The construction and operation of the tram in the capital was based on the necessity for an alternative means of transport for the citizens that could combine speed, comfort and be environmentally friendly; a mode of transport to equally assist those using it as a means to commute to work, as for the locals and tourists who simply wish to travel through the streets of Athens.
The truth is that the tram was, and still remains, after some years in operation, a controversial issue for the Athenians. The implementation of this project was accompanied by much criticism and skepticism, which was a result of the discomfort inflicted on the residents during the months of its construction, the reminders of its dysfunctional nature in the 1950’s, and the cynicism towards the existence of a traditional mode of transport within a modern era of speed and technology. As a result of all this, the Athenians were hesitant to embrace the tram. During the first months of its operation, it was noted that it shone as a bright light fleeting through the dark and empty tram stations. If this were true in the past, it does not imply today.
The tram is now undoubtedly a part of daily life for the Athenians. It is estimated that it transports thousands of passengers, daily, providing security, comfort and high speed mobility. The unified ticket for all means of transport (including the tram service) costs 1 euro although there are reduced rates for students and children [0,50 cents]. Accordingly, it is interesting to note that the tram has been associated with cultural incentives and initiatives, in an effort to establish its place in the lives of the Athenians. Such campaigns depicted by the slogan “the tram takes us to the theatre”, provided a significant reduction in the price for 30 theatrical shows, for those who chose the tram as their means of transport to the theatre. In addition, there was a reasonable reduction to the entrance fee for the exhibition “ Leonardo da Vinci- his inventions,” for those who chose the tram to travel to the exhibit.
As a means of mobility within the mass transport network, it serves mainly the southern plateau of the Attica region. Presently, it comprises of only 2 lines: Both lines commence from Syndagma, whilst the first line terminates at Voula (northern suburb of Athens – near the beach), and the second line at the Peace and Friendship stadium [S.E.F.]
Furthermore, the connecting points of the tram routes with the remainder of the transport network, not including the numerous bus stops located near tram stops, comprise of the Syndagma stop for metro lines 2 & 3, and Syngrou Avenue and Neos Kosmos stops as a connecting point to metro line 2.
The tram timetables are relatively frequent. During peak hours, there are departures every 5- 10 minutes, and during the remaining times, every 10-20 minutes. In addition, it is very important to emphasize the fact that the tram is the sole means of transport which operates 24 hours a day on Fridays and Saturdays, the days the Athenians organize most of their nightly outings. These measures have enabled the tram to develop into a reliable and appealing means of transport, for romantic evening outings to the coast, Sunday morning excursions, or for simple connections within areas in the city.
The tram executed its first timetables through the streets of Athens in July 2004
Fifty per cent of the funding was provided by the European community and 50% by the state budget.
It comprises of more than 26 kms of tram line, running in opposite directions.
The average speed is approximately 23 kms per hour.
It is designed to provide accessibility to persons with mobility disabilities.
For more information: Athens Tram Website