“The issue of big cities as an engine for economic development and competitiveness is increasing in the focus of European and international policies. Big cities face common challenges and their role is key to achieving cohesion between all regions. I am convinced that with the results we have achieved in Sofia in recent years, our city is a successful example of the closeness of politics to people’s lives. Our biggest projects were completed with the support of our European partners and the Bulgarian government. We are demonstrating what an integrated approach in management means.”
Ms. Yordanka Fandakova is currently serving her fourth term as Mayor of Sofia, having first held office in 2009. Between 2005-2009, Ms. Fandakova was Deputy Mayor of Sofia Municipality in charge of Education, Culture, Sport and Prevention of Addictions. Before starting her political career, Ms. Fandakova worked at the 73 Vladislav Gramatik (Sofia High School) as a teacher (1985 to 1998) and later as principle (1998-2005). She graduated from Sofia University ‘St. Kliment Ohridski’ with a degree in Russian Philology
Mayor Fandakova and the Sofia Municipality are prioritising the development of Sofia as: a green, smart, innovative and tech city, a city of the people and for the people, hospitable to local and foreign businesses and citizens, and encouraging the participation of various stakeholders and partners in making the right decisions for the city.
Mayor Fandakova has implemented a program to modernise and increase the use of public transport in Sofia in order to improve air quality and stimulate economic growth and sustainability.
Sofia has an extensive bus and tram system and an expanding rapid transit network. More than 90% of public transport vehicles in Sofia were replaced in the last five years, leading to a 2.5 times decrease in emissions. The city has an intelligent traffic management system with 205 controlled junctions, prioritising the movement of public transport vehicles. The time spent at controlled junctions has been reduced by more than 30%, and vehicle emissions at junctions by 25%. Electric scooters and parking areas for electric scooters and bicycles are provided in the centre of Sofia as part of the city’s ‘Shared Travel’ initiative.
Sofia’s metro is being extended to include a third line that will link Sofia Airport to most business zones, the central Rail and Bus station and the largest residential areas. When complete, the total number of passengers carried on Sofia’s metro lines is expected to reach 600 000 people/day, reducing traffic and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 90,000 tons per year.
To improve the accessibility of public transport more than 85% of vehicles in Sofia are low-floor or equipped with low-floor platforms. Drivers are trained in the use of the platforms and are required to assist passengers with reduced mobility. To further assist those living with disabilities, Sofia also has more than 1,046 electronic information boards (EIBs) equipped with voice notification devices.
Mayor Fandakova is tackling climate change through effective and sustainable waste management. The City of Sofia operates an Integrated System of Installations and Facilities for Recycling, Treatment and Recovery of Waste, consisting of the ‘Sadinata’ Landfill, the ‘Khan Bogrov’ biological waste treatment centre, green waste composting, and a mechanical biological treatment plant with Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) production capabilities. The waste management system reduces the environmental impact of the city’s waste, through improved rates of recycling. A Cogeneration Plant using RDF is under construction. The plant is expected to provide electricity for 30,000 households, heat 40,000 households, reduce fine dust particles, carbon monoxide emissions, nitrogen oxides, CO2 emissions and consumption of natural resources. In just 10 years, Sofia’s landfill has gone from 100% to 16% and, with the completion of the Cogeneration Plant, the rate is expected to fall below 10%, meeting the European Commission requirements by 2030.
As part of Sofia’s ‘Ancient History of Sofia, Cultural and Historical Heritage Accessible to All’ project, four historic sites in the city have been restored to preserve them for future generations, increase the attractiveness of Sofia as a tourist destination, and provide public spaces for enjoyment by city residents and visitors. The four sites are the West Gate of Serdica Archeological Park with remains from the Late Antiquity period (IV – VI c.), the Triangle Tower of Serdica dating back to the time of Emperor Justinian (527-565), the Reinforcement of the Construction of the St.Sofia Basilica (IV c.), that gave Sofia its current name, and is one of the elements of the city’s coat of arms, and Serdica Ancient Cultural and Communicative Complex, combining the ‘Largo’ zone with an archaeological exhibition. The project restored the historic sites and revitalised exhibition spaces through the introduction of interactive technologies and development of open-air museums. The project makes local historic culture more accessible to children, disadvantaged groups, and the public generally.