New president of Rome public transport company

ATAC denies bankruptcy claims days after departure of director general.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi has appointed Paolo Simioni as new president and managing director of Rome public transport company ATAC, following the dramatic departure of former director Bruno Rota on 28 July.

The mayor has also expanded the top tier of the troubled city company to a three-person board, reducing the power of Manuele Fantasia who until now was sole administrator.

Raggi made the reshuffle on 31 July, three days after Rota departed during the fallout from his hard-hitting interview with Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.

Rota, who left after just three months in the job, described the company's situation as “an appalling scandal” and said that ATAC should declare bankruptcy as it is suffocating under its €1.3 billion debt. He also claimed that the company's lack of funds meant it is no longer able to guarantee the salaries of its 12,000 employees, or pay for the maintenance of its fleet of buses, trams and metro.

Fantasia subsequently denied Rota's claims that ATAC risks bankruptcy, as well as scotching a rumour that the company's fuel supply faces being stopped due to lack of payment, a claim also dismissed by fuel provider Q8 which stated that ATAC always pays on time.

Rota is among a dozen senior city officials who have stood down or been sacked during the administration of Mayor Raggi, of the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle, who came to power in the capital just over a year ago.

ATAC has struggled for years with problems such as high absenteeism and regular strikes, as well as a poorly-maintained and ageing fleet which has led to increasing cases of commuter accidents and buses going on fire while in service.

The latest upset at the company coincides with the month-long closure of seven stations on the Metro A line to facilitate works on the Metro C station at S. Giovanni.