Calling the public transportation system during the summer Olympics a success, the Greek government unveiled plans to maintain some services in an effort to increase the public's use of the system.
More than 3.5 million people used the system during the Olympic Games, up 90% from the same period last year. Some 30% of Athenians use the public transport system to get about daily, reported Greek newspaper, the Kathimerini. The government aims to have 50% of Athenians using the public transportation system, from the current 30%.
Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said that public transportation was a success during the Olympic Games and noted that the government would continue to improve the daily life of Athenians. "We have inherited so much, there is infrastructure and the political will to make Athens a more accessible, more human city, using its integrated transportation network," he said.
The Piraeus-Kifissia electric railway saw its traffic triple during the Olympics, carrying more than 650,000 passengers daily, while traffic on the Metro doubled to 700,000. Athens' bus network saw a 40% increase with 1.8 million passengers daily. The two new additions to Athens' transport system, the Proastiakos suburban railway and the tram, carried 650,000 and 1 million passengers, respectively, over the 17-day period, the paper said.
The ministry's plan to boost the number of people using the system includes keeping all rail line services the Metro, suburban railway and electric trains running until 2 a.m., and coordinating traffic lights to give the tram system priority over other traffic. The Transport Ministry would also maintain the operation of a single management agency for public transportation, a 24-hour customer service line and a number of Olympic bus lines. In addition, certain bus and trolley lines would run 24 hours a day.
With the end of the Athens games, the torch has been passed to Beijing. Readying itself to host the 2008 Olympics, the city has vowed to unveil a cleaner, greener city for the event. As part of the new plan to battle pollution, Beijing authorities have pledged to put 4,000 natural gas buses on the streets by 2008.
Because there are few special fueling stations available in the region, only 20% of the total fleet operated by the Beijing Public Transportation Corp. (BPTC) will be alternative-fueled, reported Channel News Asia (CNA).
Land shortages and public fears of compressed natural gas as being unsafe have made it difficult for the system to build more fuel stations, BPTC Vice General Manager Feng Xingfu told CNA.