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Commuters take to night train March 8, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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A pilot scheme to keep trains on the metro system and the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) running until late has attracted stronger-than-expected interest from nighttime commuters, raising hopes the measure may be extended on a permanent basis.

The scheme involves trains running until 2 o’clock on Saturday and Sunday mornings, rather than finishing at midnight, in a bid to offer Athenians an alternative to getting to and from their nighttime entertainment.

Initial figures show that an additional 11,500 passengers have been using the metro line thanks to the longer hours, well above initial forecasts of an extra 3,000 to 4,000 passengers. ISAP passengers have also taken warmly to the measure, with 7,000 more passengers using the electric railway.

The Transport Ministry and the City of Athens are in favor of the move as they see it as an obvious way to increase passenger numbers on lines 2 and 3 of the metro, which first opened to commuters seven years ago. AMEL, the firm that operates the Athens metro, estimates that the longer timetable will cost the company an additional 300,000 euros a month. Two-thirds of this cost will be for staff overtime.

Athenians have been slow in switching to public transport, as many still opt for their own car despite the city’s massive traffic problems.

Figures released recently show there were 35 million more passenger journeys on the city’s entire public transport network last year, compared to 2006, but this figure is considered to be a disappointingly low increase by many experts. Last year also saw increased use of the tram network.

Some 16 million passengers used the two tram lines last year, compared to just 3.2 million in 2004, when the service was inaugurated. The Athens-Piraeus Electric Railway (ISAP) saw perhaps the most impressive rise, as 8.2 million more journeys were made compared to 2006.

However, the bedrock of the public transport system, the ETHEL buses, recorded hardly any rise in commuter figures. Just over 360 million journeys were made by bus in Athens last year, which represents 51 percent of the city’s public transport network usage. 

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