Photo: MTI

Karacsony: Government plans ‘to take Budapest transport back to Middle Ages’

Government plans to discontinue the validity of Budapest passes on services of state railways MAV, national coach company Volan and the suburban railways HEV from next year "would take Budapest transport back to the level of the Middle Ages", the city's mayor said on Thursday.

Gergely Karacsony told an online press briefing that the government should discard its plan and preserve the integrated transport system which had served suburban residents well for the past 20 years.

At least half a million people would get poorer but dearer services if government plans were implemented, he said, adding that operating the public transport system would still cost taxpayers the same.

He said the plan was “incomprehensible” and expressed hope that transport ministry officials would come back to the negotiating table.

“If they cannot help, they should at least not make things worse,” he said, noting that the HEV lines and trains had not been renovated since the service was nationalised in 2016, “MAV is in crisis throughout the country” and cancellations in Volan services “are making transport more difficult for residents in central Hungary”.

He also said that while the government was introducing a law to protect national sovereignty, it was holding consultations with Arab investors concerning the development of the valuable Rakosrendezo area of Budapest instead of discussing plans with the city leaders before looking for investors.

The ruling Fidesz party’s Budapest group said on Facebook that the mayor owed 2.175 billion forints (EUR 5.7m) for maintaining the Budapest pass. “Services are sooner or later switched off for those who fail to pay,” it said. “It works like this everywhere around the world,” it added. “Had they not distributed Budapest residents’ money among their friends”, bringing the capital to bankruptcy, they would now have enough to pay the bills,” the Fidesz group said.

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