NEWS

Public transport rallies for poll day, with buses, trains, trolleys and taxis on full alert

The taxis and buses of Athens have been mobilized to help transport voters to polling stations, and the other means of public transportation will offer increased services. The toughest part will be transporting voters who do not know where they are supposed to vote, and the laid-back types who simply turn up at the polling stations where they have voted in the past. Apart from the task of ferrying voters about, some radio-taxi operators have expressed their concern to Kathimerini that unofficial taxi drivers might try to muscle in on the action by offering rides in exchange for payment. The transport alert will sound at 6.45 a.m. and end at 7 p.m. Most of the responsibility for transporting lost voters lies with the Interior Ministry. The Citizens’ Service Center at Syntagma is running a coordinating center staffed by representatives of the ministry, the Attica taxi drivers’ syndicate (SATA), the blue buses and Athens Municipality. This center is linked to the ministry’s 142 kiosks located in the forecourts of schools where there are large polling stations. Dozens of taxis will be allocated to those schools to carry voters to the correct polling stations. And there will be 138 eight-seater buses to transport any lost voters. «The burden will fall on the radio-taxi companies, who must organize their members properly,» SATA general secretary Panayiotis Mavrikis told Kathimerini. «We won’t have just 400 taxis, as some say. The Interior Ministry has asked us to provide as any cabs as we can,» says Georgios Laledakis, a radio-cab company president. «The main thing is communication by mobile phone with drivers, so that we can meet everyone’s needs,» he adds. Priority will go to elderly voters. Transportation will be free to voters. The ministry has not yet announced how much it will pay SATA for the service. The urban bus company (ETHEL) will also boost services to help voters. ETHEL’s Managing Director Constantinos Kokkoris told Kathimerini that about 1,100 buses will be in circulation tomorrow, compared with the usual number of 800 on a Sunday. ETHEL plans to increase all services. All trolley bus and electric train services will be increased tomorrow as well, says Kokkoris. The Citizens’ Service Center (tel 1464) has maps of bus services so it can advise voters which buses to take to get to their polling stations.