The Bank proposes to finance the Sofia Transport Investment programme consisting of (i) the refurbishment of trams; (ii) new buses; (iii) new trolley buses; (iv) a passenger ticket system; (v) a transport control system; and (vi) tram track renewal.
The project would focus on priority investments to improve public transport services in the city of Sofia, as well as addressing the institutional and organisational issues. To attract capital and increase efficiency, it is also planned to increase private involvement in the public transport sector.
The transition impact would derive from:
p-rivatisation of the city-owned workshops to foster competition and thereby decrease maintenance and service costs;
involvement of private operators in the provision of bus services as a means to increase efficiency in the sector;
restructuring of the organisational framework for provision of urban transport services with a view to provide better transparency and accountability.
The city of Sofia is the borrower.
The EBRD proposes to extend a loan of €35 million to the city of Sofia to finance an investment programme in the urban transport sector. The EBRD will seek to syndicate part of the loan to a commercial bank.
The total operation amount is €35 million comprising an A-loan of 25 million and a B-loan of 10 million, extended to the City to finance investments in the City's urban transport sector.
In addition, a 6 million guarantee facility has been approved by the Bank to cover the City's payments to a larger scale private bus operator once the selection procedure is completed by the City.
The project has been screened as B/0. requiring an environmental analysis. There are unlikely to be any significant issues associated with the project (as investment is limited to tram renovation, new bus purchases, and passenger ticket and control systems). There may, however, be issues associated with vehicle emissions, fuel efficiency and compliance with EU standards for vehicles, all of which will be addressed in the analysis. In addition to reduced emission levels, the project should bring environmental benefits by enabling the provision of better quality public transport services and providing an attractive alternative to the car for travel within Sofia. The project will enable old and inefficient buses with poor environmental standards to be replaced with buses with high environmental performance levels. This will have a positive environmental impact on the air quality in urban areas.
For project preparation: (i) restatement and consolidation of accounts to international accounting standards; (ii) recommendations on improvement of corporate structure for the provision of urban transport services; (iii) assistance to privatise some of the bus services.
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