Panagiotis Sgouridis (Ministry IT&N), Måns Lindberg (EC), Ioannis Palaistis (ThePTA), George Giannopoulos (HIT) © ThePTA

The paramount necessity for the transition of the Thessaloniki Public Transport Authority (ThePTA) into an Integrated Authority for Transportation and Mobility in order to achieve the modernization of the public transport system in the Metropolitan Thessaloniki area, as well as the harmonization with the EC Regulation 1370/2007, has been strongly expressed by the speakers and participants of the ThePTA Conference in their entirety. The one-day Conference was organized by ThePTA on November 25, 2015, addressing the topic of “Public Transport Authorities as a Key Factor towards promoting Sustainable Urban Mobility – ThePTA’s Tomorrow”.

The conference counted with the presence of the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, Mr Panagiotis Sgouridis, the Regional Vice Governor of Thessaloniki, Mrs VoulaPatoulidou, the Mayors of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, Mr Giannis Boutaris and the Municipality of Thermaikos, Mr Giannis Mavromatis, Mr Måns Lindberg, representative of Mrs Violeta Bulc, the Commissioner for Transport (DG MOVE), experts from Greece and abroad, as well as representatives from municipalities and local authorities. Moreover, the support of the Director of the Hellenic Institute of Transport (HIT) of the Hellenic Center for Research and Technology (CERTH), Mr George Giannopoulos and the President of the Organization of Urban Transportation of Thessaloniki (OASTh), Mr Christos Stefanidis shows that the transition scheme is widely accepted and its necessity is recognized by the whole spectrum of relevant stakeholders.

The Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, Mr Panagiotis Sgouridis, highlighted in his speech that “our contractual obligations to the European Unions must be fulfilled. Following the adoption of the EU Regulation of 2007 we should establish free choice of transport operators. The Ministry recognizes the effort and the work performed by the Organization of Urban Transportation of Thessaloniki (OASTh) within the Metropolitan Area of Thessaloniki, but the transportation system should be organized in a better way. Thus, we need to move towards innovative policies to the direction of urban mobility, environmental protection, resource economization etc, and consequently proceed to combined transportation, environmentally friendly transport modes, one-way street arrangements, new technologies, telematics services, extension of the bus lanes network, electronic ticketing etc. For this reason, we plan the transition of ThePTA into an Integrated Authority for Transportation and Mobility, based on the model of the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA). We already have the preliminary draft study and by the end of the year, the relevant committee will be established, public consultation will be put forward, and the new model for Thessaloniki will be defined”. Mr Sgouridis actually pointed out that the Committee that will promote the transition of ThePTA into an Integrated Authority for Transportation and Mobility for the Metropolitan area of Thessaloniki will be established within a month’s period, followed by public consultation for the establishment of the new body. 

The President of ThePTA, Mr Giannis Palaistis, stated that “the transition of ThePTA into an Integrated Authority for Transportation and Mobility will be a significant reform, for which ThePTA plays a pioneering role, since we have already submitted to the Ministry a comprehensive study for the transition towards the new era”. The Integrated Authority will be able to tender, coordinate and supervise transportation services within the Metropolitan area of Thessaloniki, supervise fare policy, harmonize the requirements of the European directives and regulations, plan and make transport policy. Competition in transportation will be introduced in 2016. We owe to be ready and this can be achieved with the transition of ThePTA into an Integrated Authority for Transportation and Mobility”.

 “ThePTA’s important work is not going to stop here. We are in the beginning of the new program period of 2014-2020 and it is an important opportunity to claim funding for the implementation of new projects that will contribute towards the accomplishment of the public transportation vision. The European Commission published in December 17th, 2013, the new “Urban Mobility Package”, where a connection between new funding for 2014-2020 and preparedness of cities to plan and implement measures of sustainable mobility are connected. For this reason, there is an opportunity for ThePTA to claim funding for actions and investment on sustainable mobility through the new structural and investment funds of the EU for the period 2014-2020, as well as through “Horizon 2020”, as stated by the ThePTA President, Mr Palaistis.

The representative of the EU Transport Commissioner, Mr Måns Lindberg, underlined that “there is absolute necessity for the transition of ThePTA into an Integrated Authority for Transportation and Mobility, since all the new technologies should be incorporated, public transport should be modernized, urban mobility should be sustainable and a number of EU goals should be achieved, such as duplication of public transport usage by 2025, limitation of emissions of pollutants etc. Public transport is the pillar for the future of mobility in Europe, but the existence of an Integrated Authority for Transportation and Mobility is needed in every area and for this reason the transition of ThePTA is necessary”.

The Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr Giannis Mpoutaris, highlighted that “today’s conference is extremely important for Thessaloniki. ThePTA performs an essential role, however it cannot continue with its solely advisory function. Its work is of very good quality and it should become autonomous and a decisive body that will govern the operations of all transport modes in the city”.  

Except for Mr Lindberg and Mr Palaistis, a written statement from a UITP representative was presented, while presentations were also delivered by the President of the Technical Chamber of Greece / Section of Central Macedonia (TEE/TKM), Mr Paris Billias, the Technical Director of the Bologna Transport Authority (SRM) in Italy, Mr Tommaso Bonino, the representative of the municipal Council of Riga in Latvia, Ms Jelena Dzikevica, and the ThePTA collaborators, Ms Dimitra Komnianou, transportation engineer & planner, and finally Mrs Maria Chatzikonstantinou, attorney at law.   

The need for the transition was also stressed out by all the participants of the conference, who praised the work of the President of ThePTA, Mr Giannis Palaistis, towards the effort to improve the transportation services in Thessaloniki and solve the problems related to transportation and citizens’ mobility.