rules of the game

Yellow and blue submarines

13.02.2012 | By Lev Ilyin

Ukraine is a young post-Soviet state. Life here differs in many ways from countries of the Big 20 group, or the European Union. There was a reason that the head of EURO 2012 Organizing Committee Ukraine Markiyan Lubkivskiy, who used to serve as Ukraine´s ambassador to Croatia described the problems that our country is facing in connection with EURO 2012, including those related to public transport, as civilizational.


Ukrainian public transport brings a wealth of exotic impressions to our foreign guests. Many people think the way our drivers behave on the roads is strange. For example, on route taxies many passengers hop on through the rear door and pass forward their fare to the driver through other passengers´ hands. Also, there are no air conditioners in buses and trolleybuses and there are many other oddities that Ukrainians believe are absolutely normal.

In particular, U.S. Peace Corps volunteer Cliff Brown was surprised to see cars parked right in the streets or on the sidewalks. There should be multi-story or underground parking lots in the city center, says Cliff, This is how your central streets differ from streets in American or European cities. There you will not find a car parked practically in the middle of the street obstructing traffic. In Kyiv, it is a normal thing everybody parks on the street.

French post-graduate student Pierre Duval is not happy about the low culture of drivers and the absence of road signs in English. Everybody drives however they want. Very few drivers do the courtesy of giving other vehicles the right of way, they honk, cut you off and overtake wildly. Europeans might not like that. You need to have more signs in English. Many tourists will simply get lost in the city. The names should be in Ukrainian and in English. This applies not only to EURO 2012, but the whole tourist infrastructure in Kyiv, he said.

British businessman Michael Greenwood was surprised by the small yellow buses packed with people in Kyiv. This reminded me of Africa, says Michael, In summer it will be very hot and unsanitary in those buses. Meanwhile, your subway is great cheap and clean.

All this is true. We have other standards of transport, other ways to pay the fare, other tickets, etc. Of course, this will not be changed over the several months left before EURO 2012.

However, first of all, serious efforts are being taken to ensure that the guests of EURO 2012 get where they need to with minimum inconvenience. Secondly, these inconveniences are matters of experience and habit. Many foreigners that study or work in Ukraine eventually they adapt and stop noticing those peculiarities. As for the yellow buses that impressed Michael so much, the streets in Ukraine´s four host cities will be overloaded with them during the days of EURO 2012. Bohdan buses have proven to be the most suitable for passenger transport inside the city. They have high maneuverability, take less space at bus stops than large buses and are more comfortable than smaller route taxies.

People prefer to take Bohdan buses for the mere reason that they do not have to open the doors themselves, says Vitaliy Polonchuk, a driver of a Kyiv route taxi. I think that for EURO 2012, the greatest number of buses will be directed to the central routes of the city. The guests will unlikely travel on them to Kyiv´s bedroom communities. In any case, there will be just enough buses, because if there are too many of them in the center they will simply get stuck in traffic jams.

Host cities have their own specifics. In Kyiv and Donetsk, the stadiums for EURO 2012 are located in the city center, while the arena in Lviv is located on the city´s outskirts and transport for fans travelling to the stadium will have to be organized. The transport departments of local mayor offices understand their tasks and are try to maintain control over the situation. Therefore, there is certainly hope that the guests of EURO 2012 will travel around the Ukrainian cities without much trouble, even if they have to take the strange looking yellow buses. Perhaps they might even remind fans of famous yellow submarine to which the classic Beatles song was dedicated.

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