OASA reaching target of reducing operating costs

Efforts to rein in losses at the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA), which manages the capital?s public transport system, appear to be bearing fruit as the company is on target to reduce its operating loss by more than 50 percent.

According to figures for the first two months of this year, OASA?s operating losses were 13 million euros, compared to 48 million during the same period last year. OASA expects to limit its losses to 30 million euros for the whole year, whereas in 2011 they reached 70 million.

OASA has made substantial savings by reducing the number of bus lines and the frequency of buses. It cut operational costs for January and February to 18 million euros on the back of a 25 percent reduction in wage costs and 33 percent decline in the money spent on spare parts. OASA sources said the fact that some buses are not running and others are running less frequently than before means that they require less maintenance and fewer spare parts.

OASA is also expected to announce soon that the late-night extension to the tram and metro service on Friday and Saturday will be abandoned to save costs. Officials say the revenue from ticket sales does not justify keeping the metro and tram running until about 2 a.m. on both days. The Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) has stopped its late-night service on Friday and Saturday.

However, despite the economic crisis, OASA has only managed to increase its revenues from ticket sales marginally from last year. During the first two months of the year, sales of regular tickets increased to 42.4 million euros from 42.1 million. Sales of weekly, monthly and annual travelcards increased from 19.8 million euros to 20 million.

Sources said that one of the reasons for this rise being so modest is the proliferation of forged tickets, which are sold by counterfeiters at reduced prices. The president of OASA, Dimitris Dimitriou, said the organization did not know how many forged tickets are being used by passengers. ?Can someone estimate how many forged bank notes are in circulation? Using the same logic, we cannot know how many forged tickets are being sold on the market,? he told Kathimerini.