NEWS

Traffic congestion, flood problems set to ease in this thriving port

Traffic congestion has been a major problem for both local inhabitants and visitors to Patras. Despite the operation of the new bypass and a controlled parking system, the city continues to suffer. This is partly due to the mentality of the drivers: Every week traffic police issue 1,700 fines. The majority of Patras residents rarely use public transport, arguing that the fleet of buses is old, the tickets are expensive and the service does not cater for their daily requirements. Traffic congestion is also aggravated by the 55-year-old system of traffic lights. It is hoped that a smaller bypass soon to be completed will alleviate some of the problems, and a study is in progress on introducing a tram service. Other roadworks will help solve the problem of the streams in the Diakoniari river gorge, which have long been a nightmare for residents. Serious flooding and damage occurred in 2001 and a father and his son lost their life in the torrent. Work on covering the stream is under way and will soon be completed. A road linking the port with the major bypass is also being built over the stream. Parts of the city have acquired a certain autonomy and residents do not have to travel to the city center for their shopping. The availability of plots have made it possible to build shops in these districts, which are now buzzing with life. Many people have also moved to these areas for a better quality of life. After the slump Patras experienced a slump some 20 years ago after many factories were closed down. Unemployment is still high, but considerable efforts have been made to revive the economy. The port has always played a key role in the city’s economy and will continue to do so. It provides a link to Western European countries as well as playing a major role in the daily life of the city’s inhabitants, either for business or as a recreation area. In 2007, the port handled 1.2 million passengers and 500,000 vehicles. Works are in progress for the construction of a new port that will better respond to modern requirements and serve as a major hub for transport routes. The new port will provide high-quality services to users while also remaining friendly to the local inhabitants and community. Nevertheless stringent security measures might affect access to the port by residents. Small- and medium-sized enterprises, commerce, services provision and transportation are other vibrant sectors of the local economy. In Patras alone, 5,416 commercial enterprises, 3,000 small manufacturing companies and over 5,500 professional firms are in operation. Whether as spectators or performers, the people of Patras love the theater. There are numerous theaters all around town as well as amateur drama groups. Work on the new archaeological museum is also in progress and a new open-air theater is to be built in the area of Riganokambos.