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Cetra Sofia Managing Director Roeland Van de Ven: Bulgarian Capital Needs Both ITMS and New Infrastructure

Bulgaria-Netherlands » BUSINESS | January 27, 2010, Wednesday // 11:50
Bulgaria: Cetra Sofia Managing Director Roeland Van de Ven: Bulgarian Capital Needs Both ITMS and New Infrastructure The Sofia Municipality is resorting to the help of Dutch consultants for the setting up of a Traffic Management System. Photo by BGNES

Interview with Roeland Van de Ven, Dutch Managing Director of Cetra Sofia, for the Dutch Survey ("International Survey: Bulgaria-Netherlands") of Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency). Cetra Sofia is involved, together with two Dutch consultancies - DHV and Vialis Traffic - in a project for an Intelligent Traffic Management System of the Bulgarian capital.

How would you describe the traffic congestion issues of the Bulgarian capital Sofia at present? How serious is the situation?

Similar as in other cities of this size under the same circumstances. The situation requires measures to be taken urgently in order to reduce current serious bottlenecks which in Sofia can be done quite effectively.

How does the report of DHV, Vialis Traffic and Cetra Sofia propose to help solve the traffic congestion problems of the Bulgarian capital?

By implementing an automated system the core of which is a sophisticated central software system connecting to the traffic lights in the city whilst measuring real time traffic density with ‘electronic eyes’.

The manual system of traffic light manipulation which is still in use in Sofia is outdated and cannot cope with the volume of traffic.

How much can a traffic management system improve the situation? Shouldn’t Sofia Municipality focus instead on building new infrastructure?

The recommended system will improve the current situation substantially as demonstrated in a pilot project at the Tsaritsa Yoanna/Todor Alexandrov corridor in February 2009; travel times were reduced up to 50%.

Its implementation can take place relatively fast reason why it is a priority measure to be taken.

Not instead but in addition Sofia Municipality must take extra measures amongst others with regard to parking facilities and parking control and separate lanes for public transport.

How is the TMS project of Sofia Municipality and the DHV, Vialis Traffic, and Cetra Sofia going to proceed?

Sofia Municipality has expressed its commitment to secure funding for the project and to start a procurement procedure as soon as possible.

The Dutch specialists and we will provide any required assistance. The objective is to start implementing the system in the second quarter of this year which is realistic, provided all parties involved remain focused.

How do you assess the public transport potential of Sofia? What is needed to convince the Sofia residents to switch to using bikes?

It is obvious that Sofia Municipality must prioritize the further upgrading of its public transport system. It must also introduce incentives to switch from private to public transportation.

This is for an important part a financial problem; the required investments are considerable. It seems that Sofia Municipality is focusing on this topic.

People will start using bicycles once they feel safe doing so and sufficient infra structure is available.

How can the Bulgarian capital learn from the Dutch experience and solutions with traffic congestion? Is it a matter of borrowing from the Dutch, or should Bulgarians try to design their own solutions?

Evidently the Dutch long term experience of how to deal with traffic density is to be used at its maximum. This know how is invaluable. The collaboration with the Dutch will result in knowledge transfer which will allow Bulgarians to further their capabilities efficiently.

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