Capital’s pay-and-display scheme in disarray

Athens parking system dogged by staff shortages and dispute over profits

Staff shortages following the unraveling of Athens’s municipal police force and a dispute over profits have left the capital’s pay-and-display parking system in disarray, Kathimerini understands.

The scheme, whereby motorists had to purchase a scratch card allowing them to park in specially designated spots in the city center, was suspended last summer as a result of the government’s decision to disband the 300-strong municipal police force, which was in charge of supervising the scheme. When parking patrols came back into effect, the task was undertaken by a new municipal department that numbered no more than 25 staff.

“There is no afternoon shift anymore, thus drivers who are familiar with the situation do not really bother to buy tickets during the afternoon,” said Yiannis Ramfos, chief executive officer of DAEM, the City of Athens IT Company.

The breakdown of the system prompted a rise in illegal parking, the scourge of the capital’s mostly narrow and congested streets. At the same time, profits from the scheme dropped by two-thirds during the first half of 2014 over the same period in 2013.

City of Athens sources told Kathimerini that some 100 police officers, who were transferred from the municipal police to the national police service (ELAS) under the government’s mobility scheme, will be tasked with handing out parking tickets.

Meanwhile, the scheme is also the subject of an ongoing row between the private supplier of parking tickets and kiosk owners selling the tickets over the outlets’ profit margin.

Although about 100 kiosk owners in the city center have agreed to a recent deal that reduced their profit margin from 4 to 3 percent, about 36 kiosk owners – most of them in the high-end Kolonaki area – are boycotting sales unless their percentage is raised to 5 percent.