Traffic respite only temporary

Roads in Athens will be at their emptiest over the next few days due to the large number of people who have left the city for their vacations, but transport engineers are warning that from September onward, congestion will only get worse unless changes are made. Speaking to Kathimerini, transport expert Panos Papadakos said that the number of vehicles circulating in Athens goes up by between 8 and 10 percent each year, whereas the increase in the number of people using public transport is only between 3 and 4 percent on average. «We have to stop building new roads because as long as there are more of them, the use of cars will increase,» he said. Papadakos believes that the only solution is to introduce traffic management schemes such as more bus lanes or pay parking, which could discourage some Athenians from using their cars. He underlined that the effective policing of these measures would also be essential if they are to have an impact on the city’s traffic problem. The Transport Ministry is thought to be examining the possibility of extending the number of bus lanes in Athens. According to statistics released by the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) the rise in the number of daily journeys conducted by car has outstripped those made by public transport. Of some 7 million journeys made every day, about 2.6 million involve public transport. OASA said that an average of 1.3 people travel in each car that circulates on Athens’s streets, which is only a little higher than the average number of people on motorcycles. Over the last 10 years, the number of cars in Athens has risen from 245 per thousand inhabitants to 371 per thousand.