5 good and 5 bad news about Baku’s municipal transport system reform
Let’s start with the good news.
No need to pay ‘real’ money
Baku residents have started paying passenger fares in buses by the uniform payment cards. It’s, first of all, important because now the handful of coins, that a driver received, will no longer float off the budget. Earlier, it was simply impossible to track the real income (and, consequently, the accuracy of tax deductions). Everything is different now.
No more racing
Not that long ago, a trip by Baku municipal transport was far from being safe. Drivers used to organize real fierce races – competing and outrunning each other, trying to fulfill a plan and earn more. Sometimes it ended in human casualties. According to the Traffic Police Department of Baku Police Headquarters, 33 accidents involving buses were reported in the capital in Q1 2015; as a result, 9 people died and 35 were injured. There is no plan now. Consequently, there is no need to organize races. Travelling by bus is much safer now.
Now you need to know where to stop
One could stop a bus anywhere: on the highway, on the bridge and at one’s house entrance. Now it is strictly prohibited for drivers to stop anywhere but the bus stops, since traffic is monitored by CCTV cameras.
Baku residents are pleasantly surprised: it turns out that there is no need to wait for a bus for 15-20 minutes, and, in the late hours, wonder – will another bus arrives or that’s it!The municipal bus schedule is tightly controlled and due to that all buses operate strictly according to the schedule.
Drivers no longer smoke in the cabin! This alone can be regarded as a notable achievement, but that’s not all: all buses have air-conditioning and heating system. The experience of previous reforms shows that any beauty and comfort can be quickly brought to naught, but Baku residents still hope for the best.
But hold on your joy, now we are going to tell you the news that are not so good
Lack of routes
The main disadvantage of the new buses is that they run only on three routes, including one from the city center to the airport. As you know, many routes were eliminated ahead of the Euro Games and this process will continue. They shall be replaced exactly by BakuBus buses. However, it is not clear, why it was necessary first to eliminate routes, and only afterwards start thinking about new ones, even against the background of introduction of comfortable buses.
Routes have become fewer, but people still need to travel everywhere. Many novelties have been introduced and that often leads to confusion. Customary bus numbers are no longer relevant, while the new ones drive so that change of buses becomes inevitable. Passengers are losing their time, money and nerve cells.
Cards – evil
Apparently, many people think so, otherwise all passengers would happily use them – since it’s really comfortable. Not only are the majority of passengers unaware how to do these simple manipulations, but they are also unwilling to learn. What also causes passengers’ discontent, is that a card costs 2 Manats (about US$2). Therefore, many prefer to pay a passenger fare the same old way – offering a passenger with a card 20 gyapik coins and asking to pay for them.
According to the rules, one should enter a bus through the front door, pay immediately and leave though the rear door. This scheme may work in the daytime, but during the rush hours it results in a real fight without rules: passengers, tired of waiting for a bus, are trying to force into any door. Driver’s edifications are ignored, drivers boil, people start bickering and jostling, there is a complete mess. Besides, the rate of fare-dodger passengers is unknown. Another snag is that there is only one payment terminal in the whole bus and it’s not that easy to hew a passage through a crowd in rush hours without losses.
Lack of Skilled Drivers
There is already lack of them now, when there are just a few new routes. Azerbaijani segment of Facebook is already full of posts about drivers, who can’t remember where to stop the bus, some of them smoke while working, others violate traffic rules.