NEWS

Olympic transport arrangements

Athens transport officials said yesterday that the electric urban railway, as well as nine key bus and trolley lines will be operating day and night during the August Olympics, while metro timetables will be extended for two hours, until 2 a.m. The new timetables were made public by the Athens Public Transport Organization (OASA) Olympics coordinator, Yiannis Patrikalakis, at a joint press conference with the Athens 2004 organizing committee’s general manager for transport, Panayiotis Protopsaltis. However, Patrikalakis did not say when the measures would start – the Olympics will take place between August 13 and 29 – and which five bus lines and four trolley lines would function on a 24-hour basis. Protopsaltis said 23 special express bus routes would run during the Games, linking key parts of the capital with Olympic venues – including far-off destinations such as the Schinias rowing center, the Markopoulo riding venue and the mountain-bike track on Mount Parnitha. Some 550 of OASA’s 1,850 buses will serve the express routes, which will make very few or no stops between destinations and will use special priority lanes. It is unclear what effect this will have on the capital’s regular bus service. «Schedules on the rest of the network will be strengthened, in the sense that existing bus routes that pass close to Olympic venues will be strengthened during the Games,» Patrikalakis offered. Also yesterday, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis chaired a meeting of public transport officials on Olympic security. Meanwhile, Athenians living or working near Olympic venues have been given until May 15 to apply for special documents that will allow them to drive within restricted areas during the Games.