EC authorises Czech State aids improving public transport infrastructure
Brussels, Belgium – The European Commission has decided 2008-10-08 not to raise any objections to two Czech State aid schemes that aim to improve public transport infrastructure in the region of Střední Čechy. The supported projects will offer Park and Ride facilities for commuters and alternative refuelling stations reserved for public transport operators. They will contribute to an integrated passenger transport system and will facilitate the combined use of different modes of transport, such as car, train, bus and bicycle. In this region more than 50% of the population commutes and the use of individual transport means is on the increase. The Czech authorities also expect positive environmental effects by reducing traffic emissions and congestion in urban areas.
The measures consist of grants for transport operators and municipalities investing in Park and Ride facilities (around 20 projects close to main bus stations and train stations) and in alternative refuelling stations reserved for public transport operators. The annual budget of the financing scheme for Park and Ride facilities amounts to CZK 155.5 million (€6.5 million) and for the provision of alternative refuelling stations to CZ 124.16 million (€ 5.2 million). The duration of the schemes is 6 years (from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2014).
Although the aid granted to transport operators will provide an economic advantage, the Commission has found that the proposed schemes are in line with the Community rules as they cover investments in public transport infrastructure.
As a part of its urban transport policy, the Commission stressed in its 2007 Green Paper on urban mobility[2 ]that public authorities should promote co-modality and provide for an efficient public transport infrastructure. It indicates that attractive Park & Ride facilities can provide an incentive for combining private and collective transport and may reduce the use of cars in the centre of the cities. The Commission therefore appreciates the Czech efforts to improve the public transport network in the region of Střední Čechy.
Increased traffic, mainly in town and city centres, results in congestion with many adverse consequences, such as air and noise pollution, accidents and delays. Today, transport produces nearly a third of CO2 emissions – the greenhouse gas most responsible for climate change – and emissions are expected to grow significantly. The use of public transport is one of the most efficient ways of reducing the harmful environmental effects of transport, especially in congested urban areas.
 State aid case N 370/2008 Public financing scheme for "Park and Ride" infrastructure projects and State aid case N 371/2008 Public financing of ecological transport infrastructure projects (alternative refuelling stations for public transport operators).
[2 ] Green paper "Towards a new culture for urban mobility", COM (2007) 551 final of 25 September 2007.