ATHENS – City dwellers were abandoning urban areas in droves on Orthodox Holy Thursday, in order to celebrate the Easter break in the countryside and on the islands, with the traffic police reporting a peak in the exodus from the Attica ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio.
According to ferry operators, all ships sailing on the morning of Holy Thursday and Good Friday are at 100 pct capacity, with 19 ships scheduled to sail from Piraeus, 17 from Rafina and 10 from Lavrio on Thursday.
The coast guard has taken all the necessary measures to facilitate ferry passengers, advising all those that intend to sail to be at the port an hour earlier due to heavy traffic on surrounding roads.
On Wednesday, 14 ships sailed from Piraeus carrying 14,760 passengers, 2,649 cars, 575 trucks and 394 motorcycles to the Aegean islands. There were 26 ferries sailing to the Saronic Gulf on the same day, carrying 5,459 passengers, 949 cars, 40 trucks and 148 motorcycles.
Another 13 ferries sailed from Rafina, with roughly 5,000 passengers, and seven set sail from Lavrio with 1,743 passengers on board.
The traffic police have also taken measures to ensure a smooth and safe journey for motorists leaving the capital, implementing a plan prepared by the General Police Directorate of Attica.
The head of the Attica Traffic Police Spiros Laskos, speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), said that there will be an increased police presence and other measures on the national road network, at the ports of Piraeus and Rafina and around the intercity bus stations to assist travellers and other motorists, with constant police patrols and checks to help enforce road safety.
He said emphasis was being placed on dangerous traffic code violations, such as drinking and driving, speeding, use of mobile phones at the wheel, failure to wear helmets and seatbelts and driving in motorway emergency lanes (hard shoulder).
Planes, trains and intercity buses report Easter passenger numbers comparable to 2019
Using trains, planes, and automobiles, Greeks were making a great escape from the city after two years of lockdown in order to celebrate Easter in the villages with family and friends. All intercity buses, airplanes and trains are operating at almost full capacity from Thursday until Saturday, with the numbers of passengers seen peaking on Thursday and Good Friday.
There was a 30-35 pct increase in intercity bus bookings relative to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, while additional bus services were being planned to meet the high demand, boosted by the fact that fares remain unchanged and are cheaper than all other modes of travel.
Passenger traffic on trains was also very high, according to operator TRAINOSE, with most trains running at full capacity, especially on the Athens-Thessaloniki line.
TRAINOSE said that it would increase the number of carriages on InterCity services between Thursday and Saturday, to assist travellers.
Demand for domestic flights was also at a peak from the weekend of April 16-17 and throughout Holy week, with planes fully booked on Thursday and Good Friday, while there was also higher demand for international destinations, such as Cyprus, the UK, France and Germany.
The number of bookings was similar to that in Easter 2019 even though the number of available seats was lower by 20 pct relative to before the pandemic. The signs indicate that air travel is once again a top preference for travellers, with an increase recorded in March and expectations that this will rise further in the summer months, with available seats approaching the levels of 2019.