Double-deckers seek routes

Transport authorities have reacted to the extremely low number of people using the public sightseeing bus in central Athens (No 400) by scrapping the route but they will soon have another problem to deal with: what to do with four double-decker buses that were ordered last year for precisely that purpose. Kathimerini has learned that the officials in charge of the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) and the ETHEL blue bus company ordered the new vehicles in February 2009 for a total of 1.7 million euros. The buses, which have not yet been delivered, were ordered to be used to show paying tourists the sights of central Athens. A private firm already runs sightseeing tours in the city center using double-decker buses. However, the number of people using the 400 route, which was serviced by a normal city bus, did not suggest that there was any great interest in this service. In the first two months of this year, there was an average of 13 people a day paying the 5-euro fee to ride around downtown Athens. Last December, this figure was even lower, at just seven people a day, and even at the peak of summer last July it only reached 101 people a day. Now, the management of ETHEL and OASA, appointed by the current government, have to find a use for these vehicles. Given the low number of tourists interested in the service, they are looking at the possibility of using the double-deckers on regular routes in Athens where there is great demand for public transport. However, given the size and height of the new vehicles, they will have to be used on routes that do not involve driving down narrow streets or roads that have low bridges or other obstructions.