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Skopje 17 Oct 11

Macedonian Mayor Decides Trams Are Capital Idea

The Mayor of Skopje says the city is actively planning construction of a tramway system costing about €140 million, which could be up and running "in a few years".

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Skopje

What Skopje's tramway might look like

Skopje Mayor Koce Trajanovski says he is planning to issue a tender to choose a partner company to build a tramway by the end of this year.

Construction should start one year from now at the latest, he said.

“A British-Hungarian firm that we chose has already prepared the feasibility study”, Trajanovski said. “Next in line is issuing a tender for a concessionary firm and, finally, finding a construction company.”

The Mayor is convinced that introducing trams to the Macedonian capital is the best way of improving the public transport system, which relies now on a fleet of some 500 buses.

The government recently bought over 300 new buses to completely replace the old fleet of Skopje’s public transport company, the JSP.  Of these 200 are double-deckers. Another 200 buses that cross Skopje are owned by private companies.

Trajanovski said the government would help fund the tramway system. “If we need additional financial support, the government has agreed to help us,” he said. If all goes well, the first trams will be running “in a few years”.

The city of 750,000 has been mulling the tram option for some 30 years as a more efficient and ecologically friendly method of getting peoeple to and from work.

In the late 1980s the idea went to a city referendum but a majority of Skopjans then did not favour having to directly fund the construction of the tram network themselves, as was proposed.

The most recent attempt to revive the idea came from the previous mayor, Trifun Kostovski, who ordered a feasibility study in 2009 and started preparation works on the ground. But enthusiasm for the idea faded when Kostovski’s term ended that year.

Mayor Trajanovski had been silent about the tram idea until now, saying the money was needed for other projects.  

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