Air pollution and smog are frequent concerns in major cities throughout the the Czech Republic, but this year Prague officials are planning to offer a bit of a reprieve to its residents.
While the city failed to pass new regulations to limit factors that lead to smog, Prague’s Deputy Mayor Petr Hlubuček announced last week plans to launch a new public information campaign during times of peak air pollution, which are estimated to be coming up in February and March.
Those plans also include an allocation for free public transport for all Prague residents and visitors during times of smog emergencies, to allow all travellers a reprieve during times of air pollution.
The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (CHMI) issues smog warnings during peak times of air pollution on a sliding scale. According to Hlubuček, even the lowest-level smog warning would warrant free public transport.
The project is estimated to cost the city 10 million crowns per day.
Prague is Czech Republic’s second-most polluted city, coming in behind only Ostrava. But while pollution in the Moravian city is blamed on industry, in Prague automotive transport is the culprit.
Despite being a major metropolis where having a car is not a necessity, the number of cars per person in Prague is greater than in the rest of the country. There’s one car for every 1.9 people in the Czech Republic, but that number is 1.5 in the capital.
“In Prague, most of the exceedances of the air pollution limits are related to the traffic load, but also to the heating of households, especially in the areas with family houses,” explained the CHMI’s Head of Information Systems air quality Václav Novák.
High-traffic Prague districts such as Smíchov, Stodulky, Suchdol and Libuš are often found to have the highest levels of air pollution. In the city center, Legerova street near I.P. Pavlova reports the highest levels of air pollution.
The city’s plan to introduce free public transport during times of smog and air pollution is expected to be approved on Monday, February 4.