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A visit to a Greek bus station tells you all

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 4 July 2012

Greek buses are privately owned (KTEL) and so are far more efficient than the state owned industries such as the ports and railways that this country will be forced to privatize in order to get more bailouts. But a visit to a bus station today demonstrated just why the medicine the EU wishes to apply (and which ideologically I would apply) will be so unpalatable.

To travel on a bus you need a ticket. With one bus holding, an average of 30 people, leaving every 30 minutes that is about 45 tickets an hour that have to be sold ( I assume a quarter of folks by returns). Buying a ticket takes a couple of minutes and so you really do not need more than 2 people selling tickets. There were of course three on duty at all times. Having bought your ticket you need to show it to a ticket inspector. There were two of them per bus. And a third chap driving the bus.

Now in a ruthlessly efficient world you would install ticket machines and have 1 person on duty selling tickets to those too thick to use a machine. The bus driver would inspect tickets as folks got on board. Suddenly 6 staff becomes 2. At the very least the two ticket collectors should be fired and the driver clip tickets.
Remember that KTEL is a privately owned, relatively efficient company.

The state owned trains and ports businesses make KTEL look lean, sleek and efficient. So when/if these loss making enterprises are privatized there will be mass layoffs. In a country with unemployment of 23% and rising daily that will not be fun. One the one hand I cannot see why the rest of the EU should subsidize this nonsense but on the other hand I am conscious that Greece is a young and fragile democracy with more than its fair share of head bangers lurking in the wings/running the military. You can push folks only so far…

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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