Citizens of Skopje prefer eco-friendly buses rather than a tram

Citizens of Skopje prefer eco-friendly buses rather than a tram
Despite the impression that the citizens of Skopje are largely using cars as main means of transport, a survey carried out by Brima Gallup for the needs of Nezavisen Vesnik/Independent daily newspaper found that most of them, or over two-thirds, mostly use public transportation for their daily trip to work or for other type of daily activity. According to these data, although retirees have the right to free bus rides four days a week, including the weekend, young people are still the ones that use public transportation more in Skopje because they travel several times a day. As for the idea of the possible expansion of public transportation by tram or metro, Skopje citizens are skeptical and instead of "rails", they prefer to ride buses, but want them to be more environmentally friendly - hybrid, electronic or running on gas.

Regarding what type of transportation is most commonly used for daily activities, 68% of the respondents pointed to public transportation, cars come in second place with 47%, and the third place on the pedestal belongs to walking (33%) while cycling seems to be the least popular. This shows how hard it is for citizens to change their habits, in spite of the increased campaigns, the measures for subsidizing bicycles, as well as the increase in the mileage of cycling routes, as this transportation vehicle participates with a much smaller part - only 11 percent.

Regardless of the fact that busses are winning the gold medal, another component in the survey shows that the car keys are quite difficult to leave behind. Namely, as many as 61% of the respondents think that replacing cars with public transportation would not contribute very much (or would not contribute at all) to reducing air pollution. One quarter of them believe that it would contribute to some extent, and only 12 percent believe it would contribute a lot. It is obvious that those who regularly and frequently use public transportation believe that replacing cars with buses is a factor that would contribute to reducing air pollution. In contrast, those who rarely use public transportation believe that transport is not the real pollutant.

Citizens are obviously more prone to being inclined to use only one vehicle (54 percent), while the remaining 46 percent use combined transportation. The most common combination is bus and walking, or bus and car. Cycling is missing here as well.

The survey shows that the population between the age of 25 and 54 more often prefers car use than students and retirees for whom buses are the most common choice. Almost two thirds or 64 percent of people over 65 years of age use public transportation once or twice a week or several times a month. It is a demographic age group that most often uses public transport for due to health reasons or grocery shopping. While 54 percent of those between 18 and 24 years of age use public transport every day or several times a day and are a demographic age group that most often uses the bus as a means of transportation to university, school, work and entertainment and cultural events - theater, cinema, shopping centers, sporting events, concerts, etc.

One third of the residents of Skopje use public transportation less than once a month, or don’t use public transportation at all. The reason for this, according to their replies, is that they prefer cars. (44 percent).

According to this third of citizens, their "motorized pet", helps them more effectively and quickly complete their tasks during the day, as well as to go to places that are at a greater distance. Other reasons besides health (12%), as they say, can be found in the anomalies of public transportation. There is some dissatisfaction with the introduction of the new payment method - bus cards (six percent). Crowdedness and tardiness, however, discourage seven percent of respondents from using bus transportation, and poor connectivity and lack of sufficient bus lines are detected as a problem by three percent of respondents. Seven percent of the few options offered said they did not need to ride public transportation, and eight percent said they don’t use it because they live close by.

"Unlike women, men prefer cars over public transportation due to the efficiency and speed in carrying out their daily tasks. However, respondents that have health reasons are a factor due to which they avoid using public transportation, are mostly women,” notes Brima Gallup.

The citizens of Skopje are moderate when assessing the quality of public transportation, in contrast to the clearly expressed dissatisfaction with the conditions for using bicycles. Almost half of the respondents (48 percent) rated the public transport with an average grade as good, 24 percent gave a positive rating (very good - 19 percent, excellent - 5 percent) and in a somewhat smaller proportion 21 percent awarded a negative assessment (bad - 15 percent, very bad - 6 percent).

When asked what would contribute to the frequent use of public transportation, the citizens cited the more frequent agenda of the buses (56%) as a priority. Many are bothered by the lack of hygiene (44 percent), next in line is the price of the ticket (38 percent), the accuracy of the arrival of buses and the introduction of more lines (36 percent). Meanwhile, new environmentally friendly vehicles would be the motive for 30 percent of respondents to use public transportation more often.

"Although these conditions are mentioned as the most important regardless of the frequency of using public transportation, however, the respondents who use this type of transportation more than a few times a month emphasize to a much greater extent those who use it only a few times a year, or in general. For respondents who use suburban lines to a much greater extent than users of city- based lines it is important to have a more frequent agenda, cheaper bus tickets and timely arrival. While those who use city lines largely emphasize the need for new environmentally friendly vehicles," explains Brima Gallup.

The idea for a tram in Skopje was revived three or four months ago. City authorities announced this capital project, for which, as they said, they prepared a complete traffic study with a technical solution. Namely, the study envisages the construction of the first phase of the route for the tram line on the Novo Lisice - Gjorce Petrov route. The implementation will start as early as next year, and the project will cost between 130 and 150 million euros. The expectations of the authorities are that it will advance public transportation in the capital and will affect the reduction of air pollution. Brima Gallup's survey, however, shows that citizens prefer more eco-friendly buses (hybrid, electronic, gas) rather than railroad public transportation as a tram (28 percent) or a metro (13 percent). Eleven percent, however, reported that they were happy with the current public transportation.

"The respondents who stated that they use public transportation every day or almost every day believe that the City of Skopje needs new eco-friendly vehicles, while those who stated that they use it once or twice a week are the main supporters of the tram-building plan. Women prefer eco-friendly buses in a much higher percentage than men, while men believe more than women that Skopje needs a tram," says Brima Gallup.

The analysis is based on results from a telephone survey conducted between February 28 and March 4, 2019 on a quota sample representative of the population over 18 years of age on the territory of the City of Skopje. The sample is divided into ten municipalities, by sex, age, ethnicity and place of residence (city / village). The survey covered 511 respondents. The marginal error of the sample is +/- 4.3 percent at a confidence level of 95 percent.

(NK - BB)