The Slovenia Times

Public transport gaining popularity

Business
Slovenian Railways train. Photo: An┼że Malovrh/STA

Campaigns and freebies promoting public transportation in Slovenia appear to have been successful with the national rail operator and the Ljubljana coach station and bus company all reporting higher passenger figures for 2023.

Ridership on Slovenian trains has been growing since 2021, hitting over 15 million last year. The plan is to raise the figure to 25 million by 2028.

The number of rail passengers increased by more than 20% in 2022, exceeding the pre-pandemic figure recorded in 2019, and further rose in 2023, Slovenian Railways said on 8 January. Interest in rail travel increased in domestic and international transport.

The national rail operator finds the trend to be a result of several factors, including new trains and attractive fare promotions.

New trains, new terminal

In September 2022, the last of 52 new sets of trains were added to the fleet, and 20 new trains were ordered last June, and are expected to arrive in 2025.

Moreover, four engines and 20 cars are to arrive in 2026 in what will significantly expand international transport options provided by the operator.

In the future, Slovenian Railways would like to see additional high-speed tilting trains as well as more investment, upgrades, double-tracking, and electrification of regional lines.

The company also has high hopes for the new passenger terminal in Ljubljana, whose completion is slated for 2026. The terminal should allow for a one-third increase in throughput on commuter routes linking the capital and other towns.

The aim is to improve the transport network, but until the terminal is built, traffic in the capital may get worse before it gets better since the construction involves a series of major traffic restrictions, the first of which was a recent closure of a busy section of Dunajska Road.

Bus ridership up as well

Despite fears of heavy congestion, the four-day closure did not lead to any significant tailbacks. People heeded calls to avoid that part of the city, Peter Horvat, director of the Ljubljana public transport operator LPP, said on 9 January.

During the closure, LPP recorded no delays or traffic disruption. The company has been seeing a positive trend on its buses, as the number of passengers went up 24% in 2023.

Last year's ridership also exceeded the figure recorded in the pre-Covid year of 2019, and bus rides in the capital are expected to attract even more passengers once the LPP fleet receives new hydrogen and electric buses.

Reporting figures for 2023, the operator of Ljubljana's main coach station also noted that public bus transportation is coming out the other end following three challenging years brought on by the Covid pandemic.

International passenger transport reached pre-pandemic levels last year, both in terms of passenger numbers and routes, and in domestic transport, the figures have nearly recovered.

Not counting city buses, over 26 million passengers passed through the station in 2023. At the monthly level, an estimated 20% of foreign tourists visiting Ljubljana used bus services to get to the city, the AP Ljubljana operator said on 11 January.

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