Blue buses forced to drop gear

The Athens public bus company (ETHEL) shifted to its slower summer program a few weeks earlier this year after a large number of its buses were pulled off the road due to technical problems. Sources said that between 25 and 30 percent of ETHEL buses have been withdrawn from circulation mostly due to problems with air-conditioning systems. Of the 146 buses at the bus depot in Votanikos, central Athens, 80 vehicles have a problem with the air conditioning, the source said. The ETHEL summer timetable, which normally runs from the start of July to the end of August, involves a reduction in the frequency of bus routes by about 25 percent. Workers say that they cannot fix the buses at a faster rate as they do not have the necessary parts. New procedures to order spare parts have been adopted by the company in a move that has increased delays and costs since they can no longer be ordered in large quantities, employees added.

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