THE FIRST statistics obtained by state-owned rail passenger carrier ŽSSK show that Prime Minister Robert Fico’s expectations regarding the introduction of free train transport for students and pensioners have been met, as the number of passengers using trains has risen by more than 20 percent year-on-year in the past month, the Sme daily reported on December 22.
As of November 17, children under the age of 15 and full-time students under the age of 26, people over 62 and all recipients of pensions are eligible for free travel using the national railways.
“The average number of passengers since November 17 has seen real growth,” confirmed ŽSSK spokeswoman Jana Morháčová, as quoted by Sme.
State-owned trains have transported more than 3.6 million people over the past month. Meanwhile, concerns voiced by bus carriers that they would lose up to 8 percent of their passengers in the wake of the government’s measure have not materialised. According to the available data, only 2 percent of passengers have stopped using buses in the past month.
“The numbers are better than estimated at the moment,” said Bus Transport Association President Peter Pobeha, as quoted by Sme. “We’ll monitor developments and see what the next few months will bring.”
Bus carriers still consider free rail transport to be a bad measure.
“Everywhere in the world, buses are cheaper than trains. Only in poor Slovakia is it the other way round,” said Jozef Kičura, general director of Prešov bus carrier company, as quoted by Sme.
Buses have one important advantage over trains as they service a significantly greater number of villages, according to him.
Compiled by Roman Cuprik from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
23. Dec 2014 at 14:00