Cyprus declares war on cars

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Transport authorities are declaring war on the car in a bid to solve the traffic gridlock in the capital Nicosia and reduce pollution levels by persuading people to use buses.

In comments to Phileleftheros, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said plans to alleviate traffic jams include more bus lanes and turning many main road arteries into one-way streets.

As the minister conceded, the ministry’s traffic plans would increase inconvenience for people choosing to use their cars to benefit those using public transport.

He said the goal was to discourage people from getting into their private vehicles, acknowledging at the same time that public transport needs a serious upgrade.

The Department of Public works will start implementing measures once the drafts of two sustainability studies on the Nicosia Urban Mobility Plan are completed in October.

Karousos said authorities are ready to start revamping the capital, giving residents the heads up as “Nicosia is in for a massive makeover”.

“There will be preferential treatment for buses, which will be noticeable to everyone.

“Buses will have the whole lane to themselves, without having to slow down at any point, while cars will be immobilised in traffic jams,” said the minister.

The aim is to increase passenger volumes on buses while achieving a reduction in the use of private vehicles, alleviating traffic gridlock and improving the environment.

Karousos told Phileleftheros that the infrastructure being created today would be used in the future to introduce trams in Nicosia.

Buses will not stop at junctions, as a smart traffic light system will sense when a bus is approaching, switching to green, allowing the bus to pass.

The ministry will be calling for tenders for 125 such smart systems.

It has asked for a study concerning the current school hours and civil service timetables to reduce peak-hour congestion.

According to Karousos, traffic jams will be eased if the hours are shifted, highlighting that the working hours of the public sector must also change.