E-passes make Attiki Odos easier, cheaper for tollgate-weary users; other highways to get them too

There is only one option for drivers who want to circumvent Athens fast – Attiki Odos. Toll fees (2 euros) may be exorbitant, but road services and the absence of alternatives make use of the highway practically obligatory. The completion of the Stravros intersection in spring, which will connect Attiki Odos to the Western Hymettus Peripheral Highway, is expected to make the ring road both more attractive – and hugely more expensive, since toll fees will gradually rise to 3 euros. Nevertheless, for more or less regular users of Attiki Odos, electronic devices for use at tollgates (the «e-pass») provide both a speedier passage through and lower costs. The highway’s managing company offers two discount e-pass packages for both regular and daily users of the road. Conditions for acquiring e-passes, available at the service centers of Attiki Odos, are an account containing at least 30 euros, which will be drawn on to pay for the journeys. The «Express Pass» scheme is aimed at those who use the highway less often. Users pay a guarantee of 20 euros to acquire the device, which is returned when the driver decides to withdraw from the scheme. For each trip, irrespective of when taken, drivers then receive a discount of 30 cents. Pass holders pass through the tollgates via special lanes, without going through the process of paying for a ticket, while drivers receive a warning when the balance in their account is sufficient for fewer than three trips. The other scheme, «Friendly Pass,» is aimed at drivers who use Attiki Odos virtually on a daily basis. It offers a rising scale of discounts, 30 cents for the first 30 trips, 60 cents for the next 20 and a 90-cent discount for each trip after 50 trips made within the same calendar month. A fixed monthly fee of 3 euros will be charged on the detailed bill users receive every month. Due to the increasing reductions, the Friendly Pass is likely to appeal to drivers who make more than 42 trips a month. The National Road Fund (TEO) has also got in on the act, through the introduction of electronic toll posts on the Athens-Patras National Road. The TEO pass, as it is called, is already being piloted at the Elefsina toll post – the pilot scheme will soon be extended to include the Isthmus toll post. When fully operational, the pass is expected to serve 1,200 vehicles per hour.

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