NEWS

Nothing very European about Liosion and Kifissou intercity bus stations

The two main intercity bus (KTEL) stations on Kifissou and Liosion avenues will be welcoming travelers to the Olympic Games without the provision of enough waiting room space or air conditioning but the biggest problem is access to the city’s road network. These stations are two of the country’s main entry points, where the total daily passenger traffic of 20,000 people is expected to double during the Games. Yet they have been all but ignored by the authorities, and there is no management plan for areas that will be receiving a large number of visitors during the Olympics. At the eleventh hour, the Transport Ministry is giving the stations a superficial cleanup, budgeted at 80,000 euros, but this will clearly fail to resolve longstanding problems. No attempt is being made to solve the real problem, which is the lack of urban bus stops to enable long-distance travelers to get into the city itself. In 1986, the idea of moving the KTEL terminus was first raised, when the Athens Organization submitted a plan for the city that included the construction of a modern intercity bus station. Since then, construction of the station has often been announced but never begun. Similar indifference has been displayed by the KTEL bus drivers themselves. Although both stations serve over 6 million passengers a year, the drivers do not appear to care about the poor conditions. In 1990, discussion began about a site for the new station, resulting in three alternatives – Elaionas, Metamorphosis and Sepolia. In 1998, then Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis announced that the station would be built at Elaionas. In 2000, the current transport minister, Christos Verelis, made yet another announcement that work was to begin, but nothing has been done since. No one wants to take responsibility for finding the funds. «The biggest problem the authorities face today is the isolation of the stations (from the urban bus network),» transport expert Professor Yiannis Golias told Kathimerini. «Only two buses leave the Kifissou bus station at present, one for the airport, the other for central Athens. Not a single bus leaves the Liosion station.» Most travelers resort to taxis. For the duration of the Olympics, provisions have been made for only two extra urban bus lines at Kifissou, one leaving for the main Olympic Stadium and the other for Faliron and the Peace and Friendship Stadium. Not a single line is to be provided for the Liosion station. It seems no one has thought about how people are supposed to get to and from the stations, particularly Kifissou, since Kifissou Avenue will be part of the Olympic traffic ring, meaning that the double and triple parking that goes on today, as people are dropped off and picked up, will not be possible. About 3,000 cars per hour are expected to stop at the Kifissou station alone.