NEWS

Fare hikes in public transport and taxis

As if getting used to the euro in our travels about town won’t be hard enough, the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) is about to ask for higher fares. This is to make up for the 22 million drachmas per month it will lose from rounding out fares during the euro changeover. According to reliable sources, OASA is to recommend to the Transport Ministry that fares go up after February, when only the euro will be in use. The Attica taxi drivers’ union (SATA) is also expected to ask for fare hikes. OASA President Ioannis Maniatis said yesterday that during the first two months of the new year, as people get used to using the new currency, OASA will be putting staff on double shifts to assist passengers. Change will be given in the same currency as that paid by the customer, supplies permitting. Ticket-dispensing machines at metro stations and the old urban rail stations (ISAP) will be adjusted gradually. The situation is slightly complicated at metro stations, since all machines are linked to the same software and so all machines at one station will have to be changed at the same time. The first metro station to acquire euro machines will be Sepolia, on Saturday. Taxi drivers are also expected to step up demands for fare increases. Taxi owners are supposed to convert their fare meters to the euro by the end of February, at a cost of almost 100,000 drachmas. At least passengers on public transport will soon be able to put their spare change in drachmas to good use by depositing the coins in one of the 430 «piggy banks» to be installed in 300 buses, 100 trolley buses and 23 metro stations in cooperation with UNICEF. The officials say that increasing medical fees to market levels without any effective registration or monitoring mechanism would make expenditure skyrocket. But, they add, a team of health service inspectors and computerization would allow them to tackle the matter and raise fees to more realistic levels.