Air pollution in Sofia goes way back and despite recent positive developments, the city is still struggling and exceeding the minimum thresholds. This is a complex problem. 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 additional 60% – between 10 and 20 years. Traffic in Sofia has the highest impact in terms of pollution of ambient air.
Through INNOAIR Sofia is taking ambitious steps to electrify and expand public transport options. Between July 2020 and June 2023 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 much passengers as possible. This innovative public transport service will be implemented together with a wide array of initiatives: low emission zones, green corridors, congestion charge, promotion of active mobility. This coordinated effort of Sofia shall reduce pollution and protect the air we share, while also modernizing and innovating our public transport.
The project partnership, led by Sofia Municipality, includes 2 universities: Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski”; 2 non-for profit organisations: Sofia Development Association, National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria; 2 companies: Sofia Urban Mobility Centre, Modeshift Europe EAAD; and 1 national public authority: National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology. Thus, strong collaboration of city administration, scientists, business and citizens is ensured.
INNOAIR project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative. This is the first Bulgarian project selected for funding by UIA.