The government is pressing ahead with its policies to discourage the use of private vehicles as it instead looks to promote public transport – with promises of trams and smart traffic lights favouring buses.

Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos on Wednesday said that the one-way streets and bus lanes will facilitate the bus network and future tram system, while likely changes to school and civil servant working hours are also on the cards.

The minister acknowledged that the policies – aimed at reducing sclerotic traffic congestions – will make life harder for those who use private vehicles for transport during rush hour.

“There will be many benefits for those who instead opt for public transport,” Karousos told daily Phileleftheros, adding that the plans aim to primarily decongest the roads entering and exiting Nicosia.

The Cyprus Mail has previously reported that over 90 per cent of the public use private cars for transport – highlighting the scale of the challenge of achieving such a shift.

Karousos stated that from October onwards major works are set for the capital as the first results of two key plans – chief among them, the sustainable mobility plan – are expected in the coming months. The budget is ready, the minister said, so there should be no delays in implementing the plan’s recommendations.

A main aim, he said, is for buses to never have to stop for other vehicles – therefore ensuring that transport by bus is significantly smoother and faster than it currently is. That will, however, come at a cost of how efficient it will be to navigate the city by car.

He further said that smart traffic lights are to be installed which will be able to communicate with oncoming buses and make sure that the light always goes green for them.

Karousos expressed the hope that tenders can be announced for the contract to install the 125 smart lights by September, although it had been previously stated that this would take place in June.

The minister added that they are looking towards students and civil servants travelling in the morning between 7:40am and 9am – explaining that the studies currently being carried out aim to make sure that the rush hour congestion is solved and not simply shifted to a different time.

Another key point is to properly link up the city centre with populous neighbourhoods such as Aglantzia, Strovolos and Lakatamia.

The ministry has been facing mounting pressure to solve the chronic traffic complications plaguing those primarily in Nicosia and Limassol, while also implementing the EU-funded changes to urban mobility.