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Latvian Transport Administration demanding closure of Lux Express route.

TALLINN, Aug 9 (LETA--BNS) - The Estonian operator of intercity buses Lux Express recently started carrying passengers between Riga and Daugavpils, the Latvian Road Transport Administration, however, demands the Estonian operator cease the operation, Postimees reports.

Lux Express recently launched a bus link between Riga and Daugavpils through the Lithuanian city Birzai, thereby cutting travelling time by 30 minutes compared with local Latvian operators. Ticket prices on the Lux Express line are also lower by four euros.

The Latvian Road Transport Administration has protested the operation, the Latvian news program "Tonight" of LTV7 television station reported.

The route is currently also operated by two local companies, Nordeka and Daugavpils Bus Park, which won a public procurement for the service of the route, whereas one of the tender requirements was that the operator pass and stop in other Latvian towns, such as Aizkraule and Jekabpils. Travelling time on this route totals three hours and 40 minutes.

"Tonight" reported that Lux Express effectively operates two routes -- one between Tallinn and the Lithuanian town Birzai with a stop in Riga, and the other one between Birzai and Daugavpils. However, most people who board the bus in Riga allegedly travel to Daugavpils.

The Latvian Transport Administration said that Lux Express is operating the routes at such low prices with the aim to accumulate and establish a customer base by the time the local transport network, including the Riga-Daugavpils route, is opened to all operators in 2021.

Latvia must either compensate Nordeka and Daugavspils Bus Park, whose passenger numbers have declined 17 percent, the costs relating to their passengers switching to Lux Express, or decrease the number of subsidized routes. The latter would mean that the passengers who want to get off in other stops between Riga and Daugavpils in Latvia, will no longer be able to do so.

The Latvian Road Transport Administration has already turned to Estonian authorities to have Lux Express' permit for operating the Tallinn-Birzai route revoked. Should the Estonian authorities refuse to do so, the Latvian transport administration says it will prohibit Lux Express buses from stopping in Riga, in which case Lux Express has said it does not rule out taking legal action against the state of Latvia.

Lux Express has also turned to the Latvian Corruption Prevention and Prevention Bureau in relation to the Latvian Road Transport Administration's activities. The Estonian operator argues that the agency's demand to see the Tallinn-Riga-Birzai route closed is unlawful and may serve the other market participants' interests.

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Publication:LETA
Geographic Code:4EXLA
Date:Aug 9, 2019
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