OPINION

Transport woes

The usual chaos prevailed in the streets and the center of Athens as a result of Tuesday’s 24-hour strike to protest the social security reform proposals (the final instalment in a series of strikes and one which most probably took place for the sake of appearances…), in the heat and thick smog. The city was paralyzed by heavy traffic despite the fact that only half the cars were allowed to circulate under traffic zone restrictions, the large majority of public services and banks were shut, and private companies were not in full operation because of the strike of the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE). But still, people were out there, in the streets; some participating in the protest rallies, others window shopping or enjoying their iced coffees in open squares. We tend always to criticize Greece’s public transport, and only when it goes on strike do we realize its major contribution to the decongestion of this anarchically structured city. Transport experts insist that the only way to make Athens a more human city in terms of traffic and environmental pollution is to ban vehicles from the city center. However, before an individual is persuaded to leave his vehicle at home, he must first be persuaded, in practice, that the system of public transport is efficient and comfortable, making it foolish to waste several hours a day in the driver’s seat, to burn dozens of liters of fuel, and to search for a parking space – even in some private parking lot…