Venice's gondolas 'to get GPS and number plates'

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12:20 CEST+02:00
Two months after a German tourist was killed when the gondola carrying him and his family collided with a vaporetto waterbus, the iconic boats are set to get a major revamp as part of a plan to reduce traffic along Venice’s clogged waterways.

From November 4th tourists travelling along Venice’s world-famous waterways will enjoy a much safer experience, as a series of new measures are introduced, it was announced on Monday.

According to media reports, each vessel will be fitted out with a GPS tracking device, an external number plate and reflectors to make identification easier.

Along with the forty CCTV cameras already in place between San Marco and Ferrovia, such measures will make identification of rule breakers much easier.

The new measures form part of a new 26-point plan drawn up by local authorities to improve water traffic and will also apply to vaporetto waterbuses and taxis.

“We had no alternative, we can no longer pretend that the problem does not exist,” Ugo Bergamo, the city’s transport councilor told Corriere della Sera.

“We are continuing to reduce water traffic by 50 percent in the crucial point of the Grand Canal, that which comes from the municipality of Pescheria and which includes the Rialto Bridge.

“There are around 5000 interested users. We will not start straight away with gondolas, but gondolas will also have to have a ‘numberplate’. Until now there has only been a number located on the inside which cannot be read by surveillance cameras. Instead, we will add a number to the outside, unobtrusive, but which is possible to read.

"Gondoliers will also have to have an identity card. The GPS will serve to control speed, but also to leave a trace of the journey they have carried out.”

Aldo Reato, head of the Venice Ente Gondola Association, refused to comment.

The revamp comes in the wake of the death of German tourist, Joachim Vogel, on August 17th by the Rialto Bridge, after a vaporetto waterbus collided with the gondola carrying the professor and his family.

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According to Corriere della Sera, around 1600 boats – including 700 taxis and 200 gondolas – pass under the Rialto Bridge in ten hours.

Five people - two gondoliers and three vaporetti pilots - were placed under investigation over the crash. 

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