SOCIETY

Plan in the works to ease city traffic

plan-in-the-works-to-ease-city-traffic

Apart from the return on October 25 of restrictions on the number of cars allowed into the center of Athens under the odd-even number plates system (depending on the last digit), the Infrastructure and Transport Ministry is considering a string of new measures to ease increasingly bad traffic congestion in the Greek capital. One of these may be to extend the so-called “daktylios” – or the “ring” inside which cars are allowed – while also discouraging the use of high-emission vehicles.

Titled “A Breath for Athens,” the plan will also address how businesses are supplied, possibly with the introduction of a strict timetable for when trucks are allowed into the downtown area.

Public transportation is also key to the plan, with initial changes concerning occupancy rates for buses and trains after they were slashed in response to the health crisis. With the first of 770 new buses Greece is planning to purchase not expected until 2023 at the earliest, the ministry is also thinking of extending its partnership with privately owned KTEL touring buses to cover the shortfall on high-demand routes. Commuters may also be offered incentives such as cheaper travel passes or free tickets to travel into and out of the city off peak hours. Commuters who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will likely enjoy additional perks.

Encouraging carpooling by creating high occupancy vehicle lanes is also under consideration. It will be a tough measure to implement in Athens’ relatively narrow streets, but may piggyback on bus lanes to address the challenge.

The cornerstone of the ministry’s plan, however, is the creation of a transport observatory under its jurisdiction that will work with agencies such as the Association of Greek Transportation Experts, as well as with local, regional and other authorities responsible for traffic management. The observatory will also compile and analyze data, and study and design changes where they are deemed necessary.