Starting from mid-November, SASA will take over 30 additional bus routes serving the catchment areas of Bolzano/Bozen and Merano/Meran. The contract was signed on 1 October 2021.
Earlier this year, the South Tyrol government put several lots, i.e. catchment areas, of its extra-urban bus routes out to EU-wide tender. In a recent resolution, it decided to award one of the available areas – lot 11 – to SASA, an in-house company of the province and the municipalities of Bolzano/Bozen, Merano/Meran and Laives/Leifers.
On 1 October 2021, South Tyrol Minister for Mobility Daniel Alfreider and SASA President Francesco Morandi signed a service contract stipulating that SASA will be commissioned with all bus routes running between the city centres of Bolzano/Bozen and Merano/Meran and their respective catchment areas.
South Tyrol Minister for Mobility Daniel Alfreider: “With this crucial step, the Provincial Government aims to make even better use of future synergies while ensuring high-quality services and connections for all passengers and promoting sustainable mobility both in the cities and in the surrounding areas.”
Starting with 14 November 2021, SASA will operate some 30 new bus routes for a total of ten years. The newly distributed routes include those serving Val Passiria/Passeier, Val d'Ultimo/Ulten, Val Sarentino/Sarntal valley and all the main routes of Bassa Atesina/Unterland and Oltradige/Überetsch.
A clear shift towards more sustainable forms of mobility
According to the Minister, the main objective is to shift the modal split, i.e. the share of different types of transportation taken by passengers, more and more towards sustainability – and to create attractive alternatives to private cars, with a major focus on cities and other large conurbations. With an increasing number of buses running on clean power, the project simultaneously benefits the environment.
In reference to the European tender and the upcoming re-allocation of the remaining ten lots, Martin Vallazza of the Provincial Government’s Mobility Department described the plans as “a pivotal transformation in the public transport sector,” calling on passengers to be a bit patient during the initial transition.
New additions to a growing fleet of sustainable buses
An important part of the new agreement is the expansion of SASA’s fleet of sustainable vehicles used on bus routes outside of city centres: The company already has a service contract for inner-city bus services, and with its five electric vehicles and 17 hydrogen buses, in Italy, SASA is already considered a nationwide pioneer in the sector. Now, the goal is to gradually build and expand its emission-free fleet over the course of the next ten years. By 2030, SASA aims to have converted more than 100 buses to alternative fuel technologies and put them to use on its extra-urban routes.
SASA director Petra Piffer: “With this new service contract, the government has given us a clear mandate – and we are pleased to take on this trailblazing role in the implementation of a key technological transition.”
“The new routes and this service contract will usher in a whole new era for SASA. With some 600 employees and our buses serving up to 15 million km per year, we’re all set to become the largest provider of local transport services in South Tyrol,” SASA President Morandi added. “Our aim is to reduce the strain on cities in particular – with the help of gradually converting to quieter, low-emission vehicles by 2030,” he concluded. (LPA)