Smart Mobility for Montenegro

By , 05 Jul 2018, 12:11 PM News
Smart Mobility for Montenegro Pixabay

An opinion piece written by Gunther Fehrlinger on July 5, 2018. 

Montenegro is amazing, it got most things right. NATO, Flat Tax, EU progress, Euro, massive foreign investment and decent urban planning. It is a spectacular success in most aspects. Congratulations! But tiny rocky Monte has a challenge – how to get there and how to get from one amazing resort to the next. And how to see the amazing reality Montenegro has to offer outside the luxury port resorts? Once you are on the roads of Montenegro you are on your own in wild Montenegro – and any mistakes can be deadly. 

Most international tourists fear Montenegro for that and once here they stay at the pool in their resort or take taxis, buses or public transport. This is not good enough for EU Member Montenegro and not good enough for next level of development. Does Montenegro want to be an island of top class resorts connect by developing country roads? And the current roads are far from the capacities of yesterday’s reality and lightyears from what is required in 5 years from now.

Has anyone noticed how much additional accommodation capacity is currently built in the touristic center of Coastal Montenegro? And how should anybody get to and from there and even more how to go from one amazing tourist attraction to the next or is the idea to be trapped in the place you bought or booked just because it is hard work and quite dangerous to drive anywhere or to even to park?

Or is Montenegro meant for Yacht owners mainly? Montenegro has managed to attract amazing wealth, and more to come – but a tourism industry and European style economic development is SME focused. Every house, every family and every village in the coastal area must be included in a broad based touristic and service culture prosperity trajectory of Montenegro now in the second decade of its amazing success story. Much has been done and much needs to be done. In this article ETR wants to focus in the mobility aspects as this is the key specific challenge for rocky & rocking, amazing but spatial limited Montenegro. It is time for smarter mobility solutions. 

Congratulations for the Northern Highway – Impressive, Amazing but only political useful 

After Montenegro Government has decided and partly implemented the impressive Northern Highway to Belgrade and seem determined to build it fast towards the border with Serbia there will be little further resources available for other projects. So, all further solutions will have to be financed with revenue generation and price and payment is anyhow the best incentive for rational use of scarce resources so Montenegro has to clearly raise revenues from mobility. Road tolling is already a fact in Sozina tunnel and the road to Trebinje. And the ferry over the Kotorbay is already with a price tag. But this can only be the beginning. From start the new highway to north needs to be tolled like in Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia. After the recent protest in Albania and Kosovo this will be reality finally as well in the southern and Eastern neighbors and Montenegro has to do that as well to at least make the maintenance cost reflexive to ensure that further highway construction is possible. 

The future European arteria of prosperity – the Central Adriatic Highway - Medjugorje -Milot

The real highway Montenegro – and the EU – needs is the Adriatic Highway connecting Central Europe with Greece via Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania as an alternative to Corridor 10 via Serbia and to connect the now NATO harbor from Croatia, Montenegro and Albania in secure and reasonable manner. This will be the prosperity arteria alongside goods and people, tourists and logistics service will develop even faster once Montenegro is in EU. A target which is easily achievable for Montenegro early in next decade and once EU is ready can be achieved faster than currently common assumed feasible.  There seems still a debate on expensive and environmental negative routing of Adriatic Highway along the coast with bridges and tunnels under or over the Boka Bay and similar expensive nonsense like crossing south of the Skadar Lake in prime natural reserves of Ulcinj towards the flood plains of Velipoje in Albania and connecting there in Milot with the existing highway to Kosovo and Tirana. This is utter nonsense, who can afford this and the EU will never pay nor finance such an environmental intrusive highway in the most stunning landscape of Europe. And it makes economically no sense for Montenegro. Montenegro has for a good reason a working spatial plan and there the Adriatic Highway connects Bosnia – the A1 is already finished until Medjugorje and then the major population centers Nikisic, Danilovgrad and Podgorica, Tuzi and then to Shkoder, Skadar north of the Skadar lake. It is now 330 km missing and with EIB, ERBD and EU grants and a clear decision to built it along that corridor it can be ready in five years from now, by 2023 Central European Tourist and drive from Germany to Greece on a European Highway and it will be the whole southern Balkans to the next level of prosperity. By then Montenegro will be in EU or at least very close ahead of the EP election 2024. 

The Adriatic Highway is the prime development project for Central Montenegro

Highways connect population centers and nowhere in World you drive by highways into coastal luxury resorts. Please see the routing of the Dalmatian highway always inland with decent normal connection roads to the coast. Highway driver need no views. And all who have ever been close to one of Bosporus bridges and suffered the noise do you really think any of your property owners or tourist or the residents want such a bridge with such a noise? Do you know the debate on transit on the alpine pass of Brenner between Austria and Italy? And yes, there is now a tunnel build with EU support but that tunnel is connecting the major economies of Germany and Italy and this will never the case here in Coastal Montenegro. No, the highway has to be build inland – it is a development project for Central Montenegro - close to Nicksic and Podgorica and not on the coast. The issue of the coastal traffic has to be solved with smarter mobility solution than highways connecting PortoNovi or Porto Montenegro. What is needed at the coast is obvious and already planned by Government of Montenegro in spatial plan mostly. 

Smart mobility in Coastal Montenegro 

For Coastal Montenegro – one of the most impressive natural landscapes of Europe from Herceg Novi to Ulcinj and dominated by two wonders of the World the Kotor Bay and the Skadar Lake there need urgent a set of smart mobility measures as outlined blow.

The principle is simple -avoid traffic – reduce, and seasonally restrict it and make it more expensive. Holidays at sea sides are expensive and the is nothing like a right to enjoy nature for free in special places – Coastal Montenegro is such a special place. True this is controversial in the post socialist context and it is controversial in Austria.

The Austrian Alpine Lake & Mountain Tourism Model – Example for Coastal Montenegro

Do you think it is easy in Alpine village or Austrian lakes, of at French or Spanish Rivera or anywhere where tourism has transform blessed natural places in providing wealth for regions used to poverty with great views? Europe has all the answers and please visit any of the tourist location and compare yourself to the prime touristic destinations and use similar solutions. But policy makers need to win the consent of the users and residents and voters we have specific solution to reduce the costs for resident and multiusers according to EU standards which should be applied. But consider - a party of 50 in a flat is fun, with 100 it is fun when you are student, with 150 it is time for leaving and with 200 it is the police intervening and enforcing stopping the nonsense for public safety ground. Where space is limited monetary incentive and disincentive are working best to regulate access and usability. Nothing gets lost and everybody still can go but not every day for free. Please talk to another tourist destination. Visit Alpbach, Hallstatt, Como or any of the great Swiss resort villages or Austrian or Italian mountain lake village the Kotor Bay can be compared. Como, Alpbach, Attersee or Hallstatt please see them and how they solved traffic, transit, truck, public lake side access, combining resident rights with tourist access and using great tool of resident yearly cards for ferries and gondolas and next to that having touristic association creating value for local business with touristic cards available for all booking local accommodation. All this is easy to access and please just visit Como, Alpach, Hallstatt or any EU tourist attraction from Croatia to Austria to Spain to Sweden and talk to the tourism authorities and really it is relative simple to improve the value creation of Coastal Montenegro and is amazing potential. In this article ETR wants to concentrate on smart mobility solution for Montenegro. 

ETR is concretely proposing the following projects.  They are not in geographic order nor in priorities and all - be sure - will be done in next decade but the faster the better. Please see who things are done under EU condition in Croatia and Austria and with EU Accession and under same regulation similar solution are the future of Montenegro as well.

New reasonable road projects for Coastal Montenegro - no Highways but better roads!

  • New Upper ring roads – 4 with highest priority for Podi to Krusevic-Kamenari, Tivat Ferry to Tivat Airport, Budva Jaz Beach  to the new existing Cetinje Road and Bar Upper Ring Road from Sozina Tunnel to Krutje. This is not so complicated – Montenegro Road Authorties have planned it anyhow. Just do it. Montenegro knows how to build Magistrale Upper ring roads. Start and get it done. But do not build such structures anymore in the Inner Bay of Kotor endangering the UNESCO protection, no to such upper Ring Road in Kotor, Risan, Morinj, the Inner KotorBay traffic has to be reduced by tunring it into one big outdoor resort with traffic restrictions. 
  • A new Orjen Magistrale from the new 3rd border crossing east of Sutorina connecting with the Trebinje and Niksic Road beyond the coastline along old Austrian road on concession basis like Trebinje road – this 3rd border crossing with Croatia linking east of the Sutorina present crossing north of Ljuta with the back road to the Cilipi Airport.
  • A new Ulcinj – Velipoja border crossing – similar as a toll concession road with seasonable restrictions for truck at that customs point.
  • Based on the Trebinje tolling concession success model ETR is advising extending and tolling both the coastal Herceg Novi Croatia border crossing to and the main international border of Herceg Novi and tolling them, again softening the effect on residents from the 3 border communities via the yearly resident card to be bought at the 3 regional municipalities and guiding transit traffic via Bosnia A1 – B6, Inner Montenegro Podgorica to Skadar and along the future Adriatic Highway.
  • Extend the Airport Tivat to Budva Jaz beach to a decent 4 lane Magistrale
  • Finish the Budva Sozina 4 lane renovation.

New Martitime Transport Focus for Coastal Montenegro 

. 1. Opening of 4 new car ferry ports Bijela South, Lipci Oit Terminal, Tivat Airport, Herceg Novi Sutorina.

2.  New Ferries route based on competitive tender according to EU regulations from connecting the new Ferry Airports.

3. New Car Ferries from Herceg Novi Sutorina -River Port to Tivat Airport. Turn the Sutorina Harbour into a new Ferry Terminal. Anyhow the current monopoly if not EU compatible and is wrong, Ferry traffic must be opened on reasonable and justified basis.

4. A new hop on hop off ferry during in the Inner Bay on scheduled service during the tourist season as well during evening to avoid drink driving. 

5. More small beach ferries from Jaz beach to Budva similar to the Pajo shuttles in Herceg Novi. It is key to get the beach travelers from the road to the sea. It is anyhow a amazing end and start of a great beach day and much better than in the traffic jam of Budva, Kotor, Bar or Tivat after a great day at the beach. If this works in herceg Novi why not in all coastal beach centers?

New Traffic restriction and Road Safety Measure for Coastal Montenegro 

1. Heavy truck interdiction of the Adriatic Magistrale during the touristic season implemented by closing the Herceg Novi and Ulcinj customs controls for trucks during the summer and forcing them inland Niksic Tuzi road -simple stop customs facilitation at Herceg Novi and Sukobina during season and inform all logistic companies. All should drive the Inner Central Montenegro road during season.

3. Speed limit of 30 kmh in all coastal Adriatic Magistrale from Southern Exit of Bielja to Tivat Airport during Touristic Season including all Inner Boka Bay during all touristic season.

4. Strict police supervision with technical support for speed limits, drinking and driving and reckless driving. Strictest supervision of drinking driving from event location to convince population of using taxis and public transport for events in night. 

5. Major tourist buses have to document access to hotel or pre-arranged booking to access sites. Vienna as well is forcing the buses out of City Center. Never popular but necessary. Access to Inner Boka Bay or Inner Coastal Cities only for 20 Person Mini Buses.

6. Turing the Inner Bay of Kotor the UNESCO World Heritage into on united gigantic outdoor resort and not a speed, transit or rally area. The vision is missing here in Montenegro. UNESCO means little to Montenegro but it is big deal – the Inner Bay is World Heritage and turn it into World Class Resort. Simple into one big outdoor event place. Like a magic multi- usage pedestrian zone.

7. The Inner Boka Bay will no longer be a transit truck route but a kind of Marihilferstrasse Pedestrian Road with traffic forbidden during beach time touristic season from 1200 to 1800.

8. And open for local commercial supply and toll paying access traffic only from 7.00 to 1200 and for non-commercial later evening entertainment from 1800 to 2400 and with night time traffic reduction during sleeping hours. There is no need to trucks passing night time disturbing the sleep of anybody. Get organized with public service from 7 to 1200 and fine with that. 

9. European Road Safety standards will be anyhow part of the European accession as will be stricter enforcement of road and driving regulation and it will come to a unpleasant surprise of some who take Wild Montenegro a bit too literal but it will make Montenegro a prosperous country and destination of many of your fellow 510 Million Europeans who want to discover the Wild Magic of Montenegro and not the wild aspects of being hit by a wild driver or hit by a truck whole walking in a swim shirt on the beach road. 

10. All these access and speed limit should be enforced with technical measures like sleeping policemen speed bumpers and as well with electronic manners.

4th Focus – New road tolling, ferry price, parking fees, beach access price structures

  • Build all the coastal access road from the border to the Coastal Montenegro from Croatia and Albania as concession projects like the Podi – Trebinje road. That means 5 news concession projects 4 in Herceg Novi – one in Ulcinj.
  • The right of free movement is not restricted by road tolling if there is reasonable pricing system with softening the effect for multi- user and resident with yearly access cards to be bought at the municipalities for all residents.
  • Road tolling and Ferry costs to be reduced to all residents of Coastal Regions and neighboring Konvale, Cro and Trebinje, BiH, and Skadar Al buying yearly usage abo tickets for residents. This is EU law compatible – please make it for residents not for citiziens. Such systems are standards in Austrian and European tolling for roads as well for Ferry or as well for Gondolas.
  • Road tolling for the Inner Boka Road from Ferry Kamenari to Kotor Tivat Tunnel
  • Regulating all Coastal Montenegro municipalities as restricted urban parking and paid parking SMS parking system and enforcing it. Not only the cities but all of Coastal Montenegro during the touristic season.
  • These measures should make the construction of the access roads to Coastal Montenegro feasible and raise revenues for the long term.
  • The Adriatic Highway has to be built with EU support.
  • All Highways obviously should be tolled from the start. 
  • The Adriatic Magistrale extension from Tivat Airport to Jaz should be built by GoM funds. The Jaz beach road to Upper Budva could be a consession project as well. The Extension of the Budva Bar Adriatic Magistrale should be done by GoM budget. The upper ring of Bar should be done as part of the highway link with Podgorica Bar with will anyhow be a major intervention and is very necessary to link Podgorica and the new highway better with the main port Bar. 

5th Focus Airport Access and connecting the Airport better - focus on Podgorica Airport

All these matters, a lot as well because access to the better-connected Dubrovnik Airport is key for next step for development as many tourists prefer to come by plane even with the Adriatic Highway being finished hopefully before 2030 there is an amazing Croatia shoreline and it will always be closer to Germany, Italy, Poland and Austria and Central Europe which is in driving distance. So, the airport matter and it is urgent to get better regular connections for Podgorica. Tivat is excellent but hear the noise over Tivat and this will increase and how nice to be in Porto Montenegro and soon the resident will ask for Airport restriction in night when charter airlines prefer to fly and small capacity of Tivat it will reach its limits soon and you need it for charter and the luxury jet access. 

So this mean Podgorica Airport and if you need a tunnel please then first from Podgorica to Budva to compete with Sozina and for sure not under the Boka. But first please build the highway Podgorica to Bar which really makes sense given it is the main harbor as well a NATO harbor and a major economic center. But there is that? The resources for the north make already that a challenge and so please let us focus on what can be done and what bring concrete effect. Broaden the Podgorica Airport Cetinje Budva and the Podgorica Sozina to Bar and back to Budva Magistrale – there a lot was done already and the rest can be done without major effort. And why the Tivat Budva part of the Magistrale was not already broaden when all space is there is a mystery. Clearly the focus on Budva and the lack of resources but it would help Budva as well in terms of access to have a good road to Tivat Airport. And there opposite of the Jaz Beach can be build a big hub connecting the new magistrale to Tivat Airport and the access to the upper ring road of Budva. The newly done Cetinje Budva road needs only to be continue from the upper serpentine straight towards Lastva Grabalska. And again, make a road concession. Who wants to be fast and secure needs to pay or take the bus. In Austria we have a yearly ticket for highways, pay for most tunnels extra and parking is mostly 40 Euros a day in Central Vienna. And again, the social aspects for the residents have and can be covered by such yearly resident cards or multi user reduction. Try the Austrian model for the vignette for a year this avoids traffic jams and social issues. And raises significant revenues during all year and ensure that the traffic is well regulated and managed and tourism based on smart mobility will bring Montenegro on an amazing new level of prosperity. Simple visit Croatia, Slovenia and Austria and check what we are doing in our top level touristic areas. This is the future of Montenegro just next door north and a few hours driving. And here climate, landscape and inherited cultural treasure allows for even bigger success then up north – if the infrastructure and mobility challenge is solved smarter. And ask yourself do you want to stay a Balkan road challenge of smooth smartly forwards to new levels of prosperity? Smart mobility is the key to that next level. 

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