High Quality Passenger Transport In Serbia

There has never been a comprehensive survey on satisfaction with the quality of passenger transport, as the ones that are being regularly conducted in the developed countries. If such a survey was conducted, it would reveal a large number of problems faced primarily by those categories of population that, due to study or work, travel over a hundred kilometres daily. A significant number of state operators awaits privatization for more than a decade, and in the meantime, a significant number of passengers in Serbia have been forced to minimize their expectations regarding transport quality.

“The level of satisfaction with the quality of our services is the basis of everything we do”, says Dejan Bogunovic, General Manager of Arriva Litas, which operates within the company Arriva, one of the largest operators in Europe, providing transport services of the highest quality in 14 European countries and achieving annual turnover of about 2.2 billion passengers.

Arriva is part of the Deutsche Bahn Group and has been present in Serbia since May 2013 when it took over the ownership of company Veolia Transport Litas.

“Our goal is to provide the customer with the highest quality service, which includes the highest standards of safety, continuous improvement of reliability, making passenger transportation as easy as possible”, adds the General Manager of Arriva in Serbia. “The research we recently conducted in Denmark, where Arriva is the largest bus operator with a market share of around 40 percent, has shown that as many as 85 percent of users in this extremely demanding market are satisfied with the quality of our services. Similar results are achieved in other markets where we operate, including Italy, Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia, and our long-term goal is to become leaders in the passengers’ transportation in Serbia, through direct investments, strategic partnerships and the implementation of the highest quality standards.”

One of the key problems all operators in Serbia are facing is the departure of professional drivers that in the future can turn into a safety problem. More than five thousand professional drivers have left Serbia in the past several years due to better working conditions in Croatia, Slovakia, Germany, Slovenia and the Netherlands. It is expected that this trend will continue to grow this year, and one of the possible solutions to this problem is a more efficient system of education and training of new drivers, as well as the adjustment of legislation in a way that was conducted by other countries in the region, which have also been affected by this problem.

According to some estimates, education and training of around 2,000 professional drivers is required in Serbia annually, in order to meet the needs of domestic and international carriers. If this number is not fulfilled, and massive departures of drivers abroad continues, regular passenger transport in urban and suburban as well as regional and international traffic in Serbia will be long-term compromised.

The Law on road traffic safety currently in force, which is compliant with European regulations, stipulates that anyone who completes education for a professional driver can drive a truck at the age of 21, while a bus drivers must be older than 24. Other countries in the region have used the opportunity provided by European legislation to lower this age limit, partly solving this burning issue, but also the issue of employment of young people as a particularly vulnerable category of population.

“The education of new staff, but also the continuous investment of employers in employees is essential for improving the situation in the field of transport and logistics in the country. Arriva in Serbia employs 880 workers, providing them with the necessary training, safe and stimulating work environment, as well as the opportunity to develop and improve. This way, we also contribute to the improvement of bus transport services and we create a sound basis for growth and long-term business development in the Serbian market”, said Dejan Bogunovic, General Manager of company Arriva in Serbia.

The potential solution lies in the cooperation of the state, professional associations in this field, but also private operators on the market. Therefore, when a new Law on road traffic safety is to be adopted, arguments of all stakeholders and expert opinions should be taken into consideration.