Cross-border traffic between Greece and Bulgaria rises up to 50.000 vehicles/day during holidays and weekends, mainly due to leisure trips to/from major tourist destinations in both countries but also due to daily commuters. The large numbers of visitors and resulting traffic, in parallel with the fact that almost all of these trips are executed by private vehicles, in absence of alternative modes, results to increased traffic, delays and environmental pollution at the level of national road networks, but more importantly at the level of regional and local roads at trip ends.
The above problems are increasing during weekends and national holidays. Queues and increased delays are experienced in the cross-border areas, entire road segments operate over their capacity and there is lack of pre-trip information in order to avoid this situation and find other alternative routes or modes. In addition, the absence of adequate information provision to the travelers, either at pre-trip or at en-route level, regarding mobility related issues at their destinations, such as e.g. information on routing, alternative transport means, parking, exact route guidance etc, results to unnecessary trips, increased travel times, delays and other traffic by-products such as environmental pollution due to traffic.
Another accessibility problem is the variance of road characteristics and the different regulations that the driver must follow in every part of the cross-border network. The network between the two main poles of action (Region of Central and Eastern Macedonia – Thrace and Blagoevgrad) presents a variance of quality and characteristics. Additionally there are different driving regulations among the two countries e.g. in Bulgaria the lights must be always on, the speed limits are very low etc, that causes a lot of safety problems for the passengers who travel for the first time in the cross-border routes and requires specific pre-trip information, which is today not offered.
The increased seasonal traffic between the poles of attraction causes also environmental pollution. The vehicles' emissions are the main reason for this problem, which can be easily avoided if the passengers use alternative modes for their trip, if the number of vehicles is well distributed to the alternative routes and during the hours of the day and if the travelers are well informed about where to go and how to get there. The environmental effects have never been assessed, in order to form specific policy measures for the minimization of the pollution and specific environmentally friendly routes to be calculated in order to be followed by the vehicles.
Finally, the accessibility problem of the cross-border area can be also minimized if the visitors are well informed about alternative locations in regions of action. This can be achieved by offering touristic information together with the accessibility and promoting also less known destinations. The above existing problems related to mobility and accessibility largely affect sustainable development, the environment, equal opportunities and fair competition within the entire area, which are horizontal issues tackled by the EasyTrip proposal. As it is obvious, there is clear demand for the expected outputs and results of the specific project because it aims at tackling all the above mentioned accessibility problems and all of the target groups who are the users of the specific network, the residence of the activity areas, the authorities and all the relevant business sectors.