NEWS

Missing parts stop blue buses

Poor planning at the Athens Public Bus Company (ETHEL) has resulted in some 15 percent of its fleet being pulled off the road due to a lack of availability of spare parts, according to its workers. Employees said that between 350 and 400 blue buses were not operating out of a total fleet of 2,000 vehicles, as they are in need of repairs. Annual orders have not been completed since 2005, forcing the company to resort to last-minute spare-part purchases that push costs significantly higher. ETHEL is not required by law to follow a formal tender process if the procurement order is less than 45,000 euros. This procedure results in much higher prices being paid for spare parts which are also of poorer quality and need to be replaced more often, workers maintain. Apostolos Raftopoulos, head of Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) technicians, said that a large number of spare parts being used are imported from China and Turkey and do not have the necessary certification.