picture of Budapest tram

A new feud is brewing between the Hungarian government and the City of Budapest, with Budapest mass transit riders possibly suffering the consequences.

Early on Tuesday, media reports had stated that public transportion in Budapest could shut down later in the week if the government didn’t immediately pay its portion of the funds required to operate it.

According to Index, the government has contributed 12 billion Ft. (US $36.6 million) to mass transit every year since 2017. When former Mayor István Tarlós of Fidesz previously led the city, these funds typically arrived around August or September, but now the capital does not even have a contract with the government for funding.

“Essentially we need this money from November 25 to continue financing the operation of public transport, as Budapest has already contributed its share of 108 billion Ft. (US $329 million),” said Deputy Mayor Kiss Ambrus.

However, Kiss appeared to contradict earlier reports of the Budapest Transportation Company (BKV) shutting down by expressing hope that the government would transfer the necessary funds by Thursday. If not, the deputy mayor said that the BKV can still be financed with loans until the end of the year, while reminding passengers that the government is not living up to its responsibility.

An agreement was reached between Budapest and the government on the matter in 2004, in which the capital would receive an annual subsidy from the government for public transportation. Gergely Gulyás, Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office, had promised Gergely Karácsony that these funds would continue to be paid by the government after the Párbeszéd politician was elected mayor of Budapest in 2019.

The Ministry of Innovation and Technology announced that it had already drawn up a contract ensuring the transfer of the subsidy and its conditions for use.

[Index]

By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.