Monday, January 18, 2010

Welcome Back, BKV

Strike's over. During the weekend, the management of Budapest's public transport company BKV agreed to give workers pretty much everything they'd asked for, which is to say, everything that was taken away in the renewed collective contract.

Management didn't have a chance in winning the fight. During the last year, one corruption scandal after another befouled the already dubious name of BKV management. Among the most recent cases, there were several lavish severance packages given to BKV officers with hardly any tenure and millions of forints worth of legal service contracts given to firms that did no work.

To read the news, BKV managers seemed like nothing but a bunch of crooks, so when they tried to patch up finances by eliminating employees' hot-meal tickets, you couldn't help but want to punch someone in the face. It's a shame that a few greedy managers have done so much to undermine the reputation of BKV. Public subsidies are necessary for public transport to function, so when the people's good will dries up, so does the service.

We cyclists may be less reliant than most on public transport but I, for one, like to have it in a pinch. I blogged earlier about how I'd hurt my knee over the holidays and haven't been able to bike. BKV was my stand-in for a few weeks, and then the strike hit. Last week, I joined hundreds of others for half-hour waits on HEV platforms and more than a couple claustrophobic rides on the 4-6 tram line.

In some circles, it's heresy to say this, but the bike alone is not enough for me to live car-free. Having a functioning public transport system has been key, and this past week I missed it.


Jelica said...

I think a functioning public transport will always be key to a car-free living--for a myriad reasons it is not feasible to expect bikes to ever replace it (at least for us ordinary mortals).

Greg Spencer said...

I like the presumption behind your remark: that CYCLISTS ARE GODS!! More people should think that way!

Jelica said...

maybe not gods but certainly people with above-average determination and skills. i, on the other hand, will continue to happily rub shoulders with the old nenis on trams and buses :)))

Greg Spencer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg Spencer said...

You know, it's likely true that everyday cyclists in Bp rate above average in physical ability and nerve. But that's because the city hasn't done more to make cycling safe and convenient.

In cities with good cycling conditions, I don't think there's any demographic difference between cyclists, car drivers or public transport users. They're probably pretty much the same people, just mixing and matching transport modes depending on what the trip calls for.