Budapest, January 8 (MTI) – Public transport services to the agglomeration areas of Budapest are sure to operate until February 17, when the city’s new municipal budget is scheduled for approval, Mayor of Budapest Istvan Tarlos, said.
In talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orban in December last year it was agreed that Budapest has no obligation to finance transport in the agglomeration area, Tarlos told a press conference. However, the meeting with Orban “brought much less result than I had hoped for”, Tarlos said.
On the subject of Budapest’s 2016 budget, Tarlos said current estimates projected an operating deficit of 12 billion forints (EUR 38m), of which the cost of operating the public transport service in the agglomeration made up 10 billion forints. Tarlos said a budget cannot be planned with any operating deficit and added that there is zero funding available for any extra tasks taken on voluntarily, without going into details.
Regarding an earlier agreement between the Budapest Transport Centre (BKK) and the economy ministry, Tarlos said the ministry had not transferred “a single forint” to BKK in 2015 for agglomeration transport costs, and that BKK had sent a notice regarding this matter to the ministry. He said the ministry had 15 days to find a solution to the problem.
In response to a question Tarlos said he did not rule out running for re-election as mayor for his third term in 2019.
The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said Tarlos’s press conference had been “useless” for Budapesters, as there was no information provided on the situation of public transport company BKV or the financing of community transport services in the agglomeration area. Tarlos did not say anything about how the 20-billion-forint hole in the budget would be plugged, Erzsebet Gy Nemeth, councillor for DK in the Budapest Assembly, said in a statement. She said she advised Tarlos against running in the mayoral race again.
The opposition Egyutt party said it is unacceptable that Tarlos “wants to stop public transport services to the agglomeration after Feb 17” and added that it is the mayor himself who should lead protest against financing problems. Marton Pataki, head of Egyutt’s Budapest chapter, said it was clear that there had not been any agreement reached between the central government and Budapest about the financing of agglomeration transport and that the December meeting between Orban and Tarlos was “completely fruitless”. Tarlos should resign if he cannot do his job instead of mulling running for re-election, Pataki said.
The Jobbik party said the comments of the mayor and the prime minister on public transport funding in recent months have “raised more questions than the answers they provided”. The party said in a statement that the two politicians have left Budapest residents and people who work in the capital facing uncertainty. Jobbik said the mayor and the prime minister should be working to make sure that the hundreds of thousands of people living in and around Budapest can get to work and school comfortably and safely.