One third of the funds in support of urban public transport is underused. It is unclear whether the aid which has already been paid out had a positive impact

Press Release on audit No 20/14 – 21 June 2021

The SAO examined the funds in support of urban public transport in electric traction, i.e., trams, trolleybuses, and the metro. For this aid, the Ministry of Transport (MoT) allocated CZK 11.7 billion from the Operational Programme Transport 2014—2020. However, at least one third of that amount will not be used up for this purpose. This is due to the initial lack of well-prepared projects and the postponement of the construction of the Prague Metro line D. The MoT does not evaluate the benefits of the aid provided on an ongoing basis. So far, the evaluation indicators have been set by the MoT in such a manner that it will be difficult to determine whether the provided funds helped to raise interest in public transport or whether they contributed to a reduction of pollutant emissions.

Aid for the construction and modernisation of urban and suburban transport in the form of trams, trolleybuses, or metro lines has been allocated by the MoT since 2016. The MoT approved a total of 42 projects. At the end of October 2020, only nine projects had been completed. Moreover, at least 34% of the funds allocated to this kind of support will not be used up. The first call for applications to receive this financial support did not attract enough well-prepared projects. The MoT also envisaged CZK 5 billion for the construction of the Prague metro line D. However, the preparation of this project has been delayed and other cities will not have enough time to draw on these funds.

The auditors also pointed out that the MoT would not have any evidence of what the financial aid had achieved. The MoT only monitors outputs, such as the length of new and upgraded lines. However, according to these indicators, the MoT will not be able to assess whether and how the support has increased interest in urban public transport compared to car transport, if harmful emissions have been reduced, or if urban connections have improved and accelerated. The MoT also does not evaluate the aid on an ongoing basis, but intends to do so only at the end of the programming period. The Ministry is still clarifying what the evaluation will look like.

In the case of project administration, the auditors found that the intermediate body to which the Ministry had delegated part of its powers had concluded framework contracts, sometimes even nine months after the approval of the financial aid. In other cases, it concluded a contract more than one year after the end of the project. As a result, the beneficiaries had to bear the costs themselves at first. The call for applications to receive financial support states that it is based on a contract that the beneficiaries will receive the money for their project before it starts.

The auditors also focused on the construction costs of six comparable projects for the construction or refurbishment of the tram line. They compared prices per 1 km of line. Prices ranged between CZK 33 million and CZK 122 million. Both the complexity of the construction and the amount of work carried out had an impact on these price differences.

Communication Department
Supreme Audit Office

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