Social Democrats start a petition against raising Prague’s annual transit fees

The Social Democrats currently are not in Prague’s City Assembly but hope to become relevant again via a petition drive

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 26.08.2020 16:00:00 (updated on 07.10.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Social Democrats (ČSSD) are hoping to boost their visibility by making an issue out of the proposed increase in Prague’s annual transit fares.

The ČSSD in Prague has started collecting signatures for a petition against rising prices and restrictions on Prague’s public transport. They will collect signatures at street stands and online until the end of September, and then they plan to submit the petition to the October meeting of the City Assembly.

For a petition to be discussed by the City Assembly, it must have at least 1,000 signatures. The ČSSD said it hopes to collect collect significantly more.

Prague’s management has suggested increasing the price of the annual pass, but the amount is not yet certain. Prague City Hall coalition party Praha Sobě on July 21 suggested an increase by 365 CZK, though a previous report suggested the increase could be much higher.

There has also been some discussion about changes to time intervals and connections. The Prague transit system saw a drop in income due to lack of tourists and reduced used of its services due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ČSSD Deputy Chairman Tomáš Petříček, who also serves as the Czech minister of foreign affairs, said that he did not consider it appropriate for the Prague’s management to pass the costs onto the local population during economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “If it will be more expensive, then it should be the area of one-off fares,” he said.

He also said he considers possible reduction of connections and extension of time intervals, which would reduce the quality of Prague’s public transport, to be perhaps an even greater mistake. These moves would be in conflict with modern trends and run counter to what the current Prague coalition promised, he added.

Petr Pavlík, chairman of the Prague branch of the ČSSD, also spoke against the fare increase, and claimed that current city administration was ineffective.

The party’s candidate for the Senate in a district representing part of Prague, Jakub Štědroň, added that a price increase would mean a step backward. Senate elections will take place October 2–3, 2020, across the Czech Republic.

Prague reduced the annual coupon for public transport in 2015 from the original 4,750 CZK to the current 3,650 CZK, fulfilling a campaign promise by then-mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO).

Current Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha Sobě), responsible for transit issues has said a price increases is necessary because the share of fare revenues in the costs of operating Prague public transport is declining every year and will probably not reach even 20% this year. The increase could also affect one-off tickets or parking, but the City Council has not yet decided.

A recent analysis shows that at an annual Prague transit pass should cost 8,422 CZK, if inflation and growth in covered distance of the transit network over the part 20 years is taken into account. The Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) will lose about 1.7 billion CZK for this year.

Since the elections in 2018, a coalition of Pirates, Praha Sobě and the United Force for Prague (TOP 09 and STAN) has ruled in Prague, with a majority of 39 votes in the 65-member City Assembly. The Civic Democrats (ODS) and ANO are in opposition.

In 2018, the ČSSD did not get enough votes to be represented in the Assembly, though it had been a part of the coalition that ruled Prague in 2014–18.

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