“Minibus drivers protesting against being removed from city center stops are threatening to go on strike. This would deprive thousands of people from accessing essential transportation to and from Krakow.
Minibuses, namely passenger-adapted vans, with a capacity of approximately 20 people, are private enterprises providing transport between Krakow and remote villages and even distant cities such as Jaworzno, Olkusz and Chrzanow in the West or Bochnia and Brzesko in the East.
This service is especially handy when it comes to small villages that have no access to public transport options. It is estimated that between 15,000-20,000 people use minibuses servicing Krakow and its surroundings every day. The prices vary from 2.5 to 4 zloty per person, but monthly tickets and different discounts, such as those for students, are valid on the services.
The main disadvantage is overcrowding, and in some cases vehicle standards, however competition between different minibus lines is improving comfort and quality of services.
Recently the Krakow City Council declared its intention to relocate minibus depots from the city center, like the one adjacent to Galeria Krakowska, to an undisclosed location on the city outskirts.
This has infuriated minibus owners, who have threatened to go on strike if the issue is not settled. The strike would mean a lack of transportation for many and paralyze the city, so Krakow’s Road and Transport Administration have taken up negotiations with the minibus line owners. The owners want the underground parking site near the main train station adapted for their minibuses however the municipality is not supportive of the idea.
The issue has raised debate between those for and against the minibus services amongst Krakow’s commuter community. “”Minibuses are essential and there should be more of them. It’s high time somebody organized this form of transport into a fleet with a regular timetable,”” said Agata on forum.gazeta.pl. “”I see what minibuses do every day, and it’s appalling,”” said “”jkmm”” on the same forum.””They don’t respect any rules, park just anywhere and drive overcrowded. Minibuses should be allowed only to reach the city limits, that’s all.””
“”All we want is to regulate traffic growth in the city center,”” said Wit Mirski, spokesman for Krakow’s Road and Transport Administration. “”Negotiations are now in progress.””
Minibus owners have expressed their concerns and needs to the City Council, to which the Council will respond at their next meeting.
Their main proposal involves minibus access through the center along the second internal bypass (the area marked by two-lane roads, such as Aleje, Trzech, Wieszczów), where they could drop off their passengers, and then let them park at external parking depots outside the second bypass.
Minibus owners also suggested reviewing distribution of city entry passes to reduce congestion at city bus stops, as well as an integrated ticketing system across private minibus services and public buses, though this idea seems far off at this stage.