Electric trolley or thermal buses? The case of Athens


A Matzoros

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus


Athens is one of the oldest and largest cities in Europe, with a very well known historic tradition going back for centuries, but with most of the urban development and expansion mainly taking place in the 20 th century. Athens, nowadays, is a city of 3,5 million people and concentrates, within the 1.450 km 2 of its greater area, about 35% of the total population and 50% of the GNP of Greece. It is the main political, legislative, cultural and scientific centre of the country and, also, serves as a major transport node, due to its international airport and the international port of Pireas. Over the past 50 years of urban development and expansion, investment in public transport did not follow the same trend, resulting, now, in an under- designed and under-funded network that is called to cope with the traffic load of a large and dynamic city, accomplishing, thus, its goal with only a medium degree of success. Recently, however, there has been a major shift in transport planning priorities and public transport has been assigned the key role towards solving the transportation and traffic congestion problems of the city. As a result of this shift, large amounts of public and private funds are being invested in the public transport network, both in infrastructure development (metropolitan railway, tramway, suburban railway) and in bus fleet modernisation and renewal. It is, thus, hoped, that public transport will regain its key role in serving society and also help the city respond better to the increased transport demand conditions of the 2004 Olympics. The urban public transport (PT) system in Athens comprises three modes, thermal bus, electric trolley bus and metro, and is managed by the Athens Public Transport Authority', a publicly owned company under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport. The authority is responsible for the planning, financing, co-ordination and supervision of the public transport system. The operation of the system is entrusted to three affiliated to the authority publicly owned operating companies, responsible one for each of the three modes above. A comparative study of the operational and financial characteristics of thermal and electric buses and their operating companies has been carried out. Its aim was to determine the factors influencing the adoption of a policy line towards the future development of their respective networks in Athens. The findings and proposals of this study are reported in this publication. They provide a background, on which discussions between all parties involved may be based upon.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.