Sun shines on massive Easter exodus

The largest exodus of the last few years is underway, with Athenians fanning out across the country to celebrate the Orthodox Easter and the spring weather. Traffic police are out in force to deal with the hundreds of thousands of cars on the roads. Extra ships, planes, trains and buses have been scheduled to deal with the huge demand. Driving home the message «Let’s all leave but let’s all come back,» traffic police are patrolling highways and provincial roads, working to ease congested points and to keep unruly drivers in line in what they say is the biggest exodus in a decade. A police helicopter will be coordinating ground forces along the Athens-Corinth and Athens-Thessaloniki highways. Police said yesterday that traffic was up by more than 40 percent over the previous year and was expected to reach its peak this afternoon. An extra lane has been given over to outbound traffic and trucks of over 1.5 tons have been banned from many segments of highway during the exodus. Traffic in the port of Piraeus was up 40 percent yesterday with regard to vehicles and 50 percent with regard to passengers. Since the previous Saturday, 120,000 passengers had left via the port of Piraeus and another 18,000 from Rafina, an increase of 55 percent from last year. Tickets for islands near Athens were non-existent days ago, while ships for other destinations are 90-percent full. Only people who already have tickets will be allowed into harbor areas and travelers are advised to arrive at least an hour before the ship’s scheduled departure time, as the ports are jammed with traffic. Airlines are operating at capacity and Olympic Airways has scheduled larger-than-usual planes on domestic routes. The Hellenic Railways Organization, operating at 90-percent capacity, has added more carriages and more trains. The good weather is expected to get even better. Sunny weather is forecast across the country, with only a brief interval of scattered showers likely on Sunday in the northern Ionian, Epirus and western Macedonia. From Monday, the weather will be very sunny, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius.