ECONOMY

Aged vehicle fleet on streets to get older with new law

A recent amendment to the law for the deregulation of taxis and tour buses, which increases the age at which they have to be replaced, has likely dealt the final blow to Greece?s flagging vehicles sales industry, especially in regard to those intended for professional use.

At the same time, amendments to the contentious Law 4070/2012, whose formal title is ?Regulations for Electronic Communications, Transportation, Public Works and Other Directives,? are also expected to add to the already excessive number of aged vehicles in circulation on the streets of Greece, an issue that is also raising concerns about the impact such vehicles will have on the environment and public safety.

Specifically, Law 4070/2012 raises the retirement age for taxis with up to 1.9-liter engines from 12 to 15 years, and for vehicles for professional use with over 1.9-liter engines from 14 to 18 years.

These limits are to be enforced in Athens and Thessaloniki only. In towns with fewer than 3,000 residents the retirement age for cabs is 24 years, while for other parts of Greece it is 20 years.

Tour buses have also seen an increase in their retirement age, which, based on a law from 2001, was set at 23 years, while now, under the law drafted by Transport Minister Makis Voridis, the age is 27 years.

The argument put forward for this significant increase in the retirement age for professional vehicles is that the crisis is making it difficult for owners to replace their cabs and buses at shorter intervals. At the same time, however, professionals in the vehicle sales market warn that beyond environmental and public safety concerns, the cost of maintaining a taxi running routes in central Athens and over 10 years old would ultimately be greater than the cost of replacing the car altogether.

Experts also note that Greece has the oldest fleet of vehicles in circulation in the European Union. The average age of cars in Greece is 10.5 years, compared to an EU average of 8.2 years. The average age of trucks and buses, meanwhile, is 18 in Greece — putting the country well ahead of its EU peers — a figure that is partly due to the fact that many such vehicles are imported in used condition. In March 2012, for example, 51 buses hit the streets of Greece for the first time, yet just 13 were new and of these, eight were public transport buses.