Italy’s floating city Venice is preparing to bring in a plan to ease congestion for locals on its “vaporetto” water buses by creating priority queues for residents in a move likely to vex holidaymakers.
The city council on Thursday said the public transport company would soon announce a new boarding system for the vaporetto -- “little steamers” -- which glide down the city’s main canals and connect it to nearby islands.
“The idea is to do something like priority queues at airports, without penalising anyone, whether residents or tourists,” a source at the council said, with Italian media reports adding that the project will be launched in June.
The scheme will be tried out first at eight of the busiest stops, with passholders who live, work or study in the historic centres allowed on first, followed by sightseers and their often bulky baggage.
Mayor Luigi Brugnato has been grappling with the problem of keeping locals happy and preventing Venice -- nicknamed “La Serenissima”, “the most serene” -- from turning into a museum for holidaymakers alone, rather than a working city.
“A worker coming out of a Murano glassworks after eight hours in front of an oven or a mother rushing to pick up her child at daycare must be able to without being crushed in the crowds or running the risk of being late,” he said.
“It’s not about discriminating against tourists, but making Venice more liveable.”
Residents already get a steep discount on water bus tickets, paying 1.50 euros ($1.70) rather than the 7.50 euros forked out by tourists in the canal city, which welcomes millions of visitors a year.
Venice’s permanent population has been on the slide since a 1966 flood displaced several thousand residents, and taxes, rising house costs and mass tourism clogging up its waterways has seen the population plunge below the 60,000 mark.
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