Air pollution has been a consistent challenge in Sofia and despite recent positive developments, the city is still exceeding the minimum thresholds. While some factors – like the geographical location in a plateau surrounded by high mountains causing winter thermal inversions – are beyond human control, other causes are linked to human activity. The city is growing fast in terms of population and new residential and office districts. The number of vehicles registered in Sofia raises daily. There are 550-600 cars per 1,000 inhabitants. Bulgarians drive some of the oldest cars in the EU: in 2017, one-fourth of all vehicles were older than 20 years and an additional 60% – were between 10 and 20 years old. Traffic in Sofia has the highest impact in terms of pollution of ambient air.
Sofia is taking ambitious steps to electrify and expand public transport options. The city will launch “On-demand green public transport”, which will shift the way public transport works. Instead of driving on pre-defined routes, the new e-buses will create route map based on citizen demand submitted via mobile application.
The app will leverage machine learning and advanced data analytics to create the most efficient path for each ride, collecting as many passengers as possible. This innovative public transport service will be implemented together with a wide array of initiatives: low emission zones, green corridors, congestion charges and promotion of active mobility. This coordinated effort of Sofia shall reduce pollution and protect the air we share, while also modernising and innovating our public transport.
INNOAIR introduces transformational innovation in the form of "On-demand green public transportation", which will revolutionize urban mobility in Sofia. The project delivers a set of tools that will reduce single-vehicle drives and improve air quality in the city. Upon completion of INNOAIR, the city will have a pool of coordinated policy tools, including:
- "On-demand green public transportation", formed by a platform with machine learning and advanced analytic capabilities and mini electric busses;
- Congestion charge model;
- Low Emission geospatial urban zones, preventing vehicles from entering the city center and certain areas on polluted days;
- Green corridors for active transport.
The project will result in significant behavioral change and broader use of public and active transport. PM and CO2 emissions will be reduced, contributing to the improved quality of air and citizen health.