Public transport in Poland – the reality and prospects

25 February 2016  •  Author(s): Adam Karolak, President of the Chamber of Urban Transport (IGKM)

Recent years in the urban transport sector in Poland were characterised by large investment projects and purchases of bus fleets and tram rolling stock. However, the overall number of passengers decreased slightly, which is in contrast with high funds allocated annually for transport investments. As it turns out, they do not guarantee a systematic increase in passenger numbers in the country. Adam Karolak, President of the Chamber of Urban Transport (IGKM) describes the situation of public transport in Poland, emphasising the role of EU funds and organisational activities that can attract new passengers.

Public transport in Poland – the reality and prospects

The public transport situation in Poland

Urban transport represents the major part of passenger transport in Poland in terms of passenger numbers. It exists in about 260 cities and municipalities inhabited by 17 million people. Urban transport enterprises carry in the region of 3.7 billion passengers annually, which represents approximately 80% of the total number of passengers in the public transport sector. In towns and cities, bus services are the main form of urban transport. They are provided mainly by municipal operators operating a total of around 11,500 buses. Tram systems exist in 15 cities with a total number of 3,342 trams running along 2,342km of tracks. Trolleybus systems operate in three cities: Lublin, Gdynia and Tychy. Together, these cities have 215 trolleybuses and approximately 180km of traction. The only existing metro system in Warsaw consists of two underground lines with 28 stations, and a total length of 29.2km.

In Warsaw, the share of travel by public transport is nearly 60%, which ranks the capital of Poland quite highly among major European cities.

As shown in Graph 1 on page 60, the period of transformation began in 1990 which led to a significant decline in passenger numbers. It was also a period of organisational and financial collapse of public transport, which lasted roughly until 1994. While in subsequent years the reconstruction and strengthening of public transport was observed, it has not resulted, however, in a general increase in passenger traffic, which in the whole country (with the exception of the largest cities) is continuing to fall…

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