“Public transportation in the capital will continue to operate in a stable manner,” Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony told reporters today after a brief meeting with László Palkovics, Minister of Innovation and Technology on funding for the Budapest Transportation Center (BKK).
Minister Palkovics had invited the mayor to the ministry at 8:00am to attempt to resolve the ongoing spat between the government and City of Budapest over claims that the state still has not paid 12 billion Ft. (US $36.8 million) that the capital says is necessary to keep mass transit running.
The meeting between László Palkovics and Gergely Karácsony lasted only a few minutes behind closed doors, after which the mayor stood alone in front of the journalists waiting in the foyer of the ministry building.
“There were no discussions. We signed the same paper as we did last year, the year before last year, and every year since 2015,” said Karácsony, adding that the amount gets smaller and the date is always different.
It was also not clear to the Budapest Mayor why he had to put pressure on the ministry to get them to pay their share of keeping mass transit running in Budapest, but in the end they managed to sign the contract.
According to the document, the state will transfer 12 billion Ft. in normative funding to the capital this year.
“Today, we’ll stop announcing on BKK lines that the government has not paid its share of funds,” Karácsony said. The mayor stressed that the BKK is currently being funded by loans. However, if the money from the state arrives by the end of the year, the transportation company will be able to close the year without debt.
Gergely Karácsony arrived at the Kossuth Lajos Square subway station, where he explained the situation to Richard Barabás of the Párbeszéd party live on his Facebook page. Walking to the ministry, Karácsony said that the current agreement is the same as what had always been signed between the government and the capital since 2015.
“They just change the year, but the amount has decreased since that time, and is now only HUF 12 billion,” the mayor told Barabás. This only covers 7% of public transportation costs in the capital, roughly the VAT of ticket and pass revenue in Budapest, he explained.
“The state does not actually put a penny into keeping Hungary’s largest transportation system running on a daily basis,” said Karácsony.
City leaders have said several times in recent weeks that the government was “riding free” on mass transit by avoiding its payment obligations. Last Friday, Gergely Karácsony and ten opposition politicians held a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Buda Castle, where they tried to hand over an oversized fine of 12 billion Ft. to Viktor Orbán.
Karácsony had also said that until the money arrives, he would not rule out restricting Budapest public transportation in some way.
[Photo: Gergely Karácsony arrives at the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, Nov. 29, 2021 – Gergely Karácsony / Facebook]