The combined effects of burgeoning fare-dodging, the government’s decision to abolish charges for using public transport when the banks were closed for three weeks ahead of the introduction of capital controls last summer, and the debts of ministries and state services to the public transport companies have brought the system that allows millions of residents and visitors to get around the Greek capital every day to its knees.
Recent data show that even STASY, the company that operates the capital’s metro, electric railway and tram systems, is sinking into the red despite a history of relatively healthy finances, with losses after taxes in 2015 coming to 78.2 million euros from 36.4 million euros the year before.
Fare-dodging is one of the greatest concerns, particularly since the disbandment of a corps of volunteer ticket inspectors a few months ago and a spate of attacks on regular inspectors and transport facilities that indicate growing public disdain for the transit system.
Unofficial estimates put the cost of fare-dodging to the transit system at between 40 and 60 million euros per year, though more detailed figures are not available.
The available data for ticket sales so far this year are not encouraging either, as revenues from individual tickets and passes dropped 23.4 percent to 37.7 million euros in the first three months of the year compared with 49.2 million euros in the same period of 2015.
The administrations of Athens’s transport companies are hoping for a reversal in the situation with the introduction of electronic tickets, which, however, are not expected to be brought into use before next summer.