Sofia, Bulgaria


  • Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, has been chosen as being representative of the cities of Eastern Europe making the transition to the European Union; the city has a population of 1.6 million, with three surrounding towns also in the conurbation.
  • The Sofia Urban Mobility Center has been created to be directly responsible for the organization, management, supervision and finance of public transport in Sofia as an integrated process.
  • Formal public transport accounts for 63% of motorized trips, personal car 27%, marshrutka 7% and taxi 3%; modal shares in public transport are 54% bus, 22% tram, 13% trolleybus, and 11% metro.
  • Public transport income in Sofia comes 50% from ticket sales and 7% from related commercial activities, but 43% from municipal and state budgets to compensate for public service obligations in respect of concessionary travel.
  • Most fares in Sofia are flat, and relate to a single trip on a specific vehicle or mode, with any transfer requiring a second ticket or a transfer-ticket valid for 60-minutes; a range of multi-trip tickets are available at progressive discounts.
  • A wide range of travel concessions are available, some (such as war veterans and the disabled) mandated by the State, others (such as pensioners, students and scholars) at the discretion of the Municipality.
  • A transition is under way from traditional paper tickets, validated either when printed or in a hole-pattern punch, to electronic smart-card ticketing; the fixed-track modes have already converted, and buses will follow shortly.

Scope of the Case Study

This case study deals with the framework for fare collection in Sofia and its surrounding area, and the range of fare collection policies and practices that are followed. With only half of public transport income arising from passenger fares, the range of travel concessions and public service obligation compensations are examined.


With the fall of the command economies in the early 1990s, most east and central European countries have sought closer socio-economic and political alignment with the European Union countries. To acquire membership of the EU requires them to introduce common standards and processes across many disciplines and to align their national legislations, technical specifications and processes with EU-common conventions and laws. Timescales have been agreed with each of the accession countries within which the individual countries must complete the transition and to meet the required EU standards.

EU law governs the ways in which governments encourage competition in order to widen participation in economic activities. In transport it requires that those public transport services that cannot be fully funded by fare paying passengers must be subject to competitive tendering where public funds are used to subsidize specific activities. Whilst this approach has not yet been fully adopted in all cities, it is often addressed through requiring publicly owned transport operators to contract their services from their local authority through Public Service Contract. The contracts can expose municipal operators to competition from private sector operators for the supply of transport for individual services. This places pressure on operators to act more commercially.

It is also important that the city transport services closely match the demand for travel so as to minimize wasteful operations; knowledge of demand becomes important.  Operators realize that up to date and accurate information on the use of transport services helps them make best use of rolling stock but that this information cannot be taken from traditional revenue collection methods. For these reasons, the use of modern revenue collection arrangements and fares systems becomes important.

The selected city for a detailed Case Study is Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. It was selected because it portrays a typical set of urban transport characteristics that broadly reflects the progress of many cities in the emergent economies of Central and Eastern Europe. 

City Overview

City Characteristics 

The city of Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and the largest political, economic and cultural center in the country. The Sofia region is divided into 24 districts, according to the Bulgarian Administrative-territorial Division Act. The territory of the municipality also includes the 3 towns of Bankya, Novi Iskar, and Buhovo, as well as 34 villages; their planning and development activities are coordinated with the Comprehensive Plan of the capital.

 Sofia municipal area covers 1194 kms2 and has a population of around 1.6 million. It is the largest city in Bulgaria, with 20% of the national population, yet generates one third of the national GDP and over 30% of national taxation income. It also has a lower rate of unemployment [around 10%] than the national average.

Urban Management

The Municipality is headed by an elected Mayor of Sofia who appoints 9 Deputy-Mayors with specific functional responsibilities, including one for Transport. The Deputy Mayor for Transport is advised by a Transport Commission, made up of representatives of elected councilors with technical support from Municipal function specialists. There are also locally elected Mayors in each of the 24 the districts: the local Mayors address local issues and liaise with Sofia Municipality where appropriate.

Note that the political area under the responsibility of Sofia Municipality relates to the municipal area, whereas the jurisdictional area for the fares charged is slightly different. The transport operators have a few rural services beyond the municipal boundary into the peripheral Municipalities contiguous with Sofia, some of whose residents commute regularly into Sofia. Some of these commuters benefit from the supported services within Sofia yet they do not proportionately contribute funding for service provision.

Urban Planning Characteristics

The Bulgarian legislation distinguishes between two parallel and coordinated planning processes, regulated by separate laws:

  • Spatial Planning, regulated by the Territorial Planning Act; 
  • Regional Development Policy, regulated by the Regional Development Act.

These Acts in turn govern the planning processes in Sofia.  The Territorial Planning Act (TPA), 2001, together with its subordinate Ordinances regulates most aspects of spatial planning: territorial planning (at national and regional level); land use planning and zoning (at municipal and city level); detailed planning (at the city district level). It states the subordination and relationships between different types and levels of spatial plans; the various administrative processes and procedures.

Spatial planning is carried out at national/regional/district levels through spatial schemes and at a local level by spatial plans (master plans and detailed plans). Spatial schemes determine the general spatial and settlement structure, transport and infrastructure networks and facilities with national/regional significance.

Spatial schemes do not have direct development application; they are the local inputs to spatial plans.

Master plans are produced by the cities and towns and determine the local spatial structure, land use and zoning, the structure of the transport and infrastructure networks, environmental protection and cultural/heritage preservation. Master plans govern the development of detailed spatial plans, which in turn govern the development and approval of permitting processes.

The administration for public transport planning and policy development in Sofia is delegated between four entities:

  • the Transport Office and the Deputy Mayor for Transport,
  • the Architecture and Urban Organization/Planning Office,
  • the Sofia Urban Mobility Centre, on behalf of the public transport companies
  • the permanent Transport, Transport Infrastructure and Transport Safety Committee to the Municipal Council.

Urban Mobility and Access Characteristics

The Bulgarian Government recognizes that sustainable urban mobility underpins the long-term economic development of the cities, the quality of life of their inhabitants and the protection of the environment.

The key challenges in Sofia and other major cities are:

  • traffic congestion
  • environmental pollution
  • noise pollution 
  • enhancing the organization of transport
  • improvement of the accessibility,
  • enhancing personal safety and security issues of urban transport,
  • inappropriate parking and weak parking management

Sofia Municipality promotes policies designed for the:

  • development of accessible infrastructure,
  • usage of more environmentally friendly and secure vehicles,
  • introduction of intelligent transport systems for urban traffic control,
  • utilization of integrated transport schemes and charging schemes
  • efficiency of transport sector energy
  • improved sectoral environmental impacts
  • improved air quality
  • mitigation of climate change effects

Transport Financing

Income for Sofia public transport in 2009 accrued: 

- 32% from the general budgetary resources of Sofia Municipality

- 50% from passenger ticket sales

- 7% from related commercial activities

- 11% from the state general budgets

The funding of deficits arises from two key sources –

Sofia Municipality: discretionary funding such as support for some discretionary fare categories [such as for scholars and students and various municipal employees] and support for infrastructure and system development projects, such as the metro extension and for new trolleybuses, tram network extensions and also modern ticketing technologies.

Bulgaria State: funding based on national legislation, for funding discretionary travel for specified groups such as war veteran and disabled persons.

Regulatory and institutional framework

Regulation and Competition

The legal and regulatory framework that determines the activities of urban public transport in Sofia includes:

- Local Government and Local Administration Act, 2001;

- Municipal Property Act, 1996;

- Public Procurement Act, 1999;

- Road Traffic Act, published, 1999;

- Roads Act, 2000;

- Environment Protection Act, 1991.

Most of this legislation has had amendments in recent years.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, and the Roads Executive Agency are government ministries and agencies, responsible for making decisions in the management and improvement of the road transport system.

Road transport regulation related to public transport, and their responsible institutions can be summarized as follows:

- traffic regulation and driving licenses – state and local police

- international road transport authorization – the Ministry of Transport

- vehicle weights and dimensions – the Roads Executive Agency

- road user charges – the Roads Executive Agency

- technical condition of motor vehicles – the Ministry of Transport and then the state and local police

- regulations on driving hours and rest periods – the Ministry of Transport

The Law on the Protection of Competition, 1998, governs for the general protection of agreements, decisions and concerted practices concerning the abuse of monopolistic and dominant positions in the market, the concentration of economic activities, unfair competition and other acts which might result in the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition.

The Law also established an independent Commission for the Protection of Competition [CPC] to administer the legislation. It applies to all entities and activities within Bulgaria. The Commission has a Chairman and eight other nominated Members, who are lawyers and economists. It has comprehensive powers to act in support of its legal authorities.

Urban Transport Regulation

At the strategic level, the Sofia Municipal Council is responsible for the following: 

- determination of strategies for the development of public transport;

- approval of annual budgets for mass public urban transport responsibilities for all operators

- approval of financing compensation to mass public urban transport for its preferentially tariff tickets;

- tariff policies;

- approval of programs for investments in transport communication

- planning and coordination of transport on municipality territory;

- announcement of tenders for transport services;

- private bus operators (public transport of passengers along detached public bus routes).

The responsibilities of the Transport Directorate of Sofia Municipality include:

- tendering for route service contracts;

- issuing licenses for supplementary route operations,

- taxis, incidental and special transport, inter-city and inter-district transport;

- coordination of changes in MPUT routes;

- coordination of projects for the permanent organization of traffic.

Public Transport Regulation 

Traditionally, Sofia Municipal Council has approved operational plans based upon operator forecasts, which have been adjusted from the prior year activities. The parameters considered are:

- annual kilometers run;

- fuel consumption per kilometer run (specified by route network);

- authorized stops;

- compliant vehicles in service;

- service frequency;

- route length;

- kilometers run;

- number of trips;

- hours of operation.

More recently, some responsibilities have been passed to the Sofia Urban Mobility Centre [owned by Sofia Municipality] which is now directly responsible for:

- organization, management, supervision and finance of the Sofia public transport as an integrated process;

- issuing of transportation documents and collection of the transportation revenues;

- unified transport operations planning, vehicle movement time-tables, routes optimization;

- operation of information-management system for monitoring and supervision of the traffic, based on GPS-identification;

- implementation and operation of unified automated fare collection system (ticketing system);

- advertising and information services in public transport;

- infrastructure maintenance, repairing and construction, including: railways, contact and cable nets, rectifier stations and outdoor equipment;

- parking and mobility.

The Traffic Coordination, Control and Safety Department of the SUMC continuously monitors the performance of public transport activities and coordinates and controls hourly performance and can intervene to address emergency situations.

Urban Public Transport Operations


Along the main roads into the city centre, Sofia has chronic traffic congestion throughout long periods of the day on weekdays. Accessibility to and within the extensive central area is hampered by:

- taxis stopping anywhere without notice;

- inadequate parking management;

- widespread parking on pedestrian pavements;

- many vehicle movement conflicts;

- private car ownership contributing to increased congestion.

Sofia offers all the main modes of urban public transport except suburban high-frequency commuter rail services. However, heavy rail is important for inter-city passenger trains [it is the national hub] and for freight traffic.

Modal split for personal mobility in Sofia is dominated by public transport with 63% of the population using it for their daily travel needs, 27% relying on a personal automobile, 7% taking a ‘marshrutka’, and 3% taking a taxi.  Walking and cycling do not feature as transport modes in the official statistics. 

The Municipality states that the modal split among public transport passengers in 2010 was:

  • Bus transport: - 54%;
  • Tram transport: - 22%;
  • Trolleybus transport: - 13%; and
  • Metro transport: - 11%.

The expansion of the metro system and forbidding private transport on key central area thoroughfares [whilst retaining public transport modes] have been introduced to encourage public transport use.


In 1993 the four municipal bus companies were consolidated into one company which itself became an independent municipal joint-stock company, AutoTransport Plc in 1999. It currently operates from 3 garages at Zemlyane, Malashevtsi and Druzhba, and is responsible for 63 bus routes.

There are also three privately owned bus operators [who operate within the regulations of the Public Procurement Act]:

- Karat-S Inc. [25 routes]

- Union-Ivkoni Ltd. [3 routes]

- Eridantrans Ltd.  [1 route]

The municipal operator has 519 vehicles aggregating around 31 million kms annually with an average age in 2010 of 16 years. The private operators had 241 vehicles aggregating around 12.4 million kms annually with an average age of 2 years.


Commonly known as ‘marshrutkas’, the minibuses are a transport service that developed around 1998 operating as a hybrid concept between a taxi and public transport. They are run by private companies using mainly second-hand minibuses; the routes are fixed, while the stops are determined by the passenger preferences. Marshrutkas run faster than formal public transport as they do not observe traditional bus stops and the vehicles are more maneuverable and accelerate quicker than formal transport vehicles. Fares are higher than for other public transport modes.

Trams and Trolleybuses

ElectroTransport is the municipal company responsible for the tram system and also the trolleybus system. It runs 16 tram routes using 294 trams with an average age in 2010 of 23 years, as well as 9 trolleybus routes using 153 trolleybuses with an average age of 19 years. There are three tram depots and two trolleybus depots. The two modes generated 16.3 million kms.

TramKar is the municipal tramcar refurbishment and construction company, responsible for fleet renovation. New rolling stock is sourced externally, and 30 low-floor trolleybuses are currently being procured and introduced into service.

ElectroTransport is supported by TransEnergo, also a company, which provides the power supply for the tram and trolley overhead networks and also maintains the infrastructure and operates the electric transport power supply system. This is delivered by 24 substations supplying 264 kms of tram overhead electric power lines and 257 kms of trolleybus overhead electric power lines through a 740 kms cable network.


Metropolitan, the municipally owned underground railway, currently has 14 stations along a single line, linking the western suburbs of Lyulin, Obely and Zapaden Park with the city centre. An extension of the current line with two new stations is in progress, and a new Line 2 with 7 stations between Lozenets and Line 1 at Nadezhda is planned to open in 2012.

Fares Policy and Practice

Fare Collection Framework

Traditionally the municipalities sought to recover costs of transport production. The transport operators had provided services that had been based upon a level of transport supply approved by the Municipality. The costs of production were then forecast which in turn enabled the Municipality to set an annual subsidy based upon those costs less the forecast revenues from passengers.

Currently there is an annual negotiation between the Municipality and its municipal public transport companies where the level of service, the network of operations and the allocation of transport fleets is agreed and, based upon the generated distances accruing from these operations, an level of subsidy, payable monthly in arrears, based upon the authorized fares, is approved.

The arrangement is embodied within a Public Service Contract which specifies the standards and quantities of service to be provided within a legal basis under which the Municipality [through the Sofia Urban Mobility Centre] and the operators fulfill their detailed contractual obligations in order that the companies obtain their public funding.

The Municipality wishes to develop competition for the supply of public transport services through open tendering by both the municipal operators and by private operators. Currently four private sector operators have been awarded Public Service Contracts for the supply of services. The methods of pre-qualification to bid for the supply of services are not known.

The Sofia Urban Mobility Centre is responsible for the monitoring of the activities embodied within the contracts and also for research and development of public transport activities generally in the City, including research upon pricing and costing of public transport modes. 

Periodically the Municipal Council seeks to revise fares. They request advice upon prevailing conditions from the Sofia Urban Mobility Center which in turn makes recommendations of any changes to fares or structures or fare products to the Transport Commission which reviews the proposals and may take further independent advice before making proposals to the full Municipal Council. Sofia Municipal Council then takes the ultimate decisions upon tariffs. The consultation process includes publication of proposals and the consideration of comments submitted by the general public.

The tariff policies are based on a flat fare regardless of start location, distance travelled or time elapsed.  The price setting mechanism is based upon a standard single trip ticket price which is designed to cover operating costs, although, in addition, around 12-14% of Sofia Urban Mobility Centre revenues are consumed by compensation for municipally authorized concessionary travel trips.

Note also that in recent times Sofia Urban Mobility Center led the development of a modern ticketing system for the tram and trolleybus networks, where the use of paper tickets has been replaced by smartcards. Smart-card ticketing will be introduced on the bus network in 2012, but conventional paper tickets are still being used in the interim.

Fares Policy

Public transport fares are approved by Sofia Municipality.

Traditionally, the balancing of costs and the maintaining of services by municipal operators to prior-approved municipal standards and levels of service have been the dominant criteria in tariff setting. The subsidy takes account of revenues anticipated and expenses forecast in providing the agreed level of service. The capital costs for vehicles and transport infrastructure are a substantial budget item as well — the amount varies, dependant on investment programs and these activities are negotiated separately. The concept of affordability of tariffs by the passengers is not documented.

The setting of tariffs considers the affordability to users so that transport costs are perceived to have a reduced impact on poor families and also encourages the wider use of public transport. The array of concessionary fare products available to disadvantaged groups indicates that public funding for the disadvantaged remains a policy objective. However, in recent times, increased general prosperity has resulted in increased private motoring.

The phased migration from traditional and bureaucratic fare collection systems to the use of modern smartcard technologies indicates that the long term cost, time, security and data management and transport planning benefits of the new systems are recognized by the authorities.

Fares Practice

Most fares are flat and relate to a single trip on a specific vehicle/mode with transfer to another vehicle or mode requiring the purchase of a second ticket. The exception relates to the 60-minute timed ticket which enables the holder to make one change within 60 minutes of ticket purchase [not first boarding] to start a second trip. These tickets can only be purchased off-system from agencies and ticket offices. There is no differentiation in ticket cost whether purchased on-vehicle or off-system on buses, trams or trolleybuses. The metro underground system fares are separate from those of surface modes.

Fares are differentiated only by the category of passenger [adult or concession holder], although 1/3/6 month period passes can be differentiated by the number of pre-specified routes. Return, weekly and off-peak tickets are not available and whilst passes are inter-available between trams and trolleybuses, no other interchangeability is allowed. Private operator ticket products are independent of each other and of the municipal transport systems.

Revenues are collected by operators and agencies and credited to the Sofia Urban Mobility Centre. These revenues are then distributed back to operators by a designed formula that accounts for the municipally approved production plan that generates the annual planned seat-kms operated by each municipal mode, adjusted against variances identified from operational controls and monitoring – the monitoring and adjustment basis is managed by the Sofia Mobility Centre.

Standard Fare Products

There is a comprehensive array of ticket offers available, including an array of concessionary travel offers. Some tickets are only available on buses and others are only available on trams and trolleybuses and others are only available on the metro system.

Standard adult single trip tickets cost Bulgarian Leva [BL] 1.00 – they can be purchased from:

- the driver

- on-board ticket vending machines on trams and trolleybuses

- ticket vending machines at ‘Metropolitan’ underground stations or by cashiers at the underground ticket offices

In addition, the following tickets can be purchased only from ticket kiosks/agents:

- 2-stage 60 minutes transfer ticket (bus/tram/trolleybus and metro):   BL 1.60

- 5-trip voucher ticket (valid for one passenger): BL 4.60

- 10-trip voucher ticket (valid for one passenger): BL 8.00

Note that the two-stage transfer trip ticket is a time-based product whereas all other tickets are trip based.

The following can be credited to smartcard tickets for use on trams and trolleybuses:

E-ticket for 10 trips (valid for one passenger): BL 8.00

Separately, the following can be credited to smartcard tickets for use on the underground system:

E-ticket for 5 trips (valid for one passenger): BL 4.50

E-ticket for 10 trips (valid for one passenger): BL 8.00

The following penalty fares apply:

penalty fare for passenger without a valid transport document: BL 10.00

ticket for passenger with a non-validated travel smartcard: BL 1.00

In addition, non-personalized travel cards available are:

1-day travel card – all lines: BL 4.00

5-day travel card – all lines: BL 15.00

1-month travel card – one line: BL 23.00

1-month travel card – two lines: BL 40.00

1-month travel card – all lines: BL 50.00

3-month travel card – one line: BL 65.00

3-month travel card – two lines: BL 105.00

3-month travel card – all lines: BL 130.00

6-month travel card – all lines: BL 255.00

12-month travel card – all lines: BL 500.00

Issue of Non-Personalized Concession Travel Cards, Art. 21a:

smart card for travel at standard fare   BL 3.00

smart card for travel at concession fare  BL 2.00

Concessionary Fare Products

An array of personalized travel cards are offered that provide travel at various concessionary rates.  These can be considered under two groups:

- those with a statutory right, mainly funded by central government;

- those of local discretion to determine and fund – non-statutory concessionary categories, such as students and other perceived disadvantaged people.

The key issues in considering concessionary fares include:

- the basis of funding support;

- the population and take up rate of the identified concession groups;

- the legal framework within which funding is provided;

- the capacity and will of the concession group sponsor to provide the funding;

- the legal redress for late or deficient payment.

Usually the Municipality [or transport authority] will act on behalf of all participating transport operators and for the concession proceeds to be distributed in prior-agreed proportions.

The following groups attract travel concessions in Sofia:

- registered pensioners;

- registered students

- registered PhD students

- school scholars

- students from homes for children without parental care

- mountain control and rescue employees

- spouses of public transport employees

- retired employees – public transport

- registered disabled

- war veterans

- disabled veterans and victims of war 

- state officials under Art. 209 of the Interior Ministry Act

- state officials under Art. 80 of the National Security Agency act

Note also that Marshrutka [informal minibus] fares are usually BL 1.50 per single ride. There are no fare concessions offered and passengers pay during the journey.

Fare Collection and Travel Validation

Fare Information

Information concerning bus, tram and trolley bus fares is available at most central area stops and at other important stops, at all ticket  sales kiosks and at travel offices and on the vehicles.

Single trip tickets can also be purchased from drivers on boarding, but this is discouraged.

Travel Validation

The following arrangements apply to travel on municipal public transport:

for a single journey, the ticket must be punched in the nearest punch machine immediately after the passenger gets on the vehicle. The punch identifies the vehicle, as all punches on a vehicle have common punch pattern characteristics. However, the range of punch pattern characteristics within the transport system is limited.

for a single journey ticket sold by the driver: immediately after the passenger gets on through the door at the front end of the vehicle, a ticket must be purchased from the driver and punched at the nearest punch machine.

for a single journey ticket issued by ticket machine in trolleybuses and trams, the ticket becomes effective at the moment of its issue by the ticket vending machine, with the date, time, vehicle number and bus stop number printed on the ticket. Warning: A ticket purchased from a ticket machine in a tram or trolleybus is only valid for a single journey in the vehicle in which it was purchased.

for two-stage journeys (bus/tram/trolleybus and underground) the ticket is valid for 60 minutes: with this ticket two journeys maybe made in 60 minutes – one on a bus/tram/trolleybus and one on the underground. In the bus/tram/trolleybus the ticket must be punched in the nearest punch machine immediately after boarding on the vehicle, with the journey’s starting time indicated. In the underground the ticked is validated by the validators, placed on the entrance barriers to the underground.

tickets with vouchers for five or ten single journeys of one passenger (each ticket is valid in the relevant set of 5 or 10 vouchers).These tickets consists of five or ten single journey vouchers that have the same number, and may be used only by one passenger. The relevant ticket voucher must be punched in the nearest punch machine immediately after boarding the vehicle. A ticket voucher may also be used to pay the luggage charge provided that the passenger is travelling with a voucher from the same ticket.

electronic tickets for five or ten single trips for one passenger, credited on a travel smartcard – in trolleybuses and trams: these tickets must be validated at the validators placed near the doors immediately after boarding the vehicle. Each time the fare is collected the number of remaining journeys is reduced by one. Note that these electronic tickets for five or ten single journeys for one passenger credited on a travel smartcard are available only in trolleybuses and trams.

penalty fare for passenger without ticket: The ticket shall be issued and verified by a ticket conductor and entitles the passenger to continue his journey on the same vehicle The penalty ticket value is equivalent to ten times the single fare and is a deterrent to evasion.

for trolleybus and tram passengers who have not paid the fare and have a smartcard travel pass, a ticket is issued and validated by a ticket conductor and entitles the passenger to continue his journey on the same vehicle.

children up to the age of 7 travel for free and without a ticket/travel card.

Note also: 

tickets may be purchased from all travel card outlets and ticket desks of the Sofia Urban Mobility Centre, as well as from commissioned retail outlets;

E-tickets for five or ten single journeys for one passenger may be credited to a travel smartcard in all travel card outlets of Sofia Urban Mobility Centre.

Ticketing Technologies

The Municipality supports the development of modern ticketing technologies. Benefits usually accruing from modern ticketing systems include:

- improved and comprehensive operator information on travel demand;

- expansion of range of travel products, including passenger type segmentation;

- improved information on concessionary fare travel, enabling justified accurate costing.

By 2010 all 466 trams and trolleybuses had on-board ticket vending machines, complete with 1830 validators. 400,000 smart cards are in use, with 30 sales outlets issuing and re-charging the smart cards. There were also 130 hand-held inspection devices using by inspection staff.

In 2011, a project to manage the procurement of compatible equipment for the municipal bus operator also to migrate to smartcard ticketing is in progress.

Revenue control

In addition to conventional ticket inspection controls, which demonstrated low levels of productivity, Sofia has experimented with ‘privatized’ revenue protection. Under this system, penalty-fare tickets were sold to citizens (particularly pensioners) at a discount to their face value. These citizens would then usually work in groups, traveling incognito on the public-transport system, observing their fellow passengers.

When a fare evasion offence was detected, the citizens would then impose the full penalty fare on the perpetrator, with their reward coming from the discount at which the ticket had been sold to them. By working together in groups, they were able to impose the penalty fare on virtually all offenders identified.

Reportedly the productivity of this program was significantly higher than that of the official channels, and acted as a real deterrent to fares abuse. Unfortunately, though, motivation of the individuals can only be retained where fare evasion, and hence the chance of detection, is high. Clearly, this declines as the program becomes increasingly effective.