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Traffic reduction by 25% at the entrance of Nicosia – “The creation of a railway is possible”

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ΜεΙωση κυκλο&phi ;οριακοΙ κατΑ 25% στην εΙσοδο της Λ&epsilon ;υκωσΙας-«Εφικτor η δημιουργΙα σ&iota ;δηροδρoμου»

Assurances for a significant improvement or solution to the traffic problem in Cyprus, given by the Minister of Transport, Communications and Works Yannis Karousos, in an interview he granted to the Cyprus News Agency, explaining that for the first time Cyprus is drawing up a plan and strategy with various measures and initiatives , which aim to solve the problem.

Yannis Karousos reports that traffic will be reduced by 25% at the entrance to Nicosia, with the delivery of the first phase of the Ring road, it will be reduced with the installation of smart traffic lights from January 2023, with the implementation of staggered timetables of work in the public service and in education, for which a study shows an improvement of 6%, with the integrated network of bus lanes in Nicosia, for which a study is being submitted these days, but also with the creation of a railway in Cyprus, which according to him “it is a more feasible solution than the tram”.

Mr. Karousos admits that “traffic is a problem that afflicts the whole world”, however, he clearly emphasizes that the projects that have been decided to be done or are being done are promising “significant improvement” and possibly solving the traffic problem.

In the interview he granted to KYPE, he analyzes one by one the measures and initiatives undertaken by his Ministry, emphasizing the construction of the Perimeter road in Nicosia, the installation of smart traffic lights, the start of construction of the uneven interchange on the Limassol-Nicosia highway , which will join Stavrou Avenue, in the implementation of staggered working hours in the public service and in education, as well as in the submission of the study for a more integrated network of bus lanes in Nicosia.

According to Yannis Karousos, the specific measures are divided into three categories and relate to the major road projects, which will decongest the entrance to Nicosia, to technology, since for the first time technology is introduced in Cyprus in the management of traffic, as well as to public passenger transport and the improvement them.

On the other hand, he states that Road Safety remains an important issue for the Ministry, the budget of which has increased significantly and specifically from 150 thousand it records an increase of around one million per year.

With regard to the reduction of road collisions, the Minister of Transport states that with the initiation of a series of actions and initiatives, but also with the promotion of changes in the legislation, their reduction has been achieved to date to 33.71%, while citing statistics , which demonstrate that with the implementation of the photo-marking system since the beginning of the year, road collisions have decreased throughout Cyprus.

25% reduction at the entrance to Nicosia

Commenting on the fact that traffic jams are becoming more and more frequent lately, especially at the entrance and exit of Nicosia, and asked to report if there are any solutions, Mr. Karousos told KYPE that “traffic is a problem that affects everyone and concerns some hours of the day, especially in the morning between 07:00 and 08:30 and in the afternoon when people return from work”.

He emphasizes that the Nicosia Ring Road, at a cost of around 75 million , is expected to be delivered, according to the schedule, towards the end of 2023, while noting that it will reduce the number of cars at the entrance to Nicosia by 25%.

Referring further to the major road projects, the Ministry of signed a contract for the improvement/construction of Hippocrates and Argyroupoleos Avenues, a project which will add another percentage to the 25%.

He explained to KYPE that “it is about the road, which will connect Tseriou Avenue and Perimetriko with Lakatamia”, while he added that the uneven junction in Stavrou will also help in terms of traffic, as well as some other projects, such as the Avenue Famagusta.

Regarding the uneven junction in Stavrou, he said that “it is very important” for the issue of traffic, since the lights of “Kalispera” will be abolished, there will be smooth traffic and the traffic at the entrance to the city will significantly improve.

“However, the most important projects are Perimetrikos, Ippokratous – Argyroupoleos, and Alexandroupoleos in Strovolos, which, based on studies, will decongest and improve traffic by up to 70% in the center of Strovolos, when and once completed”, he noted.

In addition, the Minister of Transport stated that the Perimetrikos is a project, which has been included in the trans-European transport networks, while he noted that there was a recent update of the trans-European transport network and after much preparation and preliminary work it became possible for Cyprus to participate in two European corridors of transport.

Specifically, he explained that with this success Cyprus managed to participate in corridors from 5,850 km. road network length to 17,700km (+203%), from 15 to 29 Airports (+93%), from 16 to 33 Ports (+106%) and connection between from 9 to 23 countries (+156%).

In the meantime, he added that in the context of the update, the city of Larnaca enters as a central urban center together with Nicosia and Limassol and now apart from the highways, which were already in the trans-European transport network, the internal network is growing and growing.

According to the responsible Minister, around the end of January, the extension of the   Nicosia – Palechorio highway to Agros and Kyperounda will be signed, explaining that when this network is completed, someone will be able to travel with their vehicle from Limassol to Nicosia through mountainous areas, using the highway.

In January 2023 the installation of smart traffic lights

The competent Minister explains that the installation of smart traffic lights will also contribute to easing traffic, since according to a study carried out, it is found that in the countries where the specific systems have been installed, there has been a reduction in traffic, with an improvement starting from 10% and up to 35%.

He added, moreover, that for the first time in Cyprus, smart lights will be installed in Nicosia and Limassol, which “will improve traffic,  while he added that the installation electronic signs on highways to inform drivers will help manage traffic.

He announced that the installation of smart lights starts in January 2023 and the creation of a traffic management center through Intelligent Systems is already underway, where 125 traffic light points in Nicosia and Limassol, specifically 80 in Nicosia and 45 in Limassol, will be installed intelligent systems, which through artificial intelligence and sensors will manage traffic and give the corresponding priority.

He pointed out that the technology was already being used at the Agia Phyla roundabout, where measurements have shown that the expected travel time in the northern part, from the highlands to the northern part of the roundabout, has been reduced by at least 50%.

At the same time, he mentioned that another system of Intelligent Systems is being implemented, which includes sensors, cameras and electronic signs along the highways, through which drivers will be informed with announcements about issues related to their journey, but and we will be able to manage the traffic with the corresponding statistics that will be obtained.

Driver violations reduced by photo-marking

When asked if there are any results in reducing road collisions with the implementation of the photo-marking system, the Minister of Transport said that the first phase is under execution, to add that in the places where it has been installed “there are already reductions in the violations of the Road Traffic Code”.

“The system in question”, according to Mr. Karousos, “is an important tool, which we now have in our possession, aimed at preventing and preventing traffic violations, which will result in a further reduction of road collisions and deadly”.

More specifically, Mr. Karousos said that we are in the first official phase and the first 16 mobile cameras and another 20 fixed cameras have been purchased in six places in Nicosia and Limassol, while he explained that “the aim of system is to operate proactively and not to collect extrajudicially”.

“The places where the installation takes place are places that have been characterized as black or problematic by the police and the road sector. It is important and it can be seen from the statistics that road collisions are decreasing throughout Cyprus. We have to wait, for a period to pass, so that we can make the necessary comparisons”, he added.

A 6% improvement shows the flexible schedule study

When asked if the issue of the implementation of staggered working hours in the public service and in education has finally been resolved or remains open, Yannis Karousos replied that his Ministry promotes flexible hours, noting that “the study on flexible hours has been completed which shows that there will be at least an improvement of around 6% in traffic if the flexible hours of the Public Service are set between 07:00 and 09:00”.

“6%”, explained Mr. Karousos, “may seem low, but it is an essential difference, in order to have smooth traffic without congestion”.

More complete network of bus lanes in Nicosia

For public passenger transport and its improvement, he said that the study for the integrated network of bus lanes in Nicosia is being submitted these days, according to which the bus will operate seamlessly from one end of Nicosia until the other – and not in parts – as it is today.

“Once the drafts are submitted, opinions will be given, then the plans will be updated and then the Department of Public Works will construct these lanes. This will give a high priority to buses”, added the Minister of Transport.

Increase in bus traffic since 2012  

He pointed out that there is a significant increase in the movements of citizens by bus, noting that in 2012 the movements amounted to 10 million, while by the end of 2022 the number increases to 24 million.

In addition, he said that the bus lanes in terms of public passenger transport will be an infrastructure that will help and strengthen the buses, to add that infrastructure is also being promoted, such as stops, shelters, bus lanes in Limassol and Larnaca and many more.

Answering a question about the actions expected by the Ministry in 2023 for transportation, he said that it has been completed by  Ministry of Transport the signing of contracts in all provinces, for the long-distance connection with the new public passenger transport system.

“Now the risk is with the contractor, therefore the revenue stays with the contractor. That is why the contractor must have a network, to offer such a service, so as to increase its passengers, so as to benefit from the revenues. Use of modern technologies with updated network, increased mileage and telematics. Based on statistics, we now have a clearer picture of the use of buses, as well as data to improve them,” he said.

In addition, he said that the next step is the installation of bus stops and shelters, explaining that although the matter was the responsibility of the Municipalities, however, the Ministry undertook the installation in priority points, and is in the final stages of the financial offer.

He also mentioned that the offers are being evaluated and at the end of February “it is expected that this grand project of 75 million will be signed, for stands and shelters, which will be autonomous and have self-production of electricity, which will be required through photovoltaics “.

At the same time, he said that the Ministry has a program, which grants Municipalities and Communities up to €2,500 per shelter, for the purchase and installation of shelters.

It is possible to create a railway in Cyprus

Asked to state whether it is possible to operate a railway in Cyprus, to solve the traffic problem and if there are prospects for its co-financing, Mr. Karousos said that the railway is possible in Cyprus, and in fact, as he argued, “it is much more feasible and easier to be built in relation to the tram, since the railway can be installed along the highway, without the need for expropriations.”

It is just, he explained, “the movement of services is needed”. According to the Minister of Transport, there is a study, which has shown that it is not sustainable, so it needs funding from the EU.

As he said “we want to promote it and that's why during the recent visit of the EU Transport Commissioner, Adina Valean to Cyprus, I had a bilateral meeting with her and raised the issue of funding to promote the project from the EU ».

He went on to say that “the study shows that the railway can be installed, which will connect the cities with the airports and ports, and of course there are prospects for its financing”, however, he noted that “it is a monumental project, which will exceed 1, 5 billion in costs”.

“There are ways either with an investor or in some other way, the time has come to open this issue”, he said.

In 33 .71% reduction in fatal collisions

In relation to the actions, which have been prepared by the Ministry of Transport, to reduce traffic accidents, Mr. Karousos said that when he took over the Ministry of Transport in the year 2019, there were 52 fatalities, to add that   then a series started of actions and initiatives, as well as promoting the change of legislation, in order to reduce fatalities and road collisions.

He explained that although unfortunately the result to date amounts to 37 fatalities, nevertheless, the percentage of reduction is at 33.71%.

“The goal is to reduce that number, even if it is the lowest we've had in the last 11 years. At the same time, these results show that the actions and initiatives that have been taken have brought results”.  

Regarding the actions carried out and promoted by his Ministry, Mr. Karousos said that for for the first time they have promoted protective equipment grant programs, which started with the motorcyclist body airbag, a program that has been embraced by motorcyclists, after about 2,700 applied to secure a body airbag grant.

He also said that they have significantly increased the Road Safety budget from 150 thousand to 1 million per year, while 1,050,000 million will be used for the three-year period 2022-2024, for the provision of protective equipment to motorcyclists, who are the most ” vulnerable” users of the road network based on statistics.

At the same time, he referred to the important changes that have been made in the legislation and related to Road Safety, noting that “the proposal to include road safety messages has been approved by Parliament safety in advertisements that have to do with the sale of vehicles and the sale of alcohol”.

Furthermore, according to the competent Minister, changes to the legislation regarding driver's licenses have been promoted and are pending in Parliament, especially in in relation to motorcyclists.

Specifically, he mentioned that the learner's license has been given an expiry date of 2 years, while apprentices will be allowed to use the road network, accompanied instructor and with the use of additional protective equipment.

Source: www.reporter.com.cy

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