The financial support for public transport was to raise passenger demand. Most funds, however, were used to replace old vehicles with new ones.

Press release on Audit No. 18/24 - 29 October 2019

The Supreme Audit Office has examined the financial support for public urban transport, which was distributed between the years 2014 and 2018 by the Ministry of Regional Development/MoRD/, based on the “Integrated Regional Operational Programme”. The SAO has audited more than CZK 12.5 billion spent on this support, which is mainly made up of EU funds. Of which CZK 1.5 billion have been audited on the part of the beneficiaries. These funds were intended to help increase the use of public transport and contribute, for example, in making it more environmentally friendly or more accessible for disabled persons. Although this kind of support is worthwhile, its benefits are significantly reduced by several shortcomings. For example, only a fifth of newly bought vehicles served to expand the vehicle fleet and thus expand the provided services. The auditors have also found deficiencies in the evaluation and audit of projects.

The financial support from the “Integrated Regional Operational Programme” is also used to encourage people to make more use of public transport and give it priority over passenger cars. In this context, the Czech Republic has set itself the objective for public transport to have a 35 % share in overall passenger transport. However, this objective appears to be too ambitious, since the long-term share of public transport is around 30 %.

The demand for public transport is dependent, inter alia, on the frequency of connections, as shown by the 2014 Eurobarometer survey. However, the audit carried out by the SAO has shown that only 21 % of the vehicles acquired by beneficiaries, that is, by the regional carriers, served to expand the fleet and thus to increase the number of connections. Most of the funds were used to replace old cars with new ones. In order to significantly change the situation in cities and regions, it is necessary to focus support on strategic projects that are interlinked with other measures.

One indicator showing the impact of financial support is the number of persons transported by public transport. However, the beneficiaries reported entirely unrealistic data on how the number of transported persons increased as a result of the project. In fact, the MoRD failed to set up a mechanism for data verification and the prevention of errors. For example, one beneficiary reported a number of transported persons which was related to the entire public transport network 323 km long, although the subsidised trolley-buses ran on a line which was only 7.5 km long. Another beneficiary used the subsidy for the purchase of trams, but passengers travelling by bus were also included in the total number of transported persons.

The aim of the financial support was also to make public transport more environmentally friendly. The beneficiaries used the subsidy to buy electric buses, however some of them had independent oil-fired heating. As a result, these buses used up almost 30 litres of diesel in a period ranging from 6 to 9 months. However, the evaluation of the projects did not consider emissions from this source. In 67 % of the cases, only one bidder came forward in the tender for suppliers of cleaner vehicles. As a result, the competition took place to a limited extent. This was most common for the acquisition of electric buses, trolley-buses and trams.

Also, the MoRD has failed to unequivocally prohibit beneficiaries, who have acquired a subsidy to purchase new, cleaner vehicles, from using old, less environmentally friendly vehicles to transport passengers. So for example, one of the beneficiaries had sold its old vehicles to a regular service carrier.

The SAO has also found shortcomings in the evaluation and audit of projects, both on the part of the Ministry and the Centre for Regional Development and on the part of some municipalities involved in the evaluation of certain types of subsidy applications.

Moreover, the allocation of subsidies, which is co-decided by statutory towns, is quite complex due to errors in the information system “MS2014 +”. This system is used by the Ministry of Regional Development to monitor EU funds.

For a summary of subsidies for the acquisition of vehicles, the construction of terminals, the introduction of transport telematics and other information, please consult the data annex here:

Communication Department
Supreme Audit Office

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