More passengers put tram back on track

One year to the day since the first new wave of trams rolled onto Athenian streets, the operating firm said yesterday the struggling mode of transport was starting to turn the corner as an increasing number of commuters were choosing to use it. The network, built at a cost of some 380 million euros and completed just in time for the Athens Olympics, has not lived up to expectations that forecast it would carry 80,000 passengers daily. However, the company running it said yesterday that daily commuters had risen to over 48,000 last month, compared to under 35,000 several months earlier. The rise has largely been due to an increased number of beachgoers – a group the operating firm has targeted recently with a ticket promotion – using trams to head for their daily swim. Operating around the clock on the weekend has also helped boost passenger numbers as young clubbers use it to travel to and from beachfront nightclubs, the operators said. Despite the surge in ticket sales, the company expects to lose 11 million euros this year, on the back of 6-million-euro losses last year, and is banking on line extensions to Voula by next year and Piraeus by 2008 to help make the operation profitable.

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