Regular readers may recall that I spent a fabulous weekend in Sveta Nedelja several weeks ago, where the local authorities showed me around the town’s tourism and business attractions. Both seem to have the little town just outside Zagreb rather a desirable place to be. Last month, it was voted the best medium-sized town in Croatia for the economy for the third year in a row, as well as being in the top 5 towns for quality of life. An impressive double.
One of the things I remember from a very enjoyable weekend was a question from the then deputy mayor, Davor Nadji.
“Is there anything we could be doing better? Anything you see that is missing in our town?”
It was the type of question I may have expected in a previous life, but since moving to Croatia, I have become used to public officials telling me how great they are and taking credit for everything (much of which has little to do with them). To seek out advice or suggestions from a visiting foreigner? Very rare.
I promised I would try and come up with something, but it is not that easy when it comes to Sveta Nedelja, for here is a town which is VERY different. And they seem to have thought of everything already.
In an age of mess emigration, population decline and economic crisis, here is a town where the population has increased 10% since the 2011 census, jobs have increased 20% since 2017, unemployment is at just 3.9%, and there seem to be more kindergartens than anywhere I have seen in the country. Add to that the most transparent administration in Croatia, with local business taxes slashed, and it is hard to find anything to suggest.
Especially when they deliver on other innovative initiatives, such as free bus transport. As we reported previously, Sveta Nedelja Mayor Dario Zurovec announced the news of Facebook a few weeks ago, also sharing a video test run explaining how the system would work:
Today I signed a contract with the bus carrier Arriva to provide a bus service in the area of the town of Sveta Nedelja. We will announce the exact start date of the traffic soon, after we have just solved a few small formalities. Passengers on local buses will not have to buy tickets. Below you can read how the concept was conceived, and we will inform you about the exact schedules and timetable just before the start of operations.
As part of our free public transport we will introduce 3 lines to Podsused that allow you to connect to trains. In this way, passengers will have more favorable conditions because the ticket will not cost them anything until they change to the train. Additionally, this way you avoid traffic jams on the roads to the center of Zagreb or even the east, and it is possible to travel to Zaprešić. Those who do not like the train will be able to continue their journey on ZET buses:
* from the Podsused roundabout towards the Ljubljanica and Črnomerec
Also, at the other end of one of the bus lines, it will be possible to change to ZET in Kalinovica (on the old road) and from there travel to the Sava Bridge.
As for traveling to Samobor, there is an option to travel to Sveta Nedelja or Strmec by free public transport and then change to Samoborček / Autoturist.
The introduction of free public transport does not mean that existing bus carriers stop running. So, they continue to operate, because their lines are inter-county and county, which is why they are not under our jurisdiction. This means that the same Samoborček / Autoturist lines continue to run at the same prices to Zagreb and Samobor until these carriers decide otherwise.
In the future, we intend to further improve this free public transportation service.
With the current legal framework, this is a big step forward and far better than the model we have had so far. This concept of city transport allows you to get anywhere within the city of Sveta Nedelja without paying a ticket, and to get to Zagreb quickly and for a very low price because you only pay the train or ZET. Also, this will make the trip to Samobor cheaper. In addition to all that, departure times will be frequent throughout the week, but also on weekends and holidays, while night lines will also run on weekends and holidays. The carrier was selected through a public tender, the value of the contract is about 4.2 million kuna per year and is financed entirely from the town budget.
In this way, Sveta Nedelja has once again become an example to other towns in Croatia. In addition to the quality of service to citizens, additional benefits of this kind of public transport are that there will be fewer cars and less traffic jams, fewer traffic accidents, less CO2 emissions, with of course a more favorable situation for your home budgets.
Thanks to all my collaborators and Davor Nadji who worked with us on this project until recently. I am happy that we are fulfilling our promises, and we will not stop there. More good news for our Sveta Nedelja is coming soon!
The new free bus service went into operation on December 1, a nice boost for the local population in these challenging times.
The service will be free for everyone.
Annual travel passes are being prepared for local residents. The initial routes will undergo an initial 60-day test period, during which times the routes and departure times will be assessed. Any changes thereafter will be communicated well in advance. The authorities are also open to suggestions from the public and have set up a designated email address for this purpose – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sveta Nedelja is a great story which we will be following is more detail over the next 12 months and more, a true example of how things CAN work in Croatia. Here is an overview of the first part of my first visit to Croatia’s newest town – read more in Sveta Nedelja Beyond Rimac: Jobs, Innovation, Nature, Population Growth.
You can follow the latest in the Sveta Nedelja revolution in our dedicated TCN section.