One model fits all


Is the Athens Transport Organization (OASA) planning to give passengers a pension? If not, why does it want to know their AMKA social security numbers? And that’s not all. The wise men at OASA decided that anyone wanting to purchase an electronic ticket will need to present the following: an identification or AMKA number, their name, the maiden name of their mother, their date of birth, a photograph in electronic form, a telephone number, a cell phone and fax number, an address and an email. What does OASA need people’s cell numbers for? Will it be informing them of pricing changes?

Thankfully, the Data Protection Authority stepped in and ruled that the organization is demanding – and will be storing – far too much personal information, without having first explored “alternative technical solutions that would achieve the same goals and ensure the protection of users’ privacy.”

The wise men of OASA responded with a press release saying that passengers’ information will be used strictly for anonymous statistical studies. I still don’t understand. Will it be studying how many are with Cosmote and how many with Vodafone?

Unfortunately, the country’s biggest transport organization is entering the electronic age with all the slipshod amateurism that characterizes all of the new technologies/programs that the government has been forced to implement. No one thought ahead, no one studied what data OASA actually needs to issue electronic tickets. The same model that applies to the entire state sector was simply transferred to the modernization of public transport ticketing.

This makes sense when you consider that the people appointed to OASA’s helm know only this model and therefore applied it. The company’s board members were appointed as a matter of political expediency, not because they have any experience in running a modern business. The president of OASA ran for mayor of Glyfada in southern Athens with SYRIZA. The CEO is a former secretary of the Vari-Voula-Vouliagmeni municipal council. The head of OSY, which is the part of the OASA group responsible for buses and trolley buses, is a unionist, and the CEO a former Athens mayor. And at STASY, responsible for fixed-line transport, the president is a man who ran for the Athens municipal council when Gavriil Sakellaridis ran for mayor with SYRIZA.

What can we except then other than damages? In 2015, OASA’s turnover came to 201.5 million euros, compared with 247.6 million euros in 2014, and pre-tax losses came to 105.7 million euros, compared with 83.2 million euros – and all of these losses are paid for by taxpayers.