New ATAC head faces the heat

 The second phase of a reduced summer timetable for Rome's public buses and trams begins on Monday 29 July and lasts until the end of August.

The further reduction of services follows the first phase of the summer public transport timetable which coincided with the closure of the city's schools. Traditionally August in Rome is a quiet period, with many residents abandoning the heat of the city and many businesses shutting down for much of the month.

During the second reduced transport plan, some bus lines are suspended while others follow a reduced timetable. However there are no changes to 40 day-time bus lines, including the Ostia beach buses, much in demand this time of year. Likewise there is no change in schedule for the city's 27 night buses.

The regional trains also follow a summer timetable until the start of September, although there will be extra weekend services on the Lido train which runs until midnight on Saturdays in August. For full travel details see Rome's mobility agency website.

Trade unions representing workers at Trotta Bus Services, the tourist coach company, have scheduled a four-hour strike on Monday 5 August, from 08.30-12.30. There is also a strike planned on Monday 9 September by Cotral, the long-distance bus service that connects Rome to surrounding towns in the Lazio region.

The strike news follows the capital's recent appointment of Milan's Danilo Broggi as the new head of Rome bus company ATAC. Broggi is the former head of Consip, the public body owned by Italy's finance ministry, set up in 1997 to spearhead the modernisation of the nation's public adminstration.

Broggi has to reduce ATAC's debts to the city which will total €744 million by the end of 2013. He has also hinted that he will reduce the present 82 managers by 20 and cut the salaries of the remaining managers by ten per cent.

The financial situation is not the only problem facing ATAC. Its workers continue to strike for the renewal of their contract and, according to the city's transport councillor under the previous mayor Gianni Alemanno, each ATAC driver has accumulated an average of over 60 days of holiday due to lack of staff.

In June ATAC presented a new fleet of 337 crimson-red buses. The new buses are more environmentally-friendly, more accessible for disabled commuters and are all equipped with speakers and display panels to communicate upcoming bus stops and directions. The fleet comprises 206 of the 12-m buses and 131 of the "jumbo" 18-m type.