24.hu reports that the capital is going to centralize the market of the sightseeing buses: from next year on there will be only one company offering vehicles to take the tourists around the sights. The submission of the plan went on rather discreetly, it was discussed at a closed session.
According to the site, 6 firms are responsible for operating the popular sightseeing buses currently, however, this will be changed: the city council of Budapest made the decision to give the right of operation to only one company. The proposal was voted for by the majority, therefore, from the 1st of January, 2017, only one company or consortium, chosen through a concession process, will be able to carry out the activity, and the right of concession will be valid for 20 years.
Currently, the 6 companies operate about 55 buses, mainly obsolete ones, and 4 of them work on the hop-on hop-off basis, which means that the tourists can join or leave anywhere in the city. These 4 companies’ turnover is 1.5 billion HUF altogether, of which 56 million HUF are paid annually to BKK (Budapest Public Transport) for being able to use the bus stops. Further 8-10 million HUF are paid by them to the capital and the districts for the use of public areas.
But the city would like to avoid the competition between several companies, thus the concession – based on financial and transportation factors – will put only one company in charge. The applicants should be private companies limited by shares, and have to undertake the operation of at least 25 buses that work accordingly to the environmentally friendly rules, from spring to autumn. The technical conditions are not known yet, they were still missing from the submission, writes 24.hu.
The charge of the concession would be a fix amount, and also, a sum will have to be paid for each bus over the minimum of 25 buses. Though, the subjective factors are somewhat stronger than the numbers, as in the process of concession the suggested charges would only have a 40% effect on the decision, the remaining 60% will be based on the business plan and the professional concept. Furthermore, the winning company will have to guarantee that the rules of the brand – e.g. employees wearing uniforms – are kept.
Also, the site writes that the submission is not that surprising, for earlier hvg.hu had reported that the government was planning to take control of tourism through a new, strongly centralized state institution. That plan included the establishment of a central organization to develop tourism in Budapest, which, among its own profits, could have benefited from the operation of its own hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses. However, the plan has been modified by giving the activity as concession away instead of creating a new firm.
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