Towards a climate neutral EU:
efficient allocation of EU funds

“Modernisation and development of sustainable urban transport in Stara Zagora — Phase II”

Organisation: Economic Policy Institute Website: Added: September 13, 2022
Project start date: January 02, 2018
Project end date: November 10, 2021



Stara Zagora has implemented two projects on the development of sustainable urban transport. Thanks to the implementation of the two stages of the transport project, Stara Zagora was able to eliminate the consequences of the depreciated old city buses and significantly improve the air quality in the city. During Phase I of the project, the Municipality rehabilitated the air-contact network, repaired the rectifier stations, built an information system at bus stops in the city, purchased 14 trolleybuses and two types of buses - 50 solo buses, 5 articulated buses. All buses meet the Euro 6 standard. Following Phase I, Stara Zagora successfully implemnted a second project, namely the “Modernisation and Development of Sustainable Urban Transport in Stara Zagora — Phase II” (hereafter the “Phase II project”). The Phase II project falls under the investment priority “Promotion of strategies for low-carbon development in all types of territories, in particular in urban areas, including the promotion of sustainable multimodal urban mobility and climate change adaptation and mitigation measures”. The Phase II project was planned as a natural continuation of Phase I. The Phase II project included the following activities: Construction of road infrastructure; Introduction of an automated charging system (ACT); Building a Urban Transport Management System (UTP); Rehabilitation of the repair hall of the trolleybus depot; Specific supervision of a working project “Reconstruction of overpass over railway line and Slavyanski Blvd. on Patriarch Evtimii Blvd. — Stara Zagora and bringing the gauge of the road lane on Patriarch Evtimii Blvd.,” Construction supervision; Introduction of the sites into operation; Publicity and visualisation of the project; Project audit; Project organisation and management. Good practices and innovations The project aims at developing sustainable public transport in Stara Zagora, by developing a system for giving priority to buses serving public transport. Further, the project has secured the replacement of existing traffic lights, and implementation of a system at 35 intersections for traffic management and control, including new traffic controllers with modern technology, traffic detectors, traffic light displays and devices. The developments made under the project have made Stara Zagora one of the Bulgarian cities with “smart” public transport. Among the developments are aslo the modern ticketing system as well as a mobile application "Stara Zagora City Transport"

Financial data

The total project cost is 12 861 629.29 BGN (5 589 637.18 EUR), with EU co-financing of 85.00 %.


According to field research, it has been identified that there are certain aspects of the project, including the establishment of bus lanes, have only been successfully implemented on paper. The bus lanes proved problematic, because they narrow a busy bridge road. Since they were a part of the project, they had to be placed for at least the duration of the five-year warranty period. Otherwise there is a risk that the operational programme will penalise the project beneficiary. In the search for a way out of the situation, the bus lanes, originally delineated by a continuous line, were replaced by discontinuous ones, which in practice means their removal. Therefore, no bus lines are successfully operational at the current stage. The pressure of the civil society has played a major role in this situation, meaning that neither the positive aspects of the project, nor its potential contribution to the environment, have been communicated to the society. Therefore, we would recommend that one of the requirements for future project approvals is an element, aimed at the implementation of activities, such as information campaigns, which would raise the awareness among the society of the importance of everyone’s effort in securing a healthy future environment. Otherwise, any project result might be jeopardized by the social unpreparedness and lack of knowledge of the individual impact on the positive project results. Besides, according to citizens of the city, the project has failed to make the public transport of Stara Zagora attractive to citizens and more frequently used by them. Car traffic and congestion at peak times are not decreasing. In addition, the cycle lanes, which have been made and removed several times, have remained unattractive for cyclists. Therefore, we would recommend that upon its approval, a project should demonstrate how it would make the public transport services more attractive overall.

Another shortage in the phase of project implementation is the fact that in order to comply with the project deadlines, stakeholders involved in the project implementation violated against domestic law. According to a Bulgarian media investigation platform, the project was put into operation without the necessary completion permit (the so-called 'Акт 16' in Bulgarian or the legal authorization for use after construction works are finished that is issued by the respective state authority).

Information sources

Other info

European Climate Initiative (EUKI)
This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The EUKI competition for project ideas is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.