Public transport system in Prague

23 June 2006  •  Author(s): Tomásv Jilek, General Manager, Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy, a.s

Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is a political, economic and tourist centre of both national and international importance. Its administrative borders cover an area of 496km2 with approx. 1,181,000 inhabitants and almost 780,000 job opportunities. At the same time, Prague is the centre of the Central Bohemian Region with additional 500,000 inhabitants, with close links to its territory. As in other big cities, Prague’s public transport system (hereinafter referred to as the ‘PT system’) plays an important role in ensuring basic functions of the city. The PT system in Prague has been gaining in importance with a gradual extension of the metropolitan territory and related development of new points of departures and destinations, mostly located further from the city centre. This involved mainly densely populated housing estates and production facilities. Developments after 1989, associated with liquidation or diversification of large production facilities, strengthening of the tertiary sphere and a slower pace of housing development, resulted in the modification of PT requirements. Requirements associated with the quality of the transport process have thus gained in importance.

In connection to an enormous increase in car ownership levels in the 1990s a decisive benefit of PT was given, by its function as an effective instrument to regulate private car traffic – the scope and pace of which in Prague was absolutely unprecedented compared to other cities. Naturally, this led to a critical worsening of traffic conditions, particularly in central parts of the city. Apart from the development of an appropriate road network system, the solution of this unfavourable situation involves particularly increasing the level of PT and maintaining its high share in the total modal split in Prague. In spite of a drop resulting from developments in the 1990s (in 1990 this share was about 73%), this share is currently about 57%, which is highly appreciated by transport experts. Naturally, it has been increasingly difficult for the PT system in Prague to compete with private cars. Given the extreme increase in private car ownership level and multiple increases in fares – which were absolutely necessary because of the continuous growth in operating costs – public transport must offer better quality services. Given the historic nature, diversified territorial arrangement and multiple functions of the city of Prague, a success can be achieved only through a gradual fulfilment of a clearly defined transport policy. The key principles of such policy contained particularly in the City Transport Policy Principles and the Strategic Plan of the Capital City of Prague, include the following:

  • to plan and manage the operation and development of the transport infrastructure in Prague as a system;
  • to develop the transport system in harmony with residential development ;
  • to design, plan and manage transport infrastructure as a global system for all transport modes which have to co-operate rationally;
  • to create conditions to service the city centre in order to meet a decisive part of public transport requirements and efficiently regulate car traffic;
  • to develop the transport system not only in terms of transport capacity but also with a great focus on safety and sufficient quality of transport;
  • to prefer environmentally friendly transport systems;
  • to ensure mobility and/or barrier-free access to transport services for people with impaired mobility and orientation ability;
  • to provide comprehensive transport information as much as possible.

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