Public transport in the ‘city of joy’

In a bid to sweet-talk Athenians into leaving aside their cars during the month of August, Olympics organizers and government officials yesterday presented a plan for steeply upgraded public transport services during the Games, designed to cope with 600,000 passengers on a daily basis. «Athens in August will bear no resemblance to the city we see every day,» Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki told a press conference. «Systematic and methodic work will be required, as well as patience.» The beefed-up public transport system will be in effect between July 20 – when a series of crippling restrictions for motorists will also be implemented – and August 31. «We want everybody to be able to move around town safely and quickly,» Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said. «We want our visitors to have easy access to the Olympic venues. Athens will function smoothly… we want it to be a city of joy. We want Athenians to help us.» The city’s public blue buses will serve a total of 300 routes on a daily basis – 21 of which have been specially laid on to serve Olympic venues – carrying some 50,000 people an hour. There will be 21 trolley-bus routes, five of which will run all day, while the Kifissia-to-Piraeus electric railway will also work on a 24-hour basis and at 2.5-minute intervals, carrying 24-28,000 people an hour. The new tramline will carry 4,000 passengers an hour, while the metro will serve an estimated 32-41,000 people an hour. Furthermore, a new suburban railway running from the Larissis railway station to the airport at Spata is expected to cater to some 2,700 people an hour. Effectively all the city’s main roads will be given over to Olympics-related traffic and public transport, leaving only one lane for other motorists.

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