Rīga plans to transform public transport system over next five years

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Latvia's EU Recovery and Resilience facility provides €300 million for the modernization of the public transport system in Rīga and its surrounding area, but exact plans are still somewhat unclear according to opposition councilors, Latvian Radio reported July 26.

Of the €1.8 billion plan of the Latvian Recovery and Resilience facility, nearly a fifth, or about €300 million, is designed to modernize and make the capital's traffic system less environmentally harmful. One of the biggest investments will be to make connections between passenger train services and other public transport more convenient.

Riga City Council Vice Mayor Vilnis Ķirsis (New Unity) said that the railway network is currently not connected to public transport in the capital: “This is why we cannot expect public transport to be used, for example, by a commuter who wants to come to Riga and move around. Mobility points or connection points are planned directly from the passenger train to public transport. For example, come to the Zemitāni station, get out of the train, take the escalator up to the Zemitāni Bridge, and go on with Rīga public transport.”

It is also planned to set up a metrobus (rapid transit) line, along which an independent, environmentally-friendly transport service would run. The route is intended from Zemitāni to Dreiliņi. To connect suburbs and the center, it is planned to build several bicycle lanes. These works, as well as purchasing battery-powered trains, are scheduled to be carried out by 2026..

Andris Morozovs, deputy of the opposition faction Harmony, said that there is very little information on how precisely the €300 million will be spent on improving the traffic system. "This shows a poor attitude toward money. There will be a lot of money coming in at once, but there is no capacity to make good use of that money. This year shows that nothing is improving yet, but only deteriorating," Morozovs said.

In his opinion, many other jobs need to be completed before the improvement of the traffic system. One of them is the run-down bridges, which cause people a lot of inconveniences.

The City Council coalition agreed that many problems should be addressed in the capital, but also pointed out that most of them were inherited from the previous management of the City Council. Ķirsis said that the renewal of several traffic-related bridges would have to rely on local government funds, as European co-financing could not be obtained.


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