With the support of EU regional funding, the Bulgarian city of Burgas invested in modernising and integrating its urban transport system. The project included the development of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line, the renewal of the bus fleet, and the development of an integrated network of bicycle paths. The investment was supported by financial and technical work developed in collaboration with experts in the context of the EU’s JASPERS mechanism.
The BRT was developed to link the northern and southern parts of the coastal city and was integrated with the city’s existing urban and suburban transport network. The BRT routes were developed largely on existing roads, although in parts it is completely segregated from other traffic. Where the route using existing roads, part of the road has been designated as a bus lane for the exclusive use of the BRT buses at peak times. The system also involved amendments to traffic signalling along the route to provide priority for the buses.
Many new bus stops were improved or introduced along the BRT route, which were located and designed to maximise the integration with other bus lines. This included the redesign of three major stops – in the centre of the city, at the rail station and at the southern end of the line – to improve comfort, accessibility and the safety of users. A number of pedestrian bridges were been constructed to improve safe access to the BRT stops.
Another important part of the project was the renewal of city’s bus fleet, with the procurement of 28 articulated, Euro V buses to operate on the BRT line, as well as 39 new methane buses to operate on the remainder of the network. All of the buses were designed to be low floor buses in order to facilitate access for those with mobility impairments or those with luggage. At the same time, the bus depot was reconstructed to facilitate the modernisation of the maintenance and refuelling facilities, including the need to provide two different fuels to the city’s buses.
In addition to the new buses, new electronic ticketing and passenger information systems were introduced. These provide information to users in real time through information displays at bus stops and is facilitated by the integrated management system for public transport that was introduced at the same time. An integrated cycle lane network was also introduced as part of the integrated urban transport project. Sixty kilometres of cycle lane now connect the city's centre to its surrounding neighbours and are also connected to the other main elements of the city’s urban transportation system.
The city authorities do not see the completion of the BRT and cycle networks as the end point in the development of their integrated transport network. Further work will be undertaken to develop the BRT system and explore the potential to develop a bus terminal for long-distance travel.