In order to reduce traffic congestion during carnival week, especially during the main carnival parade on Sunday, the Municipality of Xanthi arranged shuttle services from parking areas to the city centre. The key partners involved were the local authorities, traffic police and shuttle services providers.
Background & Objectives
The city of Xanthi welcomes more than 250,000 visitors during Carnival Week, the parade on Sunday being especially popular. This results in severe traffic congestion and lengthy travel times on main routes. The goal of the shuttle bus service was to decrease traffic congestion and travel times to and from the festivities, to increase the quality of provided services and to sustain the popularity of the carnival. The decision to implement the measure was taken by the Municipality in cooperation with the traffic police and the parking facilities owners/managers.
A free-parking area was created, 3km away from Xanthi (at the old airport near the Neos Zigos area) and free shuttle bus services are offered to visitors, taking them from the parking area to the city centre. The service is offered only during Carnival week and more services are provided on Carnival parade day. Implementation involved identification of available and suitable parking areas, organisation of shuttle services and promotion of the project via various websites and other means.The local authorities are responsible for the organisation of shuttle services every year and for the promotion of the project. Traffic police are responsible for informing tourists and guiding them to parking areas.>One obstacle which has become apparent is that visitors don’t always trust the safety of the parking areas and prefer to reach the city centre by car, despite the fact that this may take 1-2 hours. Due to this unforseen complication, traffic congestion still exists, making it more difficult for the shuttle buses to reach their destination too.
Traffic congestion has significantly decreased since implementation of the shuttle bus project. Given the fact that the cost for the shuttle service is relatively low, the measure can be viewed as a considerable success. In order for the maximise the service potential, sufficient signs need to be installed so tourists are fully aware. Signs should also be in visible prior to the restricted zone entrance. Information signs about the shuttle service should also be available at strategic points.
Critical success factors in this project were efficient cooperation between local authorities and traffic police; efficient planning of shuttle services (frequency and routes); strategic selection of parking areas; and wide promotion of the service. Future developments of the measure are to include identification of additional parking areas and the introduction of more frequent shuttle services.
Best practice has been collected within the starter project - http://www.starter-project.eu/.
Picture Copyright: visitgreece.gr