The Greek government is determined to crackdown fare evasion in buses. Since early July, only front door boarding is allowed. Also, passengers must validate tickets in front of drivers. This approach already exists in many other European cities. In some cases, like Rome, it goes beyond.
According to figures released by the Managing Director of Road Transport SA Mr. George Glykos, the measure has achieved a 100% ticket validation increase in buses. Next steps are focused on launching ticket inspections and issuing fines.
The mandatory front door boarding and ticket validating measure encountered initial complications. At first, Athens Urban Transport Organisation OASA Workers’ Union firmly opposed. They insisted it would slow the service and cause delays in lines which were already presenting crowded cues at certain stops.
On the other hand, communication actions did not reach effectively. Athens Transport announced the need to validate tickets when entering buses with stickers on vehicles and at screens on “smart stops”. Nevertheless, many people were not aware of it. Consequently, validation in buses increased 100%, whilst it rose 300% in metro.
Financial incentives to assure front door boarding
Given the initial opposition, the Greek government is offering financial incentives to those drivers that comply with the new rules. The main doubt, however, is how will they certify the drive does actually check passengers, since there is no objective methodology. Moreover, validation machines are behind drivers, not next to them. Thus, it is harder to check.
Increase in staff
The previous approach is a short term action. OASA aims to recruit inspectors to deploy ticket checks instead of drivers. The transport operators plans to train 200 people. Currently, they have approved 140 recruitments and have started to train 65 workers.
Front door boarding: a historical objective
OASA has attempted to implement the front door boarding several times in recent years, but without success. In summer 2013, the government announced the implementation of the measure on 51 bus lines with the aim of extending it to all of them. Finally, although the pilot was deployed as planned, it was quickly forgotten since no driver was controlling the entry of the passengers.
The operator attempted again in November 2014. This time on 56 bus lines. Again, the OASA Workers’ Union reacted and the measure was not implemented.
According to reports published in 2016, there was a collective agreement. OASA provided bonuses to bus drivers voluntarily participating in the check-in of passengers on board. This bonus was equal to 20% of the increase in revenue due to of these checks. In practice, however, nothing happened again.