End of the line for fare dodgers

The Transport and Communications Ministry is planning to recruit an additional 100 inspectors to nab commuters who do not pay for their journeys, it emerged yesterday as transport officials revealed that ticket dodgers cost the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) some 40 million euros every year. According to OASA officials, up to 12 percent of commuters travel on Athens public transport without a validated ticket. The highest rate of ticket dodging is on trolley buses, buses and trams where 16 percent of commuters travel illegally. Some 12 percent evade inspectors on the Piraeus-Kifissia urban electric railway (ISAP) while just 4 percent take the same risk on the capital’s metro system. Meanwhile OASA’s revenue has dipped slightly since the beginning of the year when a simplified ticket usable on all forms of transport increased to 1 euro from 80 cents, OASA managing director Giorgos Pandremenos said. Sources at OASA told Kathimerini that this dip, of around 2 percent, is despite an increase in demand for monthly and annual travel cards. The organization aims to cut its operational costs by 10 percent by the end of this year, Pandremenos said, noting that there were plans to reduce the number of studies being drafted and to acquire additional European Union funding. OASA’s operations currently cover 38 percent of its costs, at the bottom of the EU’s scale where the corresponding figure ranges from 35 to 60 percent. In a related development yesterday, Transport and Communications Minister Evripidis Stylianidis heralded the distribution of a small multilingual booklet with information about the capital’s transport network and ticket prices. The 16-page credit card-sized booklet, which can be folded up and stored in a wallet, contains information in English, Russian, Albanian, Arabic, Chinese and Greek. The booklet will be available at bus and metro stations and at other central points of the capital.