Bus stops might all become ‘na znamení’

The city is considering eliminating mandatory stops to save money

Prague’s buses may soon end making stops where nobody gets on or off. Ropid, the organizer of Prague’s transit system, has proposed a plan calling for all bus stops to be “na znamení,” meaning people have to signal the driver ahead of time by pushing a button.

In other cities, this policy is often referred to as “ring or ride.” A similar change is not planned for trams.

The target for implementing the policy, if it gets final approval from City Hall, would be the start of this July, but mid-2020 is more likely as preparations need to be made. If the proposal is now approved, an intensive information campaign will be launched in April, which will give people at least two months to get used to the change.

“The deadline of July 1, 2020, provides more freedom in preparation,” the proposal document states.

The change has been discussed and is supported by City Hall’s Transport Committee, but still needs to be approved by the City Council.

“The main reason for this is to accelerate traffic in Prague. This would help not only buses, but also traffic flow,” Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Prague Sobě), responsible for transit, said.

The change is also supported by Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) transport director, Ladislav Urbánek. He said that there have been no complaints about stops that require a signal.

“For us, it has only positive effects and it works in Europe. … There's no reason why it can't work,” he said.

The change would mean a financial savings. Ropid estimates that eliminating pointless stopping could save up to Kč 5 million per year. Each stop and start of the bus costs about Kč 1 crown.

Bus service would be faster, and with the same number of buses and drivers, the level of service could increase. Noise and emissions from buses would also be reduced.

There are 2,342 bus stops in Prague, of which 1,384 are “na znamení” and 933 are mandatory stops, The rest are a combination, using signaling for off-peak times.

Ropid director Filip Drápal said that the existing signaled stops have already provided a savings.

People who want to get on a bus would have to wait visibly at the bus stop, or the bus might pass by.

Critics say this might adversely affect the elderly or the disabled, who often sit on a bench bear the bus stop, and might not be perceived as waiting for the bus. People in bad weather might not be visible in a bus shelter until the bus has already missed its chance to stop.

Also, some older model buses have fewer signal buttons, and they might be hard to reach for some people.

Ropid tried to change over to having all stops require a passenger signal in 2011, but the City Hall administration at the time opposed it.

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