Select Committee on European Communities Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Hampshire County Council


  We are all aware of the environmental benefits of public transport and the significant role it has to play in promoting local sustainability. Therefore, despite rapidly increasing car ownership and limited resources, the project partners believe that the significant proportion of demand for mobility in Chisinau, and indeed other NIS cities, can and shall continue to be met by public transport provided that it is reformed and restructured. To achieve these improvements the project allowed for training, advice and information exchange, on a broad range of public transport strategy and operational issues. The evidence presented in this note reflects the final project report and where possible responds to the request for further information for the Sub-Committee on specific issues.


  The project focused on how the demand for public transport in Chisinau can be met efficiently and cost-effectively against a backdrop of transition towards a market economy and democratic political system. The primary objectives were an evaluation of:

    —  existing passenger flows;

    —  potential route, network and operational improvements;

    —  requirements for additional public transport resources;

    —  traffic management measures to give priority to public transport;

    —  the feasibility of introducing new modes of public transport including trams.


  The project is now completed with a Final Report scheduled for publication in May 1998. A conference is being planned for July 1998 in Chisinau which will include the dissemination of the project results to NIS Municipal and Public Transport Managers. The project has also identified a number of objectives to be considered for implementation in the longer term.


  Hampshire County Council recognises the importance of developing European partnerships and links. Its interest and involvement in European affairs is demonstrated by its:

    —  membership of the Assembly of European Regions;

    —  regional partnerships;

  —  Hampshire/Basse Normandie (France) Accord;

  —  Hampshire/Bizkaia (Spain) Collaboration Agreement;

    —  links with Noord Brabant (Holland), Moscow Region (Russia), Hunedoara (Romania) and Nograd (Hungary).

  Given the new challenges facing the NIS in establishing a democratic political system and their transition from a command to a market economy, Hampshire recognised the necessity for promoting co-operation between EU and NIS regions. Contacts and exchange visits between leading elected members of Hampshire County Council and Chisinau Municipality had occurred and the TACIS Programme offered an opportunity to establish more formal co-operation.

  Public transport had readily been identified as a field for co-operation recognising the decline of public transport and growth in car ownership in Chisinau and Hampshire's broad expertise in this field including its active participation in other EU initiatives such as SCOPE/EUROSCOPE, ROMANSE, ENTRANCE, ENTIRE and the POLIS network organisation. It was also recognised that the TACIS project would help promote broader links including potential economic opportunities.

  Funding for Hampshire County Councils transnational partnerships have been generally been secured through direct European Union project funding, although we are increasingly looking to develop other sources of funding such as the UK Know How Fund, World Bank and EBRD.


  It was agreed by the partners to establish a Project Plan detailing the issues to be evaluated. Managers and specialists from the Municipality and the Chisinau Public Transport Company were then to receive "hands on" training and experience of public transport systems and techniques in Hampshire. This was to involve detailed tuition, study visits, presentations and meetings with public transport operators and specialists. The project was to be reviewed periodically to ensure the objectives were being addressed and that practical proposals could be established. The training was to be designed to facilitate a transfer of knowledge to the Chisinau partners enabling them to implement the project recommendations thereby progressing the reform and restructuring of public transport in Chisinau.


(1) March 1997—First Hampshire Visit to Chisinau

    —  established working relationships;

    —  allowed Hampshire managers to familiarise themselves with public transport operations and systems;

    —  extensive "fact finding";

    —  partners identified the main issues regarding public transport in Chisinau;

    —  identified specific areas of training requirements.

(2) April/May 1997—First Chisinau Visit to Hampshire

    —  allowed for training in the following areas:

  —  operational costing including company restructuring and income generation including fares systems and collection;

  —  surveys and demand monitoring systems;

  —  route planning and scheduling;

  —  establishing a contractual relationship between the Municipality and the Public Transport Company;

  —  traffic management and bus priority measures;

  —  planning and developing light rail/tram based systems;

    —  study visits to bus companies in Hampshire to give first-hand experience of UK public transport operations;

    —  investigation of bus priorities and other public transport infrastructure;

    —  identified short-term improvements to public transport to be implemented in Chisinau.

(3) July 1997—second Hampshire visit to Chisinau

    —  assessed progress with implementation of short-term improvements;

    —  further training on traffic management and bus priorities including evaluation of actual sites in Chisinau;

    —  detailed assessment of Concessionary Fares system;

    —  interim review of project.

(4) August 1997—Publication of Interim Project Report and Discussion Note regarding Concessionary Fares

(5) October 1997—Hampshire visit to Moldovan Parliament

    —  presentation of Interim Report and Discussion Note;

    —  meeting of partners with Government representatives to discuss issue of Concessionary Fares in particular and public transport in general.

(6) October 1997—Partners Study visit to Kalisz Bus Company, Poland

    —  first-hand assessment of "westernised" bus company;

    —  study of finance, scheduling, marketing and management methods in view of UK interests/part ownership of company.

(7) December 1997—third Hampshire visit to Chisinau

    —  allowed for further training

    —  further evaluation of scope for introducing light rail/tram system in Chisinau;

    —  review of project;

    —  identified outstanding issues and training requirements.

(8) February/March 1998—second Chisinau visit to Hampshire

    —  allowed for further training;

    —  study visits to modern tram systems in UK;

    —  further study visits to bus companies;

    —  final review of project to ensure objectives had been met and assess scope for practical recommendations and actions beyond project end.

(9) May 1998—Publication of Final Project Report


Hampshire County Council—County Surveyor's Department

  The project was managed, and implemented by the Head of Passenger Transport assisted by the group's middle managers. Other managers and transport specialists from within the County Surveyor's Department assisted with specific aspects of the project including training activities. The project was carried out in consultation with the Deputy County Surveyor and at elected member level with the Chairman of Planning and Transportation Committee and the Chairman of the Public Transport Sub-Committee.

Chisinau Municipality and Chisinau Public Transport Company

  A range of senior and middle managers from both the Municipality and the Public Transport Company were involved in the project and received training including the Vice Mayor of Chisinau and the Director of the Public Transport Company. This commitment at a senior level ensured that project targets were met within the NISA partner organisations, despite the institutional inertia that can sometimes frustrate progress in the former Soviet republics.

Southern Vectis Bus Company

  A consultant with experience of East European public transport operations form Southern Vectis was employed as a technical partner to the project. The working relationship between project partners and consultant were developed over the life of the project, with strong client management ensuring good value for money.

Project Co-ordination

  The project was co-ordinated by Hampshire's Passenger Transport Group, the Chisinau Municipality Director of International Relations and a project adviser in Chisinau. Actions were approved by Hampshire's Deputy County Surveyor and in Chisinau by the Vice Mayor and Director of the Public Transport Company.

TACIS Programme Co-ordination

  The project partners main contact with the European Union was through the TACIS Secretariat in Brussels and its technical assistance team in Paris. The guidance given was thorough and deadlines were observed. Receipt of co-financing was dependent on the submission of accounts and reports but was generally well managed. The greatest difficulty was changing details of the project plan, as the objectives of the project altered over the project life.

  The NIS partners in Chisinau had limited assistance but strong support from the local TACIS office in Moldova.


  The project budget was 121,005 ECU co-financed by the EU TACIS City Twinning Programme (96804 ECU—80 per cent) and Hampshire County Council (24201 ECU—20 per cent). The budget covered the project costs relating to:

    —  staff time for EU and NIS participants;

    —  payments to the technical partner;

    —  project management and administration including telecommunications;

    —  travel fares, accommodation and subsistence for participants during the exchange and training visits;

    —  purchase of equipment for Chisinau partners;

    —  translation and interpretation;

    —  production of project reports;

    —  attendance at TACIS conferences and seminars.


  The project has enabled a full evaluation of public transport in Chisinau and a successful programme of training on a series of strategic and operational issues. Our Chisinau partners are now equipped with a range of knowledge and experience of western models of public transport which can be utilised to help develop solutions to the problems and issues facing public transport in Chisinau.

  In broader terms, the project has been significant in raising the profile of public transport on the political agenda. It has stressed the major role it must play in developing Chisinau as a "green" and sustainable city and raised awareness of the need for reforms and resources to enable the necessary improvements to the public transport system.

  During the course of the project the partners have:

    —  established several non-core activities of the Public Transport Company (housing, catering etc.), as independent cost centres;

    —  reviewed staffing levels and management structures;

    —  introduced new fares;

    —  assessed options for fleet renewal and potential suppliers of new vehicles;

    —  approached the National Government for a review of the concessionary fares scheme;

    —  assessed and implemented route and network improvements;

    —  commenced surveys of public transport usage (in co-ordination with the EU INPHORMM project);

    —  developed a contractual relationship between the Municipality and Public Transport Company;

    —  identified and assessed options for public transport infrastructure improvements and traffic management measures to give priority for public transport;

    —  completed an initial feasibility assessment for tram/light rail opportunities.

  Some of these actions, of course, need to be developed further and can only be implemented in the longer term. However, it should be recognised that the project has helped provide both the basis and impetus for more lasting impacts.


  The project required the involvement of senior Municipality and Public Transport Company managers. Given their positions and responsibilities, the project on occasions had to compete with other demands for their time. Our partners were also, understandably, keen to progress the higher profile and innovative measures within the project. These aspirations had to be reconciled with the need for short term, "unseen" and more rudimentary improvements to public transport.

  In broader terms, some of the project objectives and recommendations will inevitably be constrained by available finances and resources which will determine the speed of their implementation. Public transport will have to compete with other sections of society for funds. It is also the case that some of the project objectives will prove unpopular with sections of society as was found with the recent fares increases. Car drivers are likely to criticise measures which restrict their movements and many passengers who currently receive free travel will object to paying fares if existing concessionary fares arrangements are reformed. Such moves will be politically sensitive and their longer-term benefits, including environmental gains, will need to be promoted to help off-set criticism. Whether the TACIS environmental objectives can be achieved without the restructuring of public transport, for example, is less clear but there is optimism that a new pragmatic "non western" approach to environmental concerns can be developed in the NIS.


  In Chisinau car ownership is growing rapidly and public transport is in decline as economic and political factors constrain the necessary investment in vehicle renewals and improvements to maintenance and infrastructure. This is likely to be familiar to many other NIS cities and given this it is expected that the Chisinau project could be readily applied elsewhere. In particular, the project evaluated several strategic and operational issues which will be common to other NIS public transport operators including the need for operational efficiency, company restructuring, income generation and reform of fares systems. With moves away from a command economy possibilities also exist for establishing client/contractor relationships between Municipalities and Public Transport Companies. In these aspects the project could act as a model in helping to progress the restructuring of public transport in other NIS cities.


  The project benefitted from political support in both Chisinau and Hampshire. This coupled with the excellent working relationships which were developed provided the foundation for the project to progress. Also by ensuring the involvement of senior personnel from the Municipality and Public Transport Company it is expected that the project will have a sustained impact and greater opportunity for its longer term and strategic recommendations to be implemented.

  The partners quickly recognised the need for the project to evaluate the broad principles and strategic issues affecting public transport in Chisinau. The project had to be adapted to take account of this and with hindsight the project would have been planned with greater emphasis on these matters.


  The project partners are organising a Public Transport Conference in Chisinau for July 1998. The conference would allow for a dissemination of the project results to NIS Municipal and Public Transport Managers. Western European public transport operators and suppliers will also be involved. This will help improve links and business opportunities within the public transport field between the EU and NIS and within the NIS.

  Hampshire County Council is exploring funding possibilities through the British Government's "Know How Fund". This could allow for an extension of the public transport project and help consolidate the partnership. There is also a possibility that Chisinau Municipality may agree to a form of term consultancy where for a small annual fee they will receive advice and information, the County Council's support as a link within UK businesses and ongoing assistance with progressing their public transport reforms.

  With the success of our TACIS project it may prove possible for other Hampshire/Chisinau TACIS projects to be progressed strengthening links by building co-operation in other fields.

Bob Pinkett

Head of Passenger Transport

County Surveyor's Department

1 May 1998

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