Bus drivers taking on dodgers

A bus driver is under investigation after a father complained yesterday that his 14-year-old daughter was kept for two hours on a blue bus in Anthoussa, northeastern Athens, after being caught with a ticket that had not been validated. The driver allegedly refused to allow the schoolgirl to get off the 301 bus, operated by the ETHEL bus firm, because she did not have enough money to pay the 15-euro penalty (60 times the 25-cent fare). The allegations have been denied by the driver, who claims the girl did not spend more than 20 minutes on the bus and was allowed to disembark at the stop she wanted. However, the allegations have highlighted staff shortages at the company, which does not employ any full-time ticket inspectors. Instead, drivers are encouraged to act as ticket inspectors once they have finished their normal shifts. ETHEL gives the drivers 5 percent of the penalties they collect from passengers as a bonus, sources said. Some 700 drivers are thought to have signed on to the scheme.