Nowadays, all over the world, but also in our country, Cyprus, mobility and transportation challenges are prominent. The lack of public transport and use of alternative transportation means in Cyprus have a clear effect on traffic, air quality, as well as the economy. Individual cars are currently the most commonly used type of transportation in Cyprus with ownership reaching up to 553 personal vehicles per thousand people on the island. Moreover, 52% of all energy used in Cyprus is for road transport. This is the 3rd highest percentage in the whole of Europe. Heavy car traffic causes many problems not only for local people but also for natural environment. It results in excessive fuel consumption, elevated exhaust emissions (hence bad air quality) and reduces the flow of traffic.
However, environmental pollution and traffic density in Cyprus could be significantly reduced with the use of alternative means of transportation. The various transport modes like public buses, bicycles or shared cars can be an easy fix for increasing quality of life for residents and commuters, but also to develop Cypriot economy. Reductions not only in carbon dioxide emissions, but also other toxic gasses, which is the direct corollary of using alternative transportation means, will help us to live in a healthy environment, and simultaneously to reduce the high cost of using individual vehicles.
Additionally, there is a great need for the creation of interchange points in Cyprus. These would be multimodal points where commuters could change means of transport (e.g. leave their car and take the bus) with integrated facilities that can increase economic activity. Raising awareness and motivating commuters to make use of these points is key for the adoption of alternative transportation. Residents need to be provided with the necessary information about the bus routes, the cost of tickets, the savings achieved, and the platform to exchange services and information.
Busses in Cyprus are currently offering all day routes within the cities, but also between the cities. Each city has their own organization managing the bus fleet and routes, while intercity buses are also managed separately. Bus fares are relatively low compared to other European cities. Currently there is one fare for all routes taken within a city, regardless of the distance travelled. This is soon to change with the introduction of a mobility card (similar to Londonís Oyster card) which will be topped up and fares will be caped for daily and monthly tickets. Moreover, cities are adopting the use of small buses for commuting within the city centre. This is already happening in Nicosia which is offering two routes (?1, ?2) at no cost, and Limassol is soon to follow. One of the drawbacks with bus routes is the lack of interconnections between municipalities (lack of interchange points) due to the design of cities in Cyprus. Most Cypriot cities have a radial development pattern, with all municipalities developing outwards, away from a city centre. Therefore, bus routes are also designed along these lines, with all routes starting from the city centre and moving outwards. As a result, people having to commute between municipalities are forced to travel through the city centre. Furthermore, there is still stigma linked to the use of buses, as it is often considered as a sign of lower economic status.
Cycling, on the other hand, especially in coastal cities, is seeing rapid growth, partly because of the sports/health trend, and the development of sports tourism in Cyprus. Cycling infrastructure is being included in many new developments and a cycling culture has established in recent years. Events like the Sunshine Cup, an international mountain bike event, attracts the top cyclists from all around the world, while the weather from autumn to end of spring is ideal for road cycling. However, the driving culture in Cyprus is causing safety issues for cyclists, since sharing the road with cyclists is not an integral part of driving training. Adding to that is the lack of cycling infrastructure within buildings (such as showers, bike parks etc.).
In terms of car-sharing and commuting in groups, it is extremely important to have a secure platform where people can communicate their needs/routes. Recently, a new Facebook page has been created for people who need a ride, but this is still at its first steps.
Using alternative transport would, adding to all the aforementioned benefits, be an example of human collaboration and strong social initiative which could bring power to local groups and communities who are anxious about their place of living, environment, and nature.
Concluding, and taking into account all the benefits from using ecological friendly transportation means, promoting alternative transport is a goal that we would like to support. In order to make this a reality, we would like to create an electronic platform in our web site and linked with phone applications which people can be informed 24/7 for every available option. ††