Bid to keep transport fares down

The Transport Ministry is looking for ways to avoid having to raise the price of public transportation by cracking down on ticket evasion instead, which is believed to cost the state some 25-37.5 million euros in losses a year in Attica alone.

Fare dodging in Attica on fixed-track transport is estimated to stand at around 10-15 percent and on buses and trolley buses at a higher 15-20 percent. However, the ministry says that the number of fines issued in the first half of 2012 is 20 percent higher than it was in the same period last year, and believes that curbing fare dodging is the best way to curb losses and averting the need to raise fares.

One of the proposals the ministry is considering is increasing the number of ticket inspectors on public transportation using staff from within the country?s public transport company through a redistribution of duties. The aim is to halve the number of fare dodgers by the end of the year.

Transferring staff to different duties, however, hinges on finalizing the logistics of the merger of mass transport companies into the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) and enabling more flexible movement within the company?s structure.

The Thessaloniki Urban Transport Organization (OAST), meanwhile, estimates that fare dodging accounts for losses of one-sixth of the annual state subsidy it receives and is as high as 15-20 million euros a year.

Greece?s creditors have demanded that as part of the fiscal adjustment program Athens raises the price of public transport tickets by at least 25 percent in the first three months of next year. But the government is wary of putting more strain on cash-strapped citizens, especially given that a hike imposed in 2011 did not have the desired result in terms of boosting revenues.

Meanwhile, an Environment Ministry plan to promote green vehicles in central Athens has been put on the back burner for the time being due to a lack of funds, but regular traffic restrictions are going back into force on September 3. The odd-even traffic restriction — which is in force from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and 8 a.m. through 3 p.m. on Fridays — means that cars with license plates that end in an odd number are allowed into downtown Athens on odd-numbered days and vice versa for cars with plates ending in an even number.

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