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Postby cannedmoose » Sat May 28, 2005 11:08 am

Public transport plans in limbo
By Elias Hazou

ANY PLANS for creating public transportation to ease congestion in the capital have been put on hold indefinitely, after meeting with strong reaction from municipalities.
A Cabinet meeting held this week at the Presidential Palace saw the mayor of Strovolos municipality Savvas Iliofotou raising serious objections to thoughts of building a tram system in the area. The vigorous intervention of Iliofotou, the local governor of the capital’s largest municipality, was reportedly successful in blocking any action, with sources saying that the idea would be shelved for several years at least.

The location named for the tram was next to the Pedieos River, but Iliofotou protested this was impossible because of ongoing restructuring work at the riverbed.

With public transportation out of the picture, authorities are left with the alternatives of building more roads, increasing lanes, improving secondary roads, overpasses at major junctions, and raising the number of bus routes.

A study commissioned by the government and carried out by Austrian experts recommended a number of radical measures: rearranging the grid in some areas with more one-way streets, and even limiting car access to the old city to those people who work or live there.

Other proposed measures included relieving the pressure off the Limassol-Nicosia highway near the entrance to the capital, a nightmare point for drivers heading in to their jobs in the morning. The study also suggested that huge parking lots be created at key points just outside the city centre, from where people would then commute using buses. But all these plans are for the time being on paper.

Meanwhile technocrats examining the prospect of a subway system have decided that the cost is prohibitive and also that the size of the capital’s population is too small to justify such an undertaking.

And with a metro or tram out of the question for the foreseeable future, critics argue that building more roads will not help alleviate congestion in any significant way, because it would just mean more vehicles on the streets. Cypriots are voracious purchasers of cars, with the average family owning at least a couple.

So far, the only tangible measure for public transportation has been a pilot programme involving school coaches. The scheme, applied to two schools in Nicosia, has been deemed successful and the Ministry of Communications and Works aims to expand it to eight schools the next academic year.

Also in the works are plans to bolster the fleet of urban coaches across the island as well as encourage the use of other vehicles such as modified station wagons or minibuses.
Last September, the government approved the financing of a £3 million project to improve Strovolos Avenue in Nicosia. Road works would take 17 months to complete, and would cover four lanes over a total stretch of 1.85 kilometres in the next 17 months, between Demos Hypermarket and the Spyros Kyprianou Avenue overpass.



Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2005
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Postby devil » Sat May 28, 2005 12:56 pm

This notion of public transport is an essential part of our future. I wrote a little about this in http://www.cypenv.org/Files/cars.htm under the heading "Reduction of consumption".

It is absolutely ridiculous building more roads. It has been shown in many EU countries that a good, co-ordinated public transport system is the only way to avoid the pests. The only reason why Cyprus has too many cars is because no government has ever taken the bit into the mouth and defined how best this should be done. The result: nothing has been done, therefore the private car has, perforce, become king. Secondary result: bad pollution, traffic accidents, wasted time and extra work for the hospitals. Building more roads is only going to aggravate the problem.

The first thing to do is to set up P&R systems outside all four of the cities, with five-minute (rush hour) interval express air-conditioned bus services to all quarters of the city 24/24. The buses would have reserved routes unavailable to private cars. To take Nicosia as an example, the hubs could be near Orphanides, near the end of the Troodos motorway and Ayios Dometios. This should be free of charge. To pay for this, have an electronic toll system whereby any private car, including taxis, or commercial vehicles going towards the centre of the city would be charged £1 per entry for use in the outskirts (e.g. Strovolos, Engomi), £3 per entry after, say, the Woolworths crossroads, and £5 per entry into the old city. Buses, emergency service vehicles and the cars of registered handicapped persons would be exempt. Commercial vehicles doing deliveries within the three zones could be exempted between 1800 h and 0700. Similarly exempted vans could pick up bulky items to order to deliver them to the P&R areas. These charges would be doubled between 0630 and 1030 except Sundays and bank holidays.

How could this work? Entry into a zone would mean passing under a gantry with either a number-plate reader or a personal transponder reader which would communicate with a central database. Any vehicle which was not registered or without a transponder would be photographed and the police advised. The appropriate sum would be added to the holder's account and he would receive a monthly bill to be paid, like the electricity or telephone bill, within 4 weeks.

The next stage would be intercity coaches or, better, as I suggested, high speed rail links between the P&R areas, running every 15 minutes at rush hours and 30 minutes at other times. Every other one of these would have 1 or 2 intermediate stops between the cities, non-stop for the rest. Small buses would meet the coaches at the intermediate stops to serve the villages.

This would require forethought and money, but would work out a lot cheaper than having to rebuild the inner cities for more and more traffic, It would make the cities far more agreeable, without any major pollution.

It must not be forgotten that, as the price of fuel rises, the private car will become a thing of the past. See http://www.cypenv.org/Files/peakoil.htm to explain why. This is not doomsday fiction but commonly acknowledged fact. No one has predicted the time scale with accuracy, but we are not far off the onset.
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Postby cannedmoose » Sat May 28, 2005 1:31 pm

Hi Devil, really interesting and well-written article there my friend. Some time ago I wrote a letter to the Cyprus Mail expressing pretty much the same sentiment. More roads will not work, it will just generate even more traffic. The reason for congestion isn't lack of roads, it's the patent lack of any effective mass transit system.

The P&R solution that you forwarded is one component that would markedly reduce the city-centre traffic, so long as money was heavily invested in the system, and the quality and punctuality of the system was monitored and guaranteed. I've also wondered why Cyprus fails to invest in even a basic rail network between the major cities. Yes, the initial capital investment would be large, but the benefits in terms of getting cars off the road would be huge, meaning the motorways would require less maintenance, and pollution would also be reduced. Most importantly, it would remove the need for trucks to ferry everything from the port at Lemessos to the rest of the island. Freight could be loaded off the ship straight into a freight train depot at the port and dispatched across the island, whereupon trucks would take supplies to the localities where they are required.

Having been all over southern Europe, which even 15 years ago had a terrible infrastructure, the investment that has come from Europe to develop the road and rail networks is huge. Would it not be possible for Cyprus to apply for some European funding for such a venture?

Unless Cyprus does something quickly about the transport chaos, I can foresee the time when Lefkosia and other cities grind to a complete standstill.
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Postby michalis5354 » Sat May 28, 2005 2:03 pm

A good transport system will save millions of funds flowing out from the country every year to buy new or second hand cars for private use! It will therefore improve the budget deficit!

The initial capital investment will be large but this will be financed in the long term by the people who will use the service. Instead of buying a car costing thousands of pounds people will be encouraged to use the public transport insrtead and paying very little in return. This is very simple and I can not understand why nothing is being done about it when there are so many benefots not only for the consumer but for the public in general!

There are many examples ie the underground system in london.
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Postby cannedmoose » Sat May 28, 2005 2:57 pm

Too many vested interests probably... I can just the outcry from AKEL should a system of freight transport by railway be proposed... imagine all the truck drivers who'd lose their jobs... still, Cyprus will come to learn that labour inflexibility will destine them to stagnation.
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Postby sk » Sat May 28, 2005 4:29 pm

the best solution is an underground tram (under main avenues) like the one they have here in budapest(although they call it 1st metro its actually a kind of tram).it will not be very expensive to bbuilt bc they will not have to dig deep,it will follow the routes of main avenues so people will use it!
an example would be ,1)first line starting from kolokasides roundabout and ending in pallouriotissa/kaimakli,2)second line starting from eleftheria square ,pass from old gsp stadium(so it will include new parliament ,library and theatre),continue to the presidential palace and then to strovolos avenue,3)one starting from makariou avenue and continue till new gsp stadium,4)a peripheral line ,starting from new general hospital and ending at the nicosia-troodos motorway
additional lines can be included later like one connecting agioa dometios with the city center ,and another one connecting aglantzia with the city center so that it includes the university when its finished.
i disagree with any solution which involves the introduction of buses as this will make the situation worse.
building a metro is out of the question as it is too expensive (but its the best solution actually)
so ,i believe an underground tram is the best solution
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Postby cannedmoose » Sat May 28, 2005 5:20 pm

By far the cheapest and most effective option would be buses sk. They don't have to be the crappy, clapped-out ones you see in Cyprus, they could be modern, air-conditioned, comfortable coaches like you see elsewhere in Europe. Stops could be placed all over the cities, which would mean people could get dropped closer to where they want to be than they can currently park their car. It's got to the point in Lefkosia particularly that cars aren't a transport solution, they are the problem themselves, particularly when everyone wants to drive a massive 4wd that fill up two parking spaces. Thus a park and ride system with huge car parks on the outskirts of town, linked to a direct junction off the motorways would work far better. It would also pay for itself in the form of levied passenger fares, which should be regulated and kept affordable.
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Postby sk » Sat May 28, 2005 9:35 pm

well,whatever they decide i hope they will apply it fast bc the problem is huge!when i tell to my foreign friends that we do have a traffic problem in cyprus(nicosia) and that nicosia has only 206,000 pop. they think i am crazy and that 2 much studying started to show its side effects!lol! :shock: :D
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Postby coredump » Sun May 29, 2005 12:22 am

Look here:
http://www.ivi.fhg.de/frames/english/pr ... otram.html

Anyway do not forget that the governors can block any development of public transport just because some of their relatives or koumbaros are taxi drivers ;)
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Postby cannedmoose » Sun May 29, 2005 12:28 am

coredump wrote:Look here:
http://www.ivi.fhg.de/frames/english/pr ... otram.html

Anyway do not forget that the governors can block any development of public transport just because some of their relatives or koumbaros are taxi drivers ;)


In other words, there is no hope... you can just imagine the taxi drivers, truck drivers and all their mates from the unions up in arms about it... once again Unions stand in the way of progress...
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