While Budapest Mayor István Tarlós and government office chief János Lázár keep exchanging messages about the fate of the capital’s worn-down blue subway line, the opposition LMP party said it will collect signatures in the coming weeks to demand the full-scale renovation of the line, including the provision of wheelchair access.
At his weekly press briefing Lázár announced that the cabinet had earmarked HUF 137 billion for renovating the M3 line. The government is “the biggest supporter and not an enemy of that project”, he insisted.
But it will not take responsibility if services stop, because its funding decision was made before the deadline, Lázár added. “We have asked the city council to give new Hungarian buses a chance [as replacement for services during the metro upgrade] several times. We can’t do much more than that.”
The day before his briefing the Budapest city assembly had cancelled its earlier decision to order new buses to replace M3 while it is closed for renovation. The municipality decided instead to solve the problem by using the Budapest transport company’s existing buses. The assembly approved the proposal by 23-2 votes, with one abstention.
Budapest Mayor István Tarlós remains distrustful and said the day following Lázár’s press briefing that the renovation is in danger. He was seriously concerned and had the impression that “certain people have the intention of thwarting the plan”.
Tarlós said he had contacted Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on the matter as a last resort. He accused Lázár of “laughing in the face of Budapest residents and simply belittling the metro problem”.
The opposition Socialists called for an assessment of the safety of M3 and demanded that services on the stretches that are not 100 percent safe should be stopped. Budapest representative Csaba Horváth said that thanks to the hard work of Budapest transport company BKV workers, tragedy had so far been prevented on the line, which transports 3 million passengers daily.
On Saturday it was the green opposition LMP’s turn to weigh in. Speaking at one of the M3 stations, Antal Csárdi, a Budapest councillor of the party, said the government “is gambling with the lives of Budapest residents” when it refuses to see the importance of the metro reconstruction and will not start the work immediately.
“We often hear from Fidesz that there is no money for this,” Csárdi said, adding that the HUF 40 billion the state did not pay to the Budapest Transport Centre (BKK) to finance agglomeration transport would provide sufficient funding to renovate the metro stations.
Csárdi said “it is wrong to think about Budapest … as if it were a small settlement”, adding that the city is the heart of the country and they expect the government to treat it in a worthy way.
Councilor Erzsébet Németh of the opposition Democratic Coalition echoed statements by the Socialist party and demanded that Tarlós should shut down the M3 sections that are classified as dangerous by experts. Németh called on the mayor to name those who are obstructing the reconstruction.