City approves free public transit during smog alerts

The step is part of a larger package to reduce air pollution in the city

The Prague City Council formally approved the introduction of free public transport during a smog situation. The proposal was made in January, and now has been confirmed as was expected.

When in effect, this will cost the city some Kč 5 million per day. Holders of annual or monthly passes will not get any kind of refund for paying for the free days.

The city is also preparing more steps to reduce emissions in the long run such as limits on burning solid fuel for boilers, and plans to work with police over cars that heavily pollute.

Prague has prepared an information campaign to improve people’s awareness of the appropriate steps to take in case of smog.

“In the event of a smog situation, public transport will be free of charge. We want to make it clear that together we have to protect the air in Prague. This measure, which will offer people an alternative when traveling around the city, can contribute to this,” Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha Sobě) said.

Deputy Mayor Petr Hlubuček (United Force for Prague) said it is important for Prague takes the first step by itself. “That is why we appeal to the employees of the City of Prague, and municipal and contributory organizations to drive cars during a smog situation only when necessary,” he added.

“We will also support the replacement of obsolete heating sources by limiting heating with solid fuels. This should be helped by the coming decree restricting the combustion of solid fuels in the oldest boilers,” he said, encouraging people to replace obsolete boilers as soon as possible.

Since the end of last year, Prague has begun to work actively with the Czech Police for a more thorough measurement of emissions and inspections of particulate filters. After three months of negotiations, the City Council together with the police have launched a pilot inspection system. “After evaluating the first checks we will gradually increase their number,” Hlubuček said. Missing or improperly functioning filters account for a large portion of harmful emissions, he said.

City Hall has also prepared an information campaign that briefly explains to people what to avoid when the smog situation is announced.

“I believe that all these measures will reduce air pollution’s impact on the health and life of the population in the capital,” Hlubuček said.

“Is it enough? Definitely not. It is necessary to focus on long-term measures to improve air quality in Prague. The city is considering the introduction of a low-emission zone, for which regulations from the Czech government are necessary. We will also explore the introduction of a toll in the city center.

A free of charge connection to Prague public transport will be discussed with the Central Bohemian region. We can start by ourselves, and we can have a free public transport service to offer to the Prague people to relieve the air without delay. "

Measures taken include recommendations for companies and other organizations set up by the capital to enable their employees to work from home or recommend that they use urban public transport. Prague has also created a site where people can comfortably find all the details of the smog situation. Information is available at smog.praha.eu.

The theme of the impact of traffic on the air will be also be part of the long-term campaign called Clean Trail of Prague (www.cistoustopou.cz), which is aimed at promoting sustainable transport, especially public transport, non-emission transport and also more environmentally friendly modes of transport in those cases where car use is necessary or most efficient.

The campaign also includes support for carsharing, carpooling and other alternatives. The purpose is to increase awareness, attractiveness and consequently the use of these available and often cheaper and more time-consuming methods of transfers.

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