With Greece still reeling from a long economic recession, the country’s public transport is suffering. Today, in Thessaloniki and Athens, bus fleets are old and causing a lot of pollution. Currently, it can be hard for some people to find a bus and the number of people employed by the bus service companies has been declining due to a lack of recruitment over the last ten years. The bus system is expected to get worse unless action is taken.

To improve transport, Athens and Thessaloniki are developing the Bus Fleet Renewal Action Plan for 2021-2030. To make public transport sustainable and meet the requirements of the EU Clean Vehicles Directive, these Greek cities have a big hill to climb.


The Greek Ministry of Transport is working closely with the urban transport authorities of the two cities to improve bus services, which involves the purchase of around 1 500 green buses over the next ten years. The Transport Ministry looked at European Investment Bank financing and EU Structural Funds to support the project. JASPERS, the Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions programme, which is an advisory initiative run by the Bank and the European Commission, supported the ministry in developing a 10-year fleet replacement plan and defining a scheme for the first investment phase in 2023-24, with a view to making future applications for European Union grants.

The combined support of the Advisory Hub and JASPERS will help Athens and Thessaloniki to meet their climate objectives. Cities should integrate environmental issues into their urban transport planning and accelerate their transition to sustainable development. By planning and investing wisely in green technologies, Athens and Thessaloniki can provide their citizens with cleaner and more comfortable urban transport in an environmentally-friendly fashion.