“People Mover” (PM) is a monorail project, which would link Bologna Railway Station with the “G. Marconi” Airport. It will cost approximately 100 million Euros, and will be built using both private and public funds. This project is facing growing grass-roots opposition in Bologna, with opponents arguing that the same result could be obtained by improving the metropolitan railway service, thus reducing overall costs. Furthermore, the project presents a general problem for long-term financial sustainability. If there are fewer users than expected – and this appears to be the probable future scenario – the township will have to re-pay a huge debt (up to 1.4 million Euros per annum, over a period of 15 years).
The company that won the contract for building PM is Consorzio Cooperative Costruzioni (CCC), a member of Legacoop, the association of the so-called “red co-ops” and a well-known sponsor of the centre-left political alliances. In fact, for the last 40 years, centre-left coalitions have ruled many local administrations and the regional government in Emilia-Romagna. In this region, one of the few “red” Italian regions, the Democratic Party inherited the former Italian Communist Party’s (PCI) political hegemony. This has produced a well-functioning welfare system, with some of the best nursery schools and kindergardens in Europe. However, it also created tight links between the political administrations and regional businesses, mostly ruled by the co-ops, with consequent regidities in the decision making processes. In the last decade, local administrations have been criticized for the lack of long-term urban planning and for financing projects of questionable social utility. Moreover, they have steadily privatized the effective public welfare network.
CCC created a company to administrate PM, shared by the local trasport public company, ATC, which was implicated in the “Civis case”. Civis was another big and expensive public transport project, launched by Giorgio Guazzaloca, the only centre-right-wing Mayor the city has ever had. Its building sites began in 2007 but were blocked in 2011, because the Civis tram (built by IrisBus, a Fiat owned company) never passed the safety tests. Guazzaloca and seven others are currently under investigation: the ex-Mayor is accused of forgery and corruption for an assignment of 100,000 Euros that he obtained from another Fiat owned company just after the end of his government. The three persons under investigation are fromATC.
Both Bologna’s current administration, led by PD Mayor Virginio Merola, and the centre-left government of Emilia-Romagna, together with the main professional associations of entrepreneurs, are favourable to People Mover. Nonetheless, in September 2011, the growing opposition of Bologna’s citizens formed the “No People Mover” committee. They ask for the dismissal of the PM project, more investments in the existing railway lines and a cut in the price of transportation fares, which having been going up in the last years. They also claim to be ready to occupy the PM construction site, if necessary, just as the No TAVmilitants are doing in Val di Susa.
More than 3,700 bolognese citizens signed a petition asking for a public inquiry into PM, but their request was mostly ignored. This led to a demonstration that blocked car traffic during Bologna’s famous Motor Show. Protestors also broke into a City Council meeting, stopping it and chanting slogans against PM and political representatives. The Committee is also trying to build a network with public transportation workers’ unions, commuter associations and other local committees, to stand up against the waste of public monies and for a truly useful and ecological transportation system.