ATAC fleet of Rome city buses to be boosted by the summer.
Rome's public transport company ATAC is to hire 200 new bus drivers in June, according to an announcement by the city's mayor Virginia Raggi.
The mayor said that the hiring will be entrusted to an external company, awarded by public tender, and would be "a clean break with what happened in the past, in the dark period of Parentopoli", a reference to the scandal which broke in 2010 involving the widespread practice of nepotism at ATAC.
The news - part of what Raggi describes as ATAC's "recovery plan" - follows the mayor's recent announcement that ATAC would rejuvenate its ageing fleet with 227 new buses, purchased with municipal and government funds. The buses are currently in construction in Turkey, according to daily Italian newspaper La Repubblica, and are expected to be operating on the streets of Rome by the summer.
In addition, Raggi said the city had recently leased 38 new buses, to which another 70 second-hand buses will be added in April, coinciding with the gradual return of electric minibuses in central Rome.
Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that the cost of leasing the 38 new buses, from Cialone Tour in Ferentino (Frosinone) amounted to between €50,000 and €80,000, depending on size and capacity. The buses will reportedly be leased for a maximum of 18 months.
Trade unions representing ATAC drivers have voiced numerous complaints about the 38 new buses, ranging from the lack of security cabin for drivers to claims that the clutch and accelerator pedals "are too close together", as well as alleging that the vehicles are too cramped for drivers taller than 1.75m, according to La Repubblica.
The annual rent for the 70 used buses, leased from Società Basco di Olgiate Comasco in northern Italy, will be €60,000 each, including maintenance by an external company, according to Corriere della Sera.
The 70 buses come to Rome from Israel where they have done eight years' service on the roads of Tel Aviv, reports La Repubblica. However their age is not an issue according to David Cartacci, of the Rome and Lazio branch of the Cgil trade union, who told La Repubblica that "unlike the Roman buses, the 70 buses from Israel have received regular maintenance."
The average age of Rome's buses is reportedly 13 years. La Repubblica reports that between buses and trams the ATAC fleet can count 2,150 vehicles, of which about 1,500 are functioning.