A railway is much more feasible an option for Cyprus than tram systems, Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said on Monday in an interview giving an overview of a number of solutions to the island’s chronic traffic issues in the coming years.
In the video interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Karousos said the plans aim at significant improvements or even possibly a solution to the traffic problems in Cyprus.
One of the more immediate improvements, the minister said would be that with the completion of the Nicosia ring road, traffic at the entry to the capital would be reduced by 25 per cent. This should happen by the end of 2023.
Smart traffic lights will start to be installed from next month, he said and staggered timetables would be introduced in the public service and schools at peak morning hours, 7am to 8am. The bus system, which is fractured, is also to be further integrated. “The bus will run seamlessly from one end of Nicosia to the other – and not in sections – as it is today,” Karousos said.
He also revealed that bus journeys has increased from 10 million in 2012 to 24 million by the end of 2022.
All of the measures in the pipeline would bring about a “significant improvement and possibly the solution to traffic problems”.
In the longer term, Karousos said that a railway was a better probability to a tram systems if it could be co-financed by the EU as it would cost €1.5 billion.
“It is much more feasible and easier to be built in relation to a tram system since the railway can be installed along the motorway without the need for [land] expropriations,” he said.
However a study that has already been carried out, shows that without co-financing it would not be possible.
“We want to promote this and that is 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 for the promotion of the project from the EU,” Karousos said.
“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 but of course it would be a monumental project, which will exceed €1.5 billion.”
In the meantime, other solutions to traffic must be found, he said. This includes the ring road for Nicosia, which has a price tag of €75 million. Other roads are also being improved and one of the most important will be the extension of the Nicosia – Palechorio highway to Agros and Kyperounda. When this network is completed, someone will be able to travel from Limassol to Nicosia through mountainous areas, using the highway, he said.
When it comes to inner city problems, Karousos said the installation of smart traffic lights would also contribute to easing traffic, since according to a study, it was found that in countries where the specific systems have been installed, there has been a reduction in traffic, with improvements starting from 10 per cent to 35 per cent.
He noted that the technology was already being used at the Ayia Fyla roundabout, where measurements have shown that the expected travel time in the northern part traffic has been reduced by at least 50 per cent.
Karousos also mentioned that at the same time another ‘intelligent’ system, which includes sensors, cameras and electronic signs along the highways through which drivers will be informed with announcements about issues related to their journey.
The minister said they have already had results from the traffic cams system with reductions in accidents.
“The system in question 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 ,” he said.
The first 16 mobile cameras and another 20 fixed cameras have been placed in six locations in Nicosia and Limassol. “The goal of the system is to operate proactively and to prevent violations, not to collect fines extrajudicially,” he added.
“The places where the installation takes place are places that have been characterized as black or problematic by the police. It is important and it can be seen from the statistics that road collisions are decreasing throughout Cyprus.