E-Ticket Fiasco Forces Greek Transport Paper Ticket Extension

Massive queues for the new electronic tickets, Athens, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo: Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos

ATHENS – After months of delays, an e-ticket scheme put into effect on Greece’s transportation system to prevent fare evasion has turned into a debacle for the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition and led to an extension of the use of paper tickets that have to be validated.

Commuters in the Greek capital will be able to use their old-tickets and October passes until November 15, the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) said, after massive queues for the new electronic tickets caused near-chaos.

There are two types of card: a paper card issued at automatic dispensers that serves as an all-day pass, a weekly pass or a 10-ride pass, as well as a plastic card that contains the commuter’s photograph and personal details, and can be recharged, with a discount if on a monthly or annual basis.

Commuters had been lining up at issuing booths for days to replace their old monthly passes with the new plastic cards before the end of October, leading to bitter criticism of the Transport Ministry for limiting how many places where they could be obtained and voluminous paperwork that caused big delays.

Massive queues for the new electronic tickets, Athens, Nov. 1, 2017. Photo: Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos

The ministry was also blistered for not allowing commuters to purchase a single ticket of 1.40 (.70 reduced) euros that allows them to ride all forms of public transport in Athens for up to 1.5 hours, but OASA said the new electronic paper slips will allow the single-ticket option as of Nov. 6.

The new system also replaces barrier-free paper ticket validation machines with barriers requiring the use of the electronic tickets as public transportation was losing scores of millions of euros a year because so many people just walked through onto platforms without buying a ticket.