Pay parking to be extended

A pay parking scheme introduced in downtown Athens three years ago will be extended by another 5,000 spaces in other parts of the city center as of January, the municipality has revealed. City of Athens officials told Kathimerini that the new spaces, 2,200 of which would be for nonresidents, would be introduced in the neighborhoods of Thiseio, Ano Petralona, Goudi, off Alexandras Avenue and around the Athens Concert Hall. Free parking spaces for motorcycles will also be created, the municipality said. Car drivers, however, will continue to have to pay to park their vehicles in the spots. Residents will be allowed to buy a yearly permit for 10 euros. Visitors will be able to buy pay-and-display tickets from kiosks that will allow them to park their cars at a cost of 0.50 cents per half hour. The scheme first began in November 2006 with the introduction of some 5,500 spaces, only 2,000 of which were set aside for visitors. Since then, municipal police officers who are responsible for checking that drivers display the appropriate permit have been equipped with personal digital assistants (PDA) that can scan the ticket and inform them if they need to issue a ticket. Illegal parking remains a big problem in Athens but Deputy Mayor Andreas Papadakis told Kathimerini that an effective new measure allows authorities to search out the offender’s tax number (AFM) and then prevent them from engaging in any kind of economic activity until the parking ticket has been paid. «There are many offenses and citizens often believe that we are only interested in imposing fines,» said Papadakis. «But we have to be strict, especially if cars are double parked or left in spaces for disabled drivers or on sidewalks or pedestrian walkways.»

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