By Evie Andreou
NICOSIA Municipality is looking to buy 13 small buses to serve the old town, within the walls, with the ultimate objective of making the historic part of the town a car-free-zone.
The new public buses that have been on the roads for three years or so are too large to enter the narrow roads in the old city and come only as far as Solomou Square just inside the walls.
The purchase of the new smaller buses, for which the municipality has announced a competition, falls within the framework of ‘the Nicosia Integrated Mobility Master Plan’ which aims at changing Nicosians commuting habits.
“The buses will cover the old part of the town and the objective of the plan is to make most of the historic part of town a pedestrian area and to reduce personal car usage to the minimum,” said public works official Aristotelis Savva.
Six in ten respondents in Cyprus have never used public transport, according to a recent a Eurobarometer report, a statistic the plan aims to change by creating a sustainable mobility development by 2020.
In order to do so, the plan suggests the evaluation and development of the public transport system in order to facilitate and encourage residents in urban areas to use the buses and bicycles, as well as the introduction of a tram that will connect the city centre with the suburbs. Although much of Old Nicosia is pedestrianised, a glut of new establishments that have sprung up around Phaneromeni and beyond have increased traffic in the old town, especially at night.
Savva said that as part of the plan, a bicycle-lane network was also been created, in stages, with the aim of connecting all Nicosia universities to the city centre.
The plan is being funded with EU structural funds and falls within the greater ‘Nicosia Area Plan’, which was presented last month by the capital’s mayor Constantinos
Yiorkadjis to the Communications and Works Minister Marios Demetriades.
The plan, which includes urban, transport and environmental projects, aims to improve the image of the town’s centre and to contribute to the town’s economic development and revitalisation.