As of July, Athenians will be able to travel on the new tram

After overshot budgets, long delays and a frantic race that was just completed in the last few months, Athens’s new tram will be ready to start taking passengers in early July. Running at regular intervals around the clock for a reasonable fare, the tram is expected to serve some 80,000 passengers daily. On Tuesday, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis was the first person to take a ride on the tram, making the journey from Neos Cosmos to Neo Faliron, and from there on to Palaio Faliron. It is worth noting that the 26-kilometer (16-mile) tramway will continue to operate 24 hours a day even after the Olympic Games. The tramline has 27 stops and there are 35 Italian-made tram cars, each of which can carry 197 passengers. The fare for the full trip is to be set at 60 euro cents, with passengers under 18 paying half fare. People with special needs will travel free of charge. Tickets for shorter distances and for passengers transferring from other means of public transport will cost 40 cents. The trams are expected to travel at an average speed of 23 kilometers per hour, and one is scheduled to leave every four minutes in each direction. The trip from Neo Faliron to Syntagma is estimated to take 40 minutes, from Syntagma to Glyfada 50 minutes, and from Neo Faliron to Glyfada just 30 minutes. During the Olympic Games, the tram will start from Neos Cosmos instead of from Syntagma. «Two months ago, we were all wondering whether the tram would be ready for the Games,» said Tram SA President Angelos Laskaris. «Now we can say with certainty that the construction phase is over and, after test runs, the tram will be put to commercial use in the first 10 days of July.» The initial budget for the project was 320 million euros, but the final cost has reached almost 380 million euros. «The general test run was successful,» said the transport minister. «Despite all the delays and problems, we succeeded.»