The previous government’s social policy with regard to public transport has created a gaping hole in the revenues of the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA).
According to reports, the shortfall came about because of the free transport offered by the SYRIZA-led government to metro commuters in 2015, when capital controls were introduced.
Moreover, OASA has also been burdened by the scheme allowing the unemployed to travel on all modes of public transport for free, which was introduced in 2015.
Officials say the measures overburdened the agency’s coffers as it was never reimbursed by the government, which, in the absence at the time of a personalized electronic ticketing system, never had a clear picture of the number of commuters that benefited.
Due to this, the cost of the measure allowing the unemployed to travel for free was not included in the budget of the Labor Ministry for years. As a result, OASA was never properly compensated and is owed around 150 million euros.
The new deputy transport minister, Yiannis Kefalogiannis, has said that among his main priorities is to begin talks with the Labor Ministry in order to resolve the issue.
On a brighter note, the full implementation of the personalized electronic ticketing system has now made it possible for more accurate estimates to be made with regard to the number of commuters that benefit from free or discounted travel.