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Our View: Nicosia’s park and ride scheme really must save time

traffic congestion at the kalispera traffic lights at the entry to nicosia

The government’s park and ride scheme will be introduced on Monday. The bus lane leading into Nicosia from the GSP stadium will be opened and there will be frequent buses between 7am and 9am, as part of a government drive to reduce the car traffic in the capital.

The idea, which sounds good, is that people driving from out of town to work in Nicosia would leave their cars in the GSP stadium car park (free of charge) and jump on a bus that will take them to the entry of town, presumably the end of Makarios Avene. Only later, when smart traffic lights are installed would the bus go to the centre of town, transport minister Alexis Vafeades said.

According to estimates by the transport ministry, using the bus would take 20 minutes less to get to the capital than driving a car because of the bus lane. Had the bus stopping every few minutes been factored in?  Some things remain unclear. Will there be a bus lane on Lemessos Avenue, from the Kalisperas traffic lights to the existing bus lane on Makarios Avenue?

If there is not, the bus would move as slowly as the cars on this stretch of road. If the government is considering turning one lane on Lemessos Ave into a bus lane it would significantly reduce travel time into the capital, but car drivers would be up in arms. The extra-long car queues in such a case might be an incentive to use the bus.

The frequent bus service will run from 7am to 9am, but what would happen in the afternoon/early evening when people are leaving their work? The traffic on Lemessos Ave heading to the highway is chock a block after 5.30pm. Will there be a bus lane in that direction that would allow bus users to get to GSP stadium faster than if they were in a car? If there is not, the possibility of the scheme succeeding will be very low.

It may have been a better idea for the government to have waited to have a full scheme in place – bus lane all the way to the centre of town and another from the centre to GSP and frequent service at morning and afternoon rush hours. The service has to be very reliable and timesaving if car-loving Cypriots are to leave their cars at the stadium and take the park and ride option.

It has to be a time- and cost-saving proposition before the government advertises and promotes it. Heavy advertising and promotional gimmicks will be necessary to convince people to leave their cars at GSP and take the bus into town. People who are persuaded to park and ride, through the advertising campaign, would have to be satisfied with the service to keep using it. From what has been said so far, it does not seem like the service will be good enough to persuade drivers to get out of their car and take the bus.

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