The relocation of Riga Coach Station to the ‘other side’ is becoming more and more realistic, as a proposal has been voiced to relocation Riga International Coach Terminal to Tornakalns. The planned construction of a transport hub in Tornakalns has already attracted funding of EUR 7 million from the European Cohesion Fund, as reported by Transport Ministry.
Mayor of Riga Nils Usakovs previously told Latvijas Radio that the coach terminal will likely be relocated, and that it would be necessary to combine it with suburban and public transport stops in Riga. One option would by building a transport hub beneath the new Central Station. Another includes relocating the terminal to Tornakalns, where it is also planned to build Rail Baltic Station.
As previously reported, the design tendering procedure for the Central Station was won by PLH Arkitekter office. To realize the project developed by architects of this firm, it will be necessary to liquidate the existing Riga International Coach Terminal. This has caused discussions in relation to a new location for the coach terminal.
Considering that the project could potentially affect Origo shopping centre and traders working there, the «dialogue with them has been going well lately,» says architect Peteris Bajars.
Bajars is concerned, however, that the surrounding area will remain as degraded as it is now because of a lack of dialogue.
Bajars told Latvijas Radio in an interview that it feels as though those involved in the process «have no desire to do more». A constructive dialogue is held only with the operator of Origo shopping centre located at the Central Station. And even this dialogue was initiated by the architects.
RB Rail chairperson Baiba Rubesa has a strict view on this matter. She says the project’s money is intended for a specific purpose, not all of Riga’s problems. Rubesa adds that Riga should take the initiative in developing the area around the station. «Residents should ask their representatives in the city how they plan to develop this area. In other cities, when such massive projects appear, authorities think about improving the surrounding environment,» Rubesa told lsm.lv portal.
Although many parts of the project remain unclear, Riga City Council has already announced the project’s goals and costs. «The goal of the creation of a multi-modal transport hub is to stimulate integration and mutual connectivity between transport networks and territories and increase economic health,» as mentioned on Riga City Council’s Development Department’s website.
The department mentioned in its report different benefits of this project: «MMTM project’s realization will help reduce traffic flow towards the city centre, reduce traffic congestion risks and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Riga.»
It should be noted that the development department, which is managed by the city council, reports that relocation of the public transport hub to the left bank of Daugava River is a supported measure, as is the construction of necessary infrastructure for the creation of a multi-modal transport hub there.
Transport Ministry’s representative Viktorija Buraka told BNN that the total applicable funding for this project is close to EUR 8,345,106, which consists of EUR 7,093,340 from the European Cohesion Fund and EUR 1,251,766 from the state budget.
Tornakalns project is not unambiguous – there are plenty of different unclear matters and criticism coming from deputies. Deputy Ligita Vircava from the National Alliance is against the project. As a negative side, she mentions the low efficiency of the regional coach terminal and the possible loan from the State Chancellery. The also doubts the usefulness of the railway electrification project.
When asked about Transport Ministry’s opinion about Vircava’s position in this project, the ministry representative told BNN: «According to data provided by Riga International Coach Terminal as part of preparation of the technical-economical justifications, the terminal services up to 185 bus runs every day. There are many locations often visited by residents in Pardaugava. This includes Latvian National Library, P.Stradins Hospital, Riga International Airport, and others.»