Bratislava bus chaos almost over

Operator Arriva promises normal timetable by end of March.

Regional bus tansport is almost back to normal in the Bratislava region.Regional bus tansport is almost back to normal in the Bratislava region. (Source: SME - Marko Erd)

Bus company Arriva, which has been operating regional bus transport in the Bratislava Self-governing Region since mid-November last year, has said initial problems with its service have been largely resolved. It said that as of February, 98 to 100 percent of scheduled bus lines are running, and it therefore does not expect further fines from the Bratislava Self-governing region (BSK).

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“We have met our promise, i.e. that the situation would be resolved over the course of March,” said László Ivan, general director of Arriva companies in Slovakia, as cited by the TASR newswire. “By the end of March we will be able to eliminate even small shortages and completely stabilise the system.”

The company also does not anticipate any more fines. It has so far incurred around €1.1 million in penalties for failing to send out buses.

But Ivan is not ruling out minor problems in future, for example due to driver illness, but passengers in the Bratislava region should not feel these as acutely as in recent months.

Within the Bratislava region, Arriva is also continuing to renew its fleet; more than 60 new buses should arrive by May. The fleet should be renewed by the middle of the year, with more than 200 buses in total running in the region.

Arriva will stop using external companies to ensure its services after the end of March and says it not only has enough of its own buses, but also drivers. However, it also has additional drivers contracted to ensure it can provide cover if needed. The vast majority are drivers from the Bratislava region, but others are from further afield.

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“We have about 20 to 25 people from Ukraine and Georgia,” said Ivan.

The company is currently unable to contract more due to the situation in Ukraine.

Arriva took over the provision of suburban bus transport in the Bratislava region for the next 10 years in mid-November 2021, replacing Slovak Lines after it won a €330 million contract. However, there were immediate problems with driver shortages and many buses in scheduled routes did not run, especially in the Pezinok and Senec areas. The company gave repeated assurances it would solve the problem. As compensation, passengers were allowed to travel free of charge in January and February. As of March 1, passengers must buy tickets before travelling.

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