Photo: MTI

Karacsony: Community gives Budapest strength

Community endows Budapest with its strength, not the city's administration alone, Gergely Karacsony, the city's mayor, said on Saturday, summing up the municipality's past years and future plans in a speech.

“Budapest is extremely strong … because the city is a community,” he said. “To move forward, the city leadership must harness the power of the community.”

The people of Budapest, he said, were “boss”, and his administration would not forget that if they won a new mandate from Budapesters to lead the city again.

Referring to the “crises” of the past few years such as the pandemic, the energy crisis and “government cuts”, he said it was “a hugely serious political achievement that we are sitting here now”, able to plan ahead and operate the capital in tough circumstances.

The mayor insisted that the capital had managed the pandemic well and that Budapest had been ahead of the government in managing Covid, adding that the death rate in facilities such as care homes operated by the capital was 50 percent below that in those run by the state. Also, measures to protect the homeless “were among the best” in Europe, he added.

Regarding energy, the “Budapest model”, he said, was “working”, and the budget had saved 70 billion forints by buying energy at the daily spot rate.

“Government austerity”, Karacsony said, was “the third crisis”, insisting that the government had stripped Budapest of 227 billion forints in four years in an attempt to “bring the capital to its knees”.

Altogether, the various crises had cost Budapest 358 billion forints, he said.

On the topic of protected bicycle lanes in the capital, he said disputes on the subject were political in nature, adding that he was “proud” to have made travel safer in Budapest.

The metropolitan leadership’s safety strategy goal is to ensure that no one dies in a traffic accident in Budapest by 2050. Further, the Budapest Mobility Plan adopted in 2019 aims for motor vehicle traffic to be halved in 15 years while increasing bicycle traffic fivefold. The idea, he added, was to reduce traffic not eliminate it.

Karacsony said the most extensive programme to replace public transport vehicles was under way, with 285 new buses introduced to the capital in the past year alone.

Also, the third metro line has been renovated, which he termed a “joint success of the country as a whole, of the previous and current city administration, the government and the European Union.”

Noting an EU study, the mayor said there were now fewer traffic jams in Budapest than in 2019.

Fully 33,000 new trees have been planted in the city, he said, adding however that Budapest’s resilience to climate change must be strengthened.

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