Study highlights commuting problems in Athens

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A study of transport conditions for workers in the Athens area, carried out between July and October 1997 on behalf of a trade union-based research institute, reveals that poor commuting conditions are a factor that causes both a deterioration in the quality of life and one million lost working hours a year.

Between 6 July and 3 October 1997 a study was carried out on behalf of the Athens Labour Centre (EKA) - a trade union-based research institute - on transport conditions for workers in the Athens urban area.The study shows that the conditions under which wage earners in the capital commute to and from work have grown into a major problem: workers who are obliged to make many frequent trips sacrifice a large part of their free time. This has a negative impact on their family life, recreation and social activities. In addition, according to the study, transport conditions cause the loss of one million working hours per year resulting in an increase in the cost of labour and a decline in the quality of work.

The study, which was carried out on a sample of 2,809 workers aged 18 and over, reveals that wage earners in the Athens area spend on average about 30 minutes a day travelling to work, whereas around 25% take more than 60 minutes to get to work every day.

Only three out of 10 workers in the Athens area use public transport to reach their place of work. By contrast, 30.5% normally use private cars as a means of transport, whilst 11.6% use motorcycles and 12.8% walk to work. Public transport is used most by bank employees (44.1%), unskilled workers (37.5%) and junior employees in the private sector (36.1%).

The overwhelming majority of those questioned (81.7%) declared themselves to be extremely unhappy with the operation of public transport. This was particularly true of bus and trolley-bus users. Those most satisfied with their means of transport were users of motorcycles and the electric railway.

In their comments on the study, the administration of the EKA observes that transport conditions for wage earners, instead of improving, are getting worse every year and are undermining the quality of life and work. They also stress the need for systematic intervention by the trade unions on this issue, particularly by those represented in the relevant enterprises (such as the Athens Public Transportation Organisation). The measures proposed for dealing with the problem include:

  • extension of bus routes for quicker movement of workers;
  • improvement of and support for means of mass transport; and
  • completion and expansion of the Athens metro so that it serves as many areas as possible.
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