OPINION

What about the public’s property?

In the comic parable «The Arsonists» by Max Frisch one of the central characters utters the line: «You are sacred and holy private property.» Of course, in those days there was no talk of car scrappage schemes and the like. However, the idea that private property is an inviolable principle is evident in the recent measures announced by the government for the withdrawal of old cars, changes in road tax and the creation of a «green» zone in the center of Athens. The measures are all about protecting it, preserving it and (why not?) increasing its volume. But, what about public transport? What about people who don’t use cars? What about the buses elbowing their way through traffic in the designated bus lanes, running late and spewing pollution along the way? What about improving and organizing a cleaner and more efficient public transportation network? Public transport is not included in the government’s plan to ease traffic and smog in Athens because, obviously, it is not any one individual’s property. Public transport belongs in the faceless sphere of the public domain. As we all know, the only way to get anyone motivated over public transport is to threaten its privatization. The more it crumbles and degenerates, the more its marginalization is tolerated, and maybe even promoted, by the powers that be, the longer it can stay under the radar. Basically, public transport has ended up being nobody’s concern. A better public transport network, however, is the most effective, cost-efficient and environmentally friendly solution to traffic jams and smog, and its improvement should top the agenda of any discussion on traffic and transportation. Yet, here in Greece, the discussion is focused on ways to raise cash for an ailing economy. Policies to improve society are off the agenda. No thought is given to policies that do not concern individual desires, policies that transcend the individual and would lead to a better quality of life for everyone.