Budapesti Közlekedési Központ (Centre for Budapest Transport) was established by a ruling of the General Assembly of the Municipality of Budapest on the 27th of October, 2010.
How it all started
The establishment of BKK was preceded by years of preparatory work. During the course of this process, a team of experts examined the opportunities to renew the clearly outdated and fragmented transport system on an institutional level to remove one of the greatest obstacles impeding transport development and to encourage cooperation between stakeholders, taking into consideration the political, strategical, transport-related, and last, but not least, legal aspects of the planned project. The last occasion when municipal leaders introduced significant changes to the Budapest transport management was at the end of the 1960s, when the Budapest Transport Company was established. The years elapsed since 1990 have demonstrated the shortcomings of that transport management system: it became clear that the democratic market environment notwithstanding, even though transport in Budapest comes under the cognizance of the Municipal Government of the Capital , several serious issues burdened the everday lives of the city’s traveling public. In many cases, this was not the result of a lack of funds, more that of a lack of expert coordination and dedicated, unified leadership, although the individual transport experts themselves were often lead by the best of intentions.
Financing and development
It is a commonly known fact that public transport cannot sustain itself financially anywhere in the world, ticket and pass sales being inadequate to cover the operational costs of such a vast system (some 48 million euros in Budapest). This is, as a matter of fact, the reason that public transport is a public service, seeing that if its own revenues could generate profit, it would be able to function under competitive market circumstances. It being a public service, however, it is necessary to compensate for those revenues which are absent due to the charcateristics of the system itself. This means mainly state and municipal support in every part of the world, with complentary funding to operate and develop the system coming from a variety of alternative sources
The establishment of BKK will result in the gradual development of an integrated Budapest transport budget in 2011-2012: state and municipal support, fare revenues and all other transport-related revenues will appear transparently in the budget of BKK, making the funding of everyday operations more predictable. The most prominent of these additional revenues are: those derived from sales of advertising surfaces and the utilization of real estate stock (commercial premises above ground and in the subway); parking-related revenues and freight transport permit fees
It is BKK’s responsibility, inter alia, to secure additional sources of revenue, while also increasing existing revenues through the implementation of a modern fare-structure and e-ticketing scheme to encourage more frequent travel.
Another highly important aspect of any transport system is development. The scale of available EU funding is in the 10 millions: due to well-substantiated projects, Hungary can now spend a never before seen sum on transport development through the EU’s Cohesion Fund. It is the responsibility of BKK to prepare and implement projects which have city-wide relevance and are appropriate for EU co-financing.
During the preparatory phase preceding the establishment of BKK, we considered it highly important to assess the institutional structures of local and regional transport management systems in other countries, particularly in urban areas and capital cities. After examining a number of different models, we deemed that of Transport for London the most appropriate one to model our fledgling organisation after.
TfL was founded in 2000 under the 1999 Act re-establishing Greater London. The municipal system of London thus became two-tiered, as it is that of Budapest. The responsibilities of the Lord Mayor of London encompass 4 distinct fields: fire and emergency planning, metropolitan police, strategic urban development, and the largest, transport. TfL compiles and implements the City’s transport strategy. It integrates the organisation of public transport and the transport network; plans timetables, orders services and – through public procurement procedures – oversees the selection of bus service providers; operates and develops the underground network; oversees standardized taxi service centrally; develops and operates the transport signal system, operates and develops bicycle lanes, operates a bike rental service, etc.
London has enjoyed great successes related to transport development in the past ten years, and although there are still improvements to be made, a number of cities consider their szstem enviable. Two further cities have implemented structures based on the transport management system of the British capital: Singapore, and, gradually, as of 2010, Budapest. Establishing BKK on the foundations of the aforementioned model was a point often made during the campaign of then Mayoral Candidate, now Mayor István Tarlós, titled Budapest, Capital of the Nation.