Budapest, August 25 (MTI) – The municipal council of Budapest is expected to sign a contract in late September or early October on leasing buses for replacement services for metro line 3 while it is being renovated.
The related proposal was submitted by two deputy mayors and the Budapest assembly will debate it next Wednesday.
The Budapest transport authority (BKK) invited public bids for the project on July 12. A contract is expected to be signed unless an appeal is launched.
The winning bidder must start preparations quickly. A municipal decree is therefore needed to ensure financing for the project. Without the decree further delays are inevitable, the deputy mayors said.
Budapest Mayor István Tarlós earlier this year asked the government to cover the extra cost of contracting bus services instead of buying buses.
Whereas the government initially said Budapest should buy Hungarian-made buses for the replacement route, as this would dovetail with its strategy to create a national bus industry, it has since agreed to cover the costs of leasing the 150 buses in question.
At a press briefing today, government office chief János Lázár said the revamp of the third metro line would definitely not start this year because a public procurement tender that needs to be invited by the metropolitan council has not even been published. Even if it is published now, work cannot start before next spring, he added. Commenting on the possibility of introducing a congestion charge for Budapest, he said the government maintained that this would be undesirable.
In response, Tarlós told commercial broadcaster Hír TV that the debacle over the renovation of the metro line was not the fault of the Budapest municipality but the government was to blame. He said the government should be responsible for keeping negotiations on track. “It is incapable of concluding an agreement, and it is for this reason that the process has stalled,” the mayor said, adding that there were “serious political risks involved”.