Transportation in Bulgaria
Sunday, 08 April 2012 21:26
After the second terminal of International Airport Sofia was built the total number of passengers reached 3 230 696 in 2008, and in April 2011 Airport Sofia serviced 282 694 passengers, 13% more than the same period of 2009, when the record was 250 000 passengers. In 2011 passenger traffic at Bulgaria's three major airports - Sofia, Varna and Bourgas - grew up to near 10% on the year to 3.89 million in the first half of 2011, due to rise of customers using international routes and launch of new destinations.
Rail transport in Bulgaria is readily accessible and generally comfortable, and the rail network serves all the larger populated places in Bulgaria. The railway lines cross all land borders of Bulgaria.
The European Orient Express service also crosses the country. Narrow-gauge railways have been constructed to reach the less accessible places in the country and to serve destinations with a smaller number of passengers. Tickets can be purchased at railway stations, at transport offices in towns and cities, and at the tourist agencies. International tickets are issued at the offices, agencies and international desks at the station of embarkation.
Bulgaria’s water borders are along the Danube river and along the Black Sea coast. The primary sea ports offering marine transport in Bulgaria are the Varna and Burgas ports.
Travelers can enter Romania through the local ports near Durankulak, and can enter Turkey through Rezovo. These points are used for small seagoing vessels in transit rather than those embarking from Bulgaria’s territorial waters.
Along the Danube River, there is a border checkpoint near the village of Vrav, as well as at other cities and towns along the river: Vidin, Lom, Oryahovo, Ruse, Tutrakan, and Silistra. Both passenger and freight water transport is available all along the Danube River and the Black Sea coast. Prices and travel schedules depend on the season, the type of vessel, and its category. There are also many private seagoing carriers, both yachts and motorboats, traveling to local landmarks and offering river or sea tours to both individuals and groups.
Building new highways is one of the top goals of the 2009 elected government of Boyko Borisov, therefore new roads and highways are regularly opened for use.
In the early 2000s, Bulgaria had some 37,300 kilometers of roads, all but 3,000 of which were paved but nearly half of which (18,000 kilometers) fell into the lowest international rating for paved roads. 324 kilometers of high-speed highways were in service in 2005. As of July 2012, 554 kilometers are in service. Roads have overtaken the railroads as the chief mode of freight transportation.
Long-term plans call for upgrading higher-quality roads and integrating the road system into the European grid. The focus is on improving road connectors with Turkey and Greece and domestic connections linking Sofia, Plovdiv, and Burgas. Bulgaria has delayed building some key highway connections since the 1990s, but European Union membership is a strong incentive for completion. The National Strategy for Integrated Infrastructure Development calls for construction of 720 kilometers of new highways by 2015.
A 114-kilometer link between eastern Bulgaria and the Turkish border is scheduled for completion in 2010. As of 2004, two international highways passed through Bulgaria, and a major highway ran from Sofia to the Black Sea coast. Proposed international corridors would pass from north to south, from Vidin to the border with Greece and from Ruse to the border with Greece, and west to east, from Serbia through Sofia to Burgas, Varna, and Edirne (Turkey). A new bridge link with Romania is scheduled for completion in 2011, relieving road and railroad congestion in that direction.
There are international bus lines to most of the European capitals and to other European cities. Through Turkey there is a bus connection to the Middle East and Egypt. Bus tickets can be purchased from designated offices, bus stations, the carriers themselves, and tourist agencies in larger towns and cities.