As the Deputy Mayor for Transport, how important is the mobility plan in the whole process of planning and developing the Prague transport system?
I believe the mobility plan is the most important document. It helps me make decisions on the basis of properly examined factors pertaining to the future of transport projects in Prague. I am very grateful for the hard work that has been put into it, because it is a document that simply provides a clear vision of the future of Prague transport. It is clear it was drawn up by an excellent team made up of experts across a broad range of fields, from the Ministry of Transport and the Central Bohemian Region, to our municipal organisations and departments. These individuals have helped me to draw up, for example, an investment budget, making it possible for me to make decisions based on the purpose and importance of a project. This differs from the past when everyone was trying to promote their own agenda.
How will its results be implemented?
Implementation is already underway. Even though the SEA has still not been completed, we are already working closely with the team and, for example, we have already drawn up the annual budget, as the majority of the principal projects are already included the mobility plan. And if a new project is not there, we can look to see if it is stated in the Transport Policy. So, implementation is already underway even though P+ is not in its final form. Moreover, the team that created the mobility plan is helping me with the financing of the projects, that is, helping me to figure out which aid programmes can be used to help fund specific transport projects.
What things in P+ do you like the most? Local construction projects, major transport projects that impact whole areas or promotion of specific parts of the concept, such as cycling?
I have no preference for a specific area. What is important to me is the effectiveness of each project, and decisions have to made in each area with regard to the benefits to the city. Major, long-term projects, such as Metro D, the City Ring Road and the Prague Ring Road, and even the short-term ones, such as telematics projects, are essentially a mix of measures that will lead to overall improvement and sustainability of mobility. We, therefore, do not focus on only one type. Everyone see importance in something else. Most topics have one thing in common, however: neglected infrastructure. We cannot focus only on new projects; we have to repair existing infrastructure. We are already working to remedy the situation.
In addition to P+, what else would you like to see implemented in Prague?
The condition of the bridges in Prague concerns us the most. Analyses show that they are in poor condition. Furthermore, the mobility plan shows that CZK 33 billion has to be invested in repairing neglected infrastructure. This amount includes other types of transport infrastructure, but bridges are the top priority, because a bridge that is nearing the end of its life span and is about to fall is certainly a greater problem than a street with a few potholes. By saying that, however, I am in no way belittling the problematic condition of the streets.
Are you in agreement with the priorities of your coalition partners, or are you going to have to back down on certain things?
During coalition negotiations, we brought the mobility plan with us and agreed to follow it. So, a clear agreement was reached across the coalition. This topic also overlaps into spatial development, and we share the same opinion and vision here as well.
How far away do you think completion of metro D and the City Ring Road is according to your latest timetables?
The Prague Ring Road is often the subject of meetings with Prime Minister Babiš and Minister Ťok. It is an issue of national importance, and both the ministry and the government have completion of the ring road as a goal. As regards the City Ring Road, we are making preparations for the spatial-planning decision. It is a very costly investment that Prague does not have the means for, so we will need financial assistance. This applies to metro D as well. This project required the City Council come to an agreement with the landowners, so in terms of proprietary issues, the entire first stage will soon be behind us.
What is the added value of your transport work team in comparison with prior representatives?
What is important is that the team comprises experts and I can turn to them directly. I do so, and I must say this was not an option before. I am also communicating with all municipal organisations and officials - we deal with projects together as a team. If there is to be a change, I know about it in advance. We are building a very close relationship and, in my opinion, that is very important. I believe these professionals have been waiting for this approach, because they possess the knowledge and have contributed significantly to the city’s development.
Do you believe City Hall feels transport to be a priority, or do some representatives tend to put this issue on the backburner? If so, what other topics resonate through City Hall?
Fortunately, transport is discussed intensively, as it is one of the most important issues. We deal with traffic and transport every day, regardless of how we travel. When I speak with people from municipal organisations, I of course mention to them that each decision they make impacts the lives of people in Prague. So, this topic is of prime importance.
What is your opinion on transport projects in terms of budgetary constraints? Do you feel that operational and investment outlays in transport or other budget headings are a problem? Are you searching for funding from sources outside Prague’s budget?
I personally attend meetings at the State Transport Infrastructure Fund, as Prague did not utilise it to the degree it could have. The city made use of only one programme out of the four available. Now I check all managers to make sure they are making use of their possibilities and powers. I am therefore not relying solely on our budget, but am using European Union funds as well. For metro D, we have to set a budget strategy, i.e., where and how to obtain funding. This has to be dealt with certainly five, ideally fifteen, years in advance, an approach that had previously not been taken.
In conclusion, what would you like to say to the citizens of Prague and visitors to the city?
Several projects are about to start. I understand that it will make day-to-day life unpleasant and difficult. After the repairs, however, everything will function better than before. This year we will be reconstructing Vinohradská and Českobrodská streets, so I ask you to be understanding and come to terms with these restrictions, as they will lead to greater comfort and convenience when moving through the city. We will also be executing new projects, too, of course. In addition to metro D and the ring road, my goal is to build a tram line on Wenceslas Square, a footbridge from Holešovice to Karlín, and Dvorecký bridge.