Skopje citizens are mistreated in hellish buses, there are no air conditioners or they serve only for "decoration"

Photo: Free Press / Dragan Mitreski

JSP "Skopje" does not even want to answer why the air conditioners in the vehicles are not turned on, they are broken or they save fuel. Probably, according to them, the citizens do not deserve such an answer, they should be silent, suffer and be happy that there are any buses at all.

In Skopje's June heat, the citizens are abused to the maximum extent in the buses that the city authorities call public city transport. Sweaty, exhausted, on the edge of nerves at almost plus 40 degrees Celsius, after waiting for a bus for half an hour, they ride in hot "cans", because most of them do not have air conditioning.

The situation is like this without exception in all buses of private carriers and in the majority of buses of JSP "Skopje". At the same time, the public company does not even want to answer why the air conditioners in the vehicles are not turned on, they are broken or they save fuel. Probably, according to them, the citizens do not deserve such an answer, they should be silent, suffer and be happy that there are any buses at all.

Regarding the buses of the private carriers, with which the mayor Danela Arsovska concluded a new contract a year ago, she claimed that they will drive with the existing vehicles, but that they have an obligation to modernize them, so some of the carriers, as she emphasized then, have already started to improve them fleet, they started taking loans.

Photo: Free Press / Marina Damcheska

The fact that nothing has improved is evidenced by the citizens who use them daily, especially on the routes where the lines are served only by private carriers. Buses are, as people say, "crushed", and they either don't have air conditioners at all, or if they do, they don't run them because they save fuel. This is the quality that the people of Skopje received after last year's negotiations and agreements of the mayor with the carriers. Obviously, no criteria regarding the conditions in which passengers will be transported have been set, or else the agreement is not respected.

The problems with transportation continue: the buses are dirty and without air conditioning, and the controllers are rude, the citizens complain

But JSP "Skopje" is a public city enterprise, it is paid from the city budget, mostly subsidies on an annual level, citizens' money, flow into the coffers of JSP. Then, citizens pay for transportation, pay for monthly tickets, and in return they receive low-quality and non-functional transportation. The only exception is the 33 "man" buses purchased about three years ago, in which the passenger can feel comfortable while driving on the desired route.

In the two-story ones, in the rare ones where the air conditioning is turned on, as one resident of Skopje says, one does not know if it is better to have or not to have air conditioning.

Most of the openings from which the air conditioner blows are broken, that is, they do not have grills, so it blows so hard through the holes that a person's brain freezes. In the crowds there is nowhere to take shelter - sitting and standing are equally awful. Then in that state you go out into the heat. And then people collapse on the streets, then they collapse. They can at least fix something, it's a shame. That's why I say, one does not know what is better, but of course it is terrible in the buses during this period - says Zoran from the Airport.

City double-decker JSP buses on record / Photo: "Free Press" - Dragan Mitreski

And if someone is traveling on a shorter distance, they will be able to endure somehow, but it is unbearable for the suburban ones. Mira from Skopje tells about her trip on bus line 53 from the Transport Center to Katlanovo.

A JSP bus runs on this line, without air conditioning of course. In Katlanovo, many citizens have holiday homes, some of the residents work in Skopje, older people travel to Katlanovska Banja. You can't even imagine what it's like to travel on this bus after work in this heat. The journey takes at least one hour, depending on traffic congestion. It's too hot outside, but it's hell inside the bus. It does not support itself. The driver works in the same conditions all day long, and is in some way responsible for the safety of those he drives. We barely survived the ride, and when we arrived in Katlanovo, we literally attacked the nearest local store to buy water - says our interlocutor, pointing out that she uses the bus occasionally, but that she feels sorry for the people who are forced to survive this harassment every day.

Citizens complain, but JSP and the City of Skopje, led by the mayor, do not react. No one cares about the needs of the people of Skopje. Public bus transportation is on the "edge of the abyss" and someone will have to take responsibility for it, sooner or later, because the citizens do not deserve what happens to them every day.

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