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Greek Transport Ministry Cancels Leave of Public Transport Staff to Increase Services

Αssociated Press

A commuter wearing a face mask now obligatory in public transport, to prevent the spread of new coronavirus, sits inside a train at Syntagma Metro station during rush hour in central Athens, Monday, May 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS -- The infrastructure and transport ministry on Friday cancelled the summer holiday leave of public transport staff in order to increase the frequency of services and avoid the phenomena of overcrowding that have recently been observed.

The cancellation concerns staff on buses and trolleys, trains, trams and the metro system to ensure they can run more frequently.

According to an updated schedule released by OASA on Friday, metro trains on lines 2 and 3 of the Athens metro will now run every six minutes, while trains on line one will come every seven minutes.

The new schedule also envisages more buses and trolleys on the road during peak hours, with additional measures if necessary.

"The picture seen in recent days on public transport is a cause for concern for us all and the citizens' complaints are justified," Infrastructure and Transport Minister Achilleas Karamanlis said in an announcement. He added that he was working closely with the management of public transport bodies and had asked them to do everything possible to ensure frequent services.

The process began on Thursday night and the leave given at OASA, STASY and OSY will be limited to 20 pct of staff during August.

The public transport bodies will start the specially adapted new schedule from Saturday to increase the frequency of trains, buses and trolleys and facilitate the movement of passengers as much as possible.

According to the ministry, summer leave for staff is already half that given in 2019 and the frequency of services, barring isolated incidents, has been steadily better than the previous year. It also stressed the need to adhere to protective measures and wear a face mask on public transport at all times, advised the public to use cards to buy tickets, and noted that the use of lifts was forbidden except for people with serious mobility issues. Also, a ban on entering buses and trolleys using the front door has been extended.