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News 12 Aug 11

Skopje prepares for Double-Decker Buses

Transport workers in the Macedonian capital of Skopje are today trimming foliage and repositioning road signs that might get in the way of the city’s new fleet of double-decker buses.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Skopje

Photo by: Build.mk

The first shipment of 68 custom-made buses arrives in the capital this month from China’s Zhengzhou Yutong factory.

They have been specially designed to resemble the British-made Leyland buses used in Skopje during the 1950s and 1960s and represent around one quarter of the 220 vehicles ordered by the government last year in a bid to introduce an attraction to the capital.

“Eleven of the buses are already at the customs office and the rest will be arriving soon,” Aco Stojanovski, head of Skopje’s public transport said.

The buses will be put into operation on 8 September, coinciding with the day of Macedonian independence.

The government’s decision to reintroduce double-deckers in Skopje has not been without controversy. Some observers, including opposition parties, have claimed that the retro-look and taller height of the buses is not practical for the city’s roads as it requires that local infrastructure be adjusted creating an additional, unnecessary cost for a poor local economy. The double deckers themselves cost over €41 million.

They argue that it would be much cheaper to use standard mass-produced buses.

The first double-decker bus arrived in Skopje earlier this year, attracting much attention from local residents. While some waited eagerly at bus stops to board the bus, one local couple came up with the novel idea of renting it for an exclusive drive and photo-shoot for their wedding.

Skopje will receive all of its double-deckers by 2013. Of the 220, 15 buses will be designed without a roof so they can be used for tourist sightseeing.

The current city bus fleet has been in need of significant improvements. With some buses over 30 years old, technical malfunctions are a constant problem.

Also in 2010, an agreement was signed with Ukrainian bus company Lvivski Avtobusni Zavody for the procurement of 80 standard buses. Nearly half of them are now in use on Skopje’s roads and the rest are due to arrive by the end of the year.

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