Atac, the vehicles remain stationary: the last installment has not been paid

Atac, the vehicles remain stationary: the last installment has not been paid
Atac, the vehicles remain stationary: the last installment has not been paid

Monterotondo terminus. Seventy factory-fresh buses, already paid by ATAC at 80%, have been parked for 5 months in a depot on the outskirts of Rome. The municipalized transport of the Capitol would serve as bread to increase the races and finally scrap the 19-year-old vehicles, little more than wrecks, which are still sent to the street, to make a virtue of necessity.

Yet the last installment is missing, which the investee alone is unable to honor. Fault of the precipitated collections due to Covid and above all of the refreshments that have not been paid: Atac is still waiting for the last tranche of 2020 (and we are almost at the end of 2021 …), from 20 million. How much would be enough to pay the final portion of the purchase of the buses, which amounts to approximately 18 million. But the money doesn’t come. And for a series of bureaucratic messes, until the payment is honored, so the contract says, the new hybrid Mercedes will remain parked in the Monterotondo garage. Ready, but unused. While the circulating semi-wrecks are on fire.

Atac, 70 new buses stopped

Could the Capitol have speeded up the arrival of the new vehicles in the warehouses of its subsidiary? Surely. Since February, ATAC has asked the city administration for an advance of 40 million, funds that would be used in the first instance to settle the invoice of the bus manufacturer and then to pay the other suppliers, for example those of spare parts. The former Raggi, however, took time. After a back and forth with the headquarters in via Prenestina, a resolution arrived in the summer that authorized the maxi-loan, but made it subject to an evaluation by the experts of the Atac board of statutory auditors. A sort of placet, which however the body has never released, declaring itself incompetent on the matter. The investee then tried to ask for the go-ahead from the presiding judge of the bankruptcy court, who has not yet expressed himself. Result: no money, no bus.

Atac was clear on this point: we can’t do it alone. We would need the assistance of the Municipality. Or at least the state. Covid refreshments for 2020 alone amounted to 65 million euros, yet a substantial portion of 20 million is still missing in the coffers of the Capitoline company. The commuters pay the price, of course, because if the new shuttles, but not yet registered, remain parked in the depots, the jumbo-sized buses mentioned above go to the street. Vehicles that will be directed immediately to the junkyard, as soon as the new funds are released.

Why is Atac unable to cope alone with a core business expense, such as fleet renewal? The problem is that there is a lack of liquidity. For the company, the service contract with the Municipality is not enough (about half a billion euros a year), ticket revenues are essential. Which with the pandemic have collapsed: from 22 million euros a month, it has fallen to 8 million. Since June, after President Giovanni Mottura and CEO Franco Giampaoletti decided to send the controllers back on board, previously banned by the Ministry, the revenue curve has started to rise again. We travel at the rate of 13 million per month. But compared to the pre-Covid era, 9 million are still missing. A crevasse that someone has to fill in order not to leave passengers (and drivers) on foot. And speaking of drivers: the number of drivers without a Green Pass is increasing. In just over 10 days from the entry into force of the green certificate obligation, 130 were sent home and replaced.

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