Rail co to save bus lines: official

Polish rail firm PKP may step in to save ailing local PKS bus companies, according to Deputy State Assets Minister Janusz Kowalski, discussing ways of saving the bus services for the southern city of Częstochowa.

“I am for the idea of integrating PKS companies under the leadership of PKS Polonus,” Janusz Kowalski said, referring to the most successful state-owned bus company, which runs routes out of Warsaw’s Western Station. “Such a company would work with or within the Polish Railways Group (PKP).”

Transport to smaller towns and rural areas was a key policy issue before the parliamentary election in the autumn. Plans announced to save or reintroduce 1,400 local services gave transport a boost, but did not help PKS Częstochowa, which went under receivership in January, or PKS Zamość in the south east of the country, which went bust a month earlier.

The COVID-19 lockdown was also not kind to transport companies, as people either stayed home from work or school or took to cars.

Under the State Assets Ministry suggestion, buses would run feeder services to smaller unconnected towns for PKP. Passengers could buy transferable tickets.

In 2019 a study by Busradar found that up to 14 million Poles were cut off from public transport. Some turned to car ownership and provided transport services for younger or older family members.

As a result, “nearly 40 percent of rural households have two cars, while 12 percent have three, with 60 percent of the vehicles being over nine years old” Busradar’s operations director Petr Susen told transport website Transport Publiczny. This of course has a knock on effect for the environment.

However, not everyone can drive, 27 percent of the population have no reliable access to a market town or an adjacent town by public transport, particularly in the East of the country.