The Mobility Issue Should Be Solved by Joint Efforts

Valiantsina Liaonchyk
Organisation of national public association "Belarusian Union of Transport Workers" (BUTW) is a "Club of those not indifferent" as its chairman Uladzimir Sasnousky and Valiantsina Liaonchyk his first deputy say. The members of this Club are chief executives, deputies of different levels, active and former local authorities as well as leading specialists and independent experts in various issues of transport industry.
By its 18th anniversary BUTW achieved a lot mostly counting on the enthusiasm of its members. For example, dozens of scientific and analytical researches on transport issues, constant monitoring of the current legislation and proposals for its improvement, conducting national and international conferences and seminars, printing books and manuals for the economic executives. Among them: "Contract Work" - a practical guide for companies performing road passengers transportations"(2011) and the second edition of the book "Public Transport in Belarus: State and Development Trends "(2012) 
But the main pride of BUTW is the increasing cooperation of transport workers and the state authorities: without it is quite difficult to develop transport work and its regulation mechanisms. According to the oriental saying "Power is not the absence of problems but the ability to solve them."
In the recent years BTUW gave priority to the most problematic branch - public transport, here it is often difficult to determine the priorities and divide social and commercial interests. Uladzimir Sasnousky believes that the state doesn`t pay enough attention to this most important industry sector. Surely, if compared to the oil or engineering sector its contribution to GDP is small and makes 1% or even less. Nevertheless, this is the sector that ensures the mobility to the majority of people, so that they can produce and consume goods and services, i.e. the high GDP is impossible without transport sector. Moreover, each state taking care of the welfare of its citizens must be aware and responsible for environment in order to preserve it to the future generations, in other words, seek to become "a nation of sustainable development" as to Sasnousky.
Uladzimir Sosnouski
From the experience of the leading foreign countries is clear that one way in approaching to this goal is a priority development of public transport.
The problem of mobility in Belarus has never been seriously studied and, consequently, is not being resolved. All passed state programs are industry-oriented and such complex concepts as mobility or transport accessibility, as well as public transport, do not even have a legislative recognition.
The question why you need to act exactly in this way, Sasnousky answers: "We are repeating confidently the way that many of the developed countries passed, when everyone bought cars, because they represented the wealth of the family and its mobility. Uncontrolled automobilisation always led to the collapse of the traffic: where the car was supposed to save the valuable time, it was taking it, staying in numerous traffic jams."
None of the countries managed to solve these problems without modernization of public transport, that means not only to upgrade the vehicle fleet, optimize routes and timetables, but also to reform the relationship between the transport workers and local authorities. As a customer of public transportation, local authorities determine routes and fares, compensate financial shortage of their budgets, etc.
Get profit is very difficult for the passenger transportation enterprises of all forms of property, it is a very good indicator if they cover the costs, what puts them into an unenviable position. "The state sector operates at fixed rates that do not compensate all the expenses, and provided subsidies are evidently not enough. Private companies also cannot afford to raise fares to cover all the costs of passenger traffic. Travel by root taxi to many poor, by European standards, Belarusians is considered a luxury. In such financial situation few Directors are able to update and repair the transport fleet and to pay decent salaries to their employees. Private sector in the travel industry within the country is not developing, hence there are no prospects in the export of this service - says Valiantsina Liaonchyk. Only experience and savings accumulated in national transportation can guarantee a successful start on the international market."
BUTW has constantly insisted in recent years on the development of the law "Organisation of the transport service of the Republic of Belarus", it will help to solve the problem of financial sustainability of passengers transportation sector a lot.
This qualitatively new document for the transport legislation is necessary to register all aspects of public transportation, from the requirements of those who are willing to provide such services, to clearly defined obligations of customers of transport which are the local authorities ", says Uladzimir Sasnousky.
During the educational visit to Moldova
To enable this experts from BUTW study the experience of foreign colleagues, both EU members and former soviet republics. BUTW delegations visited several times Germany and Brussels, only last year, got acquainted with the work of their colleagues in Moldova, Ukraine and Lithuania. In this situation not only transportation law knowledge is important but also foreign practice in applying the law, the experience of administrative reforms regarding delegation of public transportation to the local authorities.
Last year, in the framework of programme "The EU and Belarus: Sharing Experience, which is carried by the Office for Democratic Belarus with technical and information support of the Office of European Expertise and Communications," two educational visits to Chisinau and Vilnius were made.
During the Week of Sustainable Development (Minsk, April 25 this year) the BUTW planned an international conference "Complex and environmentally friendly mobility as an essential condition for sustainable development of cities and towns." Various aspects of plan preparation for urban (regional) mobility, as well as the direction of harmonisation of the Belarusian legislation on the passenger transportation according to the EU requirements will be discussed there.
In the middle of this year, after discussion with all interested parties and the necessary improvements, the concept made by experts BUTW will be published and sent to all interested organisations and state authorities.