been vastly modernised in recent years with EU help. But transport to and from its suburbs is an increasing challenge.

For the SmartMove AMC campaign, Krakow has focused on a peripheral area west of the city. It includes the Liszki district, which comprises a handful of villages that are home to about 16,000 residents. The main corridor of concern is Road 780 and parallel routes that run about 15 km between Liszki and the western edge of Krakow.

The basic road network of the area includes the Krakow ring road as well as regional and local roads connecting the smaller villages. Many inhabitants of Liszki need to get to and from workplaces and schools in downtown Krakow. A high reliance on private cars results in traffic congestion along the main corridor, especially during peak hours.

The main alternative is a bus system that feeds the tram lines that terminate at the city’s western border. Commuters from suburban areas can transfer from bus to tram in order to reach the city centre. If more inhabitants of the Liszki district would commute by bus, this would decrease congestion on the roads into the city and increase the number of passengers on the trams.

The main goal of Krakow’s AMC campaign is therefore to increase the number of trips by public transport, but also to increase passenger satisfaction with the service. An important objective toward this goal is to increase the number of people that plan their trips with dynamic information on the Internet, as some older inhabitants are not familiar with modern information tools.

The target group consists of all Liszki inhabitants, with special attention to those who work in Krakow. Some AMC events will target primary and secondary school students, in the hope of making a lasting impression that will carry on into their adult lives. Such events are also useful because students share interesting lessons from school with their parents.

Ten bus lines operate in the analysed area, including one at night and an express suburban line that serves selected bus stops. Almost all of these lines have a stop at the tram terminus where passengers can make centre-bound connections. Passengers also have the opportunity to transfer to bicycle, as one of Krakow’s bike-share stations is situated at the tram terminus.

Unfortunately, bus frequency in the Liszki district is poor. During weekdays, the average line runs just one or two buses per hour during peak times and once per hour at other times. The quality of the bus stops also leaves something to be desired. They lack roofs, lighting and even seats in many locations. The combination of long waits and uncomfortable conditions discourages bus use. Added to this, some bus stops are just isolated platforms of concrete, with no paved connection with the rest of the street, thus there is no way of safely reaching the stops without walking through weeds and dirt.

These factors pose a risk to Krakow’s AMC because many residents cannot be persuaded to use public transport in such conditions. At the same time, the AMC organisers can count on some help from local authorities. It is hoped that the AMC campaign will raise awareness about the need for improvements and that some basic investments will be in the offing. The participation of inhabitants will be strengthened by the engagement of local church communities, which are very influential in Poland.

The AMC campaign will start in the second half of May and will take a few weeks. Active measures will follow, including meetings with inhabitants, the provision of information to churches, free bus rides, citizen audits, meetings at schools and the provision of general information during a survey. Participants in the AMC campaign will receive general and personalised information about public transport and will be offered a range of attractive gifts related to walking, bus use and other sustainable travel options.

Photo credit: K. Nosal, K.Solecka - Krakow University of Technology