Buses and metro win fans

Four in 10 people use Athens’s public transport on a daily basis, according to a survey released yesterday, as the city’s expanding train and bus network seem to be gaining more fans. Transport Minister Michalis Liapis announced yesterday the results of a survey commissioned by the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) which showed that 43 percent of Athenians use the metro, buses, trams, trains or trolley buses every day. The government has said it is aiming to get one in two Athens residents using public transport for their daily commute by 2008. The target looks achievable, given that the metro will be expanded with the help of a new line, and more changes are also expected on bus routes. The choice of public transport is also a gender issue, according to the survey. Some 84 percent of female commuters prefer the bus, while the majority of men questioned, 60 percent, opt for the metro. Liapis added that talks are being held at the ministry to find ways of convincing Athenians to leave their cars at home when visiting the city center. He stressed, however, that no sudden changes will be sprung on drivers. Ministry sources have said that among the government’s options is the complete banning of cars in the city center or implementing a type of toll system. Liapis said that from next year 25 extra ticket inspectors will be employed to catch fare dodgers and fines will rise to 100 times the price of the fare from 40 times currently.