Athens pay-parking by fall

An electronic pay-to-park network, aimed at disciplining Athenian motorists, is to be up and running in some of the capital’s busiest districts by September, municipal officials have decided. However, the network will only be accessible to motorists who own mobile phones, as the system finally chosen by City Hall, following months of assessment of 16 proposals, will require the use of smart cards in combination with cell-phone text messages. In the first instance, a network of 5,000 pay-parking spots will start operating in the city’s historic center – an area delineated by Ermou, Stadiou and Athinas streets – as well as in the areas of Psyrri, Plaka, Geraniou Street and Kolonaki. A second phase will the operation will involve another 4,000 pay-parking spots in Thiseio, the area of the Athens Concert Hall and Alexandras Avenue. Residents of the areas where the networks will operate will pay a 20-euro annual charge for using the system. Visitors will be charged 1 euro per hour for the first two hours of parking, and four euros for a third hour, which is the maximum permitted stay. To use the system, motorists will use a smart card – available from street kiosks – that allows them a fixed amount of parking time. Each time they park, they will send a text message to municipal officials from their mobile phone, indicating the code of the parking spot and the amount of time they expect to stay. Their card will be charged accordingly and the system will be monitored electronically by municipal police. The system will operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, but not on Sundays or public holidays. Athens has not had pay-parking since 1998.