Falling gas pump prices fuel rise in highway traffic

Falling gas pump prices fuel rise in highway traffic

Reduced prices at gas stations have triggered a slight rise in the number of vehicles using the Attiki Odos beltway – the toll road around greater Athens – for the first time since 2009, according to the latest official figures. A slight rise in traffic was also detected on toll highways around the country in the second half of 2015.

The monthly average circulation on Attiki Odos in 2009 was 307,000 vehicles. But these figures were drastically reduced with the onset of the financial crisis over the next five years.

In 2010 the monthly average dropped to 281,000, while it stood at 250,000 in 2011. The downward trend continued in the following years: 215,000 in 2012, 200,000 in 2013 and 197,000 in 2014.

“The mean circulation in 2015 was 201,000 which was the first rise [2 percent] after many years,” said Vassilis Halkias, managing director at Attikes Diadromes, the company that manages Attiki Odos.

“The upward trend started to become clear from September 2014 until June 2015,” he told Kathimerini, adding that there was a drop in the rest of the summer because of the imposition of capital controls on the Greek economy. “Traffic started to recover from September.”

The recovery has spilled over into 2016, with 186,000 vehicles using the Athens beltway in January – 1,000 more vehicles compared to the same month in 2015 – while 204,000 vehicles were registered in February compared to 194,000 the same time the previous year.

Halkias attributed the increased traffic to falling oil prices rather than an indication of an economic recovery.

“Generally speaking, there is a correlation between GDP and [vehicle] circulation,” he said, adding however that “as we have not had a rise in GDP during this period, we must attribute the rise to the reduced price of gas, combined with other factors such as the rise in commuter transport costs and the continued downgrading of the level of services they offer."

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