NEWS

Ticket inspectors out in force on public transport

A new team of ticket inspectors began a fresh drive on Monday to combat fare dodging on Athens?s public transport system, which is estimated to cost some 50 million euros a year.

The 150 uniformed inspectors will board buses and trains – accompanied by police in some cases – with the aim of cutting down on such losses by at least 10 percent by the end of the year.

It is expected that the team will double in size this autumn and will cost the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) about 500,000 a year. However, OASA expects to earn much more from the decrease in the number of fare dodgers, who are estimated at 15 percent of the 850 million passengers that use public transport each year, and from the fines that will be imposed by the inspectors. Anyone caught without a valid ticket on buses, trolley buses and trams will have to pay 72 euros, while fare dodgers on the metro or the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) will be forced to cough up 84 euros.

According to OASA?s statistics, most fare dodgers are found on buses, where the proportion of people who do not buy a ticket is roughly 40 percent.

The issue of fare dodging has grown in prominence in recent months due to the actions of the ?I won?t pay? movement, which has on several occasions put plastic bags over ticket machines on buses and at metro stations.

The government is also due to introduce electronic tickets in a bid to combat fare dodging. A tender is due to be launched on Tuesday for an 82-million-euro contract to install a smartcard system on the public transport network.

Transport authorities hope that the electronic ticketing will be in place at some point next year. The smartcards will be loaded with credit at stations, at ATMs or via the Internet and mobile phones.

Meanwhile, the process of transferring 1,440 public transport employees to other sections of the civil service began yesterday. Public transport workers were given almost 5,000 public sector places to choose from.

At the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE), the process of transferring 1,654 employees has also begun.