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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure BG-2023-5/3064 – measures in Bulgaria

Support for public transport for children, students and pensioners

Подкрепа на услугата обществен транспорт в цялата страна

Country Bulgaria , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 01 February 2023 – 31 December 2023
Context War in Ukraine, Green Transition, Cost of Living Crisis
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Promoting the economic, labour market and social recovery into a green future
– Sustainable mobility
Author Ekaterina Markova (IPS-Bas) and Eurofound
Measure added 17 February 2023 (updated 07 November 2023)

Background information

The Council of Ministers approved an additional BGN 73 million to support public transport services across the country. This measure aims to counter inflation and support vulnerable groups. Compensation has been approved for so-called unprofitable lines of all public and urban transport in the country. Also, specific groups will be eligible for reduced public transportation rates. The Minister of Transport and Communications Hristo Alexiev announced that as of 1 February 2023 the public transportation benefits will be enacted.

Content of measure

From 1 February 2023 until the end of the year all children up to the age of 10 will travel for free on public transport. Previously, only children up to the age of seven were entitled to travel free of charge on intra-city and inter-city transport. Furthermore, the discount for schoolchildren will increase from 20% to 70% and the discount for elderly people will increase from 20% to 40%.

On a monthly basis, the carriers will submit an inventory of the value of the season tickets for children under 10 years of age to the local government, who will submit to the state government. They will also report the discounts for students and seniors reflected in the season cards for the main city lines and in long-distance tickets.

In Sofia, for example, annual student cards have been introduced with a price of BGN 200. If Sofia municipality does not decide to change its policy, the cards for pensioners should also become completely free of charge.

Another BGN 27 million will be allocated to subsidise unprofitable inter-city transport lines. The money was provided by an extraordinary transfer for anti-inflationary measures at the end of 2022.

Municipalities should revise the prices of the relevant transport documents. Monthly cards should be easily revised, however it is not clear how annual cards can reflect the changes.

Use of measure

BGN 73 million was approved by the Council of Ministers in January 2023 to support the public transport service. It is unknown how this budget was specifically allocated.

The Ministry of Finance publishes the indicative distribution of subsidies for intra-urban and inter-urban passenger transport and compensation for free and reduced-price road transport journeys for 2023, as well as quarterly updated distribution. The overall budget for 2023 is BGN 367 million (EUR 187,644,120), of which BGN 36 million (EUR 18,406,508) are devoted to free public transport for children up to 10 years of age. For students the transport subsidy is BGN 43 million (EUR 21,985,551) and BGN 56,400 million (EUR 28,836,862) are distributed to support the public transport cards for persons who receive pension.

The report for budget spending is expected to be published at the beginning of 2024.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Does not apply to businesses Children (minors)
Pensioners
Students

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Local / regional government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Unknown Unknown
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown

Involvement

There is no public information about social partners involvement in the adoption and implementation of this measure.

Views and reactions

The trade unions (Confederation of Labour (CL) Podkrepa) insisted in April 2022 that public transport should be free and financed by state and municipal budgets.

Targeted financial support from the state is needed for public transport in Bulgaria due to the COVID-19 crisis and the rising prices of energy carriers and fuels in the last few months, according to the Union of Transport Trade Unions in Bulgaria (STSB).

Sources

  • 06 January 2022: State support for public transport in our country was requested by trade unionists at a congress in Budapest (www.bta.bg)
  • 12 April 2022: Confederation of Labour "Podkrepa": Public urban transport should become free (bnr.bg)
  • 24 January 2023: The effective strike of the capital's public transport is postponed (news.bg)
  • 25 January 2023: From February 1: Free public transport for children up to 10 years old, discounts for students and pensioners (dariknews.bg)
  • 25 January 2023: Prime Minister Donev: We provide an additional 73 million BGN to support the public transport service throughout the country (www.gov.bg)
  • 25 January 2023: Decree No. 10 of January 25, 2023 amending and supplementing normative acts of the Council of Ministers (dv.parliament.bg)
  • 25 January 2023: The government approved BGN 73 million to support public transport (darik.bg)
  • 27 January 2023: The decree on free transport for children up to 10 years old (bnr.bg)
  • 01 February 2023: Subsidies for intra-urban and inter-urban passenger transport and compensation for free and reduced-price road transport journeys: (www.minfin.bg)

Citation

Eurofound (2023), Support for public transport for children, students and pensioners, measure BG-2023-5/3064 (measures in Bulgaria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, https://static.eurofound.europa.eu/covid19db/cases/BG-2023-5_3064.html

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