Athens comes together

Athens’s integrated transport system, which will be crucial in ensuring a smooth Olympic Games, will be in place by Sunday, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said yesterday. «We are ready for everything… the success of the Games will depend, in part, on the successful operation and coordination of mass transport,» Liapis said. Beginning on Sunday, the Piraeus-Kifissia electric railway, the tram and several bus and trolley lines will operate around the clock. The two metro lines will only shut down from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. and the suburban railway will operate from 5 a.m. to 3 a.m. Several bus lines will extend their hours and there will be many express lines to Olympic venues. Complementing the extended mass transport system, a number of lanes in major avenues, the so-called «Olympic lanes» will be closed to private cars and taxes. Only the express buses and official cars will be allowed to use them between 6.30 a.m. and midnight. Doukissis Plakentias subway station, northeast of Athens’s center, was opened yesterday. Subway trains emerging from the station will link to the suburban railway and run all the way to the Athens International Airport. Service to the airport, both using the suburban railway and the metro, will be inaugurated Friday and will be free during the first 48 hours of operation. Liapis promised that some glitches, such as delays in the tram network and power outages on the Piraeus-Kifissia railway, will be ironed out. The Olympic lanes and the mass transport extended hours will operate throughout August in the Athens area. In the Piraeus area, Olympic lanes will operate from August 9. Liapis called on the public to make use of the mass transit system, rather than their cars. «All citizens must cooperate (until the end of the Games). They should show understanding and get informed about the new means of transport that will be at their disposal not only for the short, but crucial, period of the Games but afterward,» Liapis said, indicating that certain extended-operation hours may remain after the Games. A total of one million transport system maps, half in Greek and half in English, will be printed and distributed for free. A transport help line (185) will provide information in Greek, English, French, German and Spanish.

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