The EBRD and EU are funding greener public transport systems in Moldova’s second city.
Blue skies, blue and white air balloons and EBRD/EU stickers (with 12 golden stars adding to the festive mood) – all elements were appropriately colour-coordinated when nine brand new trolleybuses rolled into the sunny scenery of Bălți last week.
The new vehicles were presented to the public on the occasion of Bălți’s City Day and were the result of a €3 million EBRD loan and a €1.6 million capital grant by the EU’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF). The new fleet replaced trolleybuses that were more than 20 years old and preceded a second patch to follow in the upcoming weeks.
Among those expecting their arrival were Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leancă, Bălți’s mayor Vasili Panciuc, the EBRD’s Head of RO Julia Otto and Kaido Direl, Head of Operations at the EU Delegation to Moldova. Furthermore, hundreds of citizens were welcoming the new fleet at the gate of the Balti Trolleybus Department’s headquarters to witness the first locals and journalists putting the trolleybuses to the test.
Reliable and better service
Ana Ceban, a young mother and student, is one of Bălți’s citizens who have quickly been won over by the new vehicles: “I have already felt the difference, as I use public transport at least twice a day on my way to university. The new trolleybuses are far less noisy, faster and the directions are more clearly displayed. I haven’t tried it out yet, but it will also be easier for me to get on with my child and pram.”
Lower floors make the trolleybuses more easily accessible, especially to the elderly, families with children and people with walking disabilities. They are also more energy efficient and require far less maintenance than their 20-year old predecessors – a great plus for the local residents (a more reliable service) and for the client (lower costs), the Bălți Trolleybus Department. In total, more than 70 per cent of all their trolleybuses will be replaced thanks to the EBRD/EU project.
“This project is important because it makes the lives of Bălți residents easier and more comfortable,” the Moldovan Prime Minister said at the launch ceremony. He also praised “the higher quality transportation that changes people’s daily lives as well as the city’s image and infrastructure.”
“With the new trolleybuses, we managed to bring quality services where they are most needed – in the regions, outside the capital,” explained Julia Otto, the EBRD’s Head of Chisinau RO. “There are also great environmental benefits, as the new fleet is more eco-friendly.”
Bălți follows Chisinau’s success
Bălți is the second city in Moldova where the EBRD and the EU have introduced greener trolleybuses. In Chisinau, more than 100 new vehicles replaced an old, Soviet-era fleet three years ago.
The improvements to the public transport system in the two cities benefit many Moldovans, explains Alex Cosovan, Principal Banker in Chisinau RO. Approximately one fourth of Moldova’s population live in the two cities and can now opt for a “green” ride to work.