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Transport system still a major concern

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, December 24
Zaza Gabunia a member of the Christian-Democrats faction discussed the transport system collapse at a briefing at the Tbilisi City Council on December 23. Speaking about the predictions made by the faction before launching the changes within the municipal transport system, Gabunia suggested adding at least one bus to each line to facilitate the difficult conditions throughout the capital. “Tbilisi City Hall has all the necessary tools to deal with the existing problem which would ensure more mobile and intensive timetable for the buses,” Gabunia said releasing the video materials provided by Palitra-TV on the increasingly difficult traffic within our capital.

Chairman of Property Management and Finance-Budget Commission Tamaz Shoshiashvili promised that the number of buses would be increased in the case of necessity. While talking about the success of the first stage of changes, Shoshiashvili stressed that the process of arranging the lines which has caused particular incomprehensibility has been quite harmless. “All these processes will be regulated. Tbilisi City Hall along with the relevant civil services continues to eradicate existing problems. Several buses have already been added to particular lines and the others will also be added in case of necessity,” Shoshiashvili told the media adding that when the Municipal transport reforms end in February, 2011 traffic would be improved in the capital.

According to the Property Management and Finance-Budget Commission Chairman, there are 92 lines with 477 buses in Tbilisi while the number of minibuses (marshrutkas) is 2200. As Shoshiashvili told the media tender about the marshrutkas was announced on December 7 to reveal the companies interested in offering their services until January 14, 2011. City Hall will then be able to provide the capital by 300 additional marshrutkas.

On the same day the Labor Party appealed to drivers of minibuses to organize a mass strike. Party member Kakha Dzagania said that the marshrutka business is controlled by the Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava in times of total unemployment. “Ugulava will promote coordinators successful in falsification to ensure their participation in a “roundabout” at the local elections, thus lots of people will remain unemployed,” Dzagania said while encouraging the representatives of marshrutka business to protect their interests and rights.

People have really suffered from the reduction of buses and they are constantly worrying about the increasing tariffs for tickets as well. “The existing situation is terrible in Tbilisi. The Government claims that they desire a safe environment relevant to international standards, but it takes so much time and money to move from one place to another by bus that it is not worth it. It is better for me to use my own car but what about those who don’t have one?” Keti, a lawyer told The Messenger. She worried that the main problem for Georgia is that we waste money without considering the loss of time.

Approving the idea of protecting the environment, 24-year-old Giorgi from a local NGO spoke about the various problems caused by transport reduction. “It is so difficult to make up the time lost while waiting for relevant buses then, trying to get into the overloaded transport and be on time to your destination. All such attempts generally end up with hiring taxis but can everyone afford it?” Giorgi said advising the authorities to decrease additional expenses [spent on different PR campaigns] thus avoid the increase of tariffs. “I think it’s a very serious issue which is worth our Government’s attention. Social advantages are not enough; half of the capital is being given social advantages at the expense of those who are working from early morning till late at night. That’s not fair!” Giorgi told us.

Students and pensioners have the same fixed tariffs (20 tetris) on tickets but they still worry about the abolition of particular buses within the capital. Most people have become used to the idea of using marshrutkas (which have the same price as buses) in such circumstances rather than wasting time at the bus station and becoming irritated.