Cars still rule in Athens

Government efforts aimed at getting Athenians to use buses and trains appear to be falling short of target, as only one in three locals hop onto public transport on a daily basis, according to the results of a survey released yesterday. The study, commissioned by the Transport Ministry, showed that eight in 10 respondents are satisfied with public transportation. However, only 31 percent of those polled use either a bus, train, trolley or tram everyday. «Residents must rid themselves of the belief that cars are the main source of transport in the city and stop using them for every trip they make,» said Transport Minister Michalis Liapis. The government is aiming to get one in two Athenians using public transport every day by 2008 in a plan that will help provide traffic relief to the heavily congested city. Measures such as implementing stricter traffic supervision, cracking down on illegal parking and helping to improve travel times on buses have been slow in motivating Athenians to leave their cars at home. The study showed that 37 percent use public transport rarely or not at all and that two in 10 use it either once or twice a week. Buses were given the highest points as the preferred mode of transport of 55 percent of those questioned, while the metro got the thumbs-up from 47.8 percent. Men aged between 15-24 and living in Athens’s western suburbs ranked as the most common type of commuter. Officials said that the government, which controls and runs all public transport in Athens, will not increase fares in 2007. The survey was conducted over the last few weeks by research company Marc on men and women over the age of 15 in 813 households. Meanwhile, sources said yesterday that a Cabinet meeting is expected to assess in the coming days the introduction of stricter traffic fines. Changes include an increased fine on drivers who run a red light to 700 euros from 167 euros currently. Transport experts have warned that the tougher measures will only produce positive results if policing is also improved.

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