Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How Else Would KTEL Run a Bus System

2012 09 04
Galaxidi, Corinth, Greece

The title to this post will have more relevance to those of a sufficient age to remember the old Ktel TV ads.  Ktel was a Canadian marketer of cheesy compilations of out of date pop chart songs and other plastic junk.  They were famous for their late night TV ads, precursor by a few decades to the modern infomercial.  

KTEL went broke.

Apparently the Greek subsidiary however is still alive and well.  Here KTEL run the entire country's bus system.  If you want to take a bus from any town in Greece to any other town it will be on a KTEL bus.

We wanted to take a KTEL bus from Galaxidi to Delphi.  This should have been easy.  Go online, find the schedule, follow the schedule.  Not in Greece my friends.

KTEL does not make its schedules available to the public.  You cannot get a schedule, not online, not on paper.  Say what?  A bus system that won't tell you when its buses are running or where they are going?  That just does not sound right.

Well, here is how it goes in Greece.  Until a few years ago KTEL had all their schedules online.  The schedules are complicated and often bus changes and even changes of bus stations are required.  

It is not uncommon here for a traveller approaching a bus exchange point to be dropped off at, say the downtown bus station, and then have to somehow get to the bus station on the outskirts of town to catch the next bus on his planned journey.  

An enterprising Greek took all the schedule information that was online on the KTEL site and offered a "fee for service" internet site where he would put together your bus trip for you, arranging all the transfers and giving detailed instructions.  For this the site charged a modest fee, I hear about €0.50.

KTEL were outraged that this was happening.  You would have though KTEL would have said "Hey, that is a good idea.  Why don't we do it for free.  If it is easier to ride the bus more people will use our service".

You only think this because you do not understand the Mediterranean mind.  Such a course of action, automatic to a North American, would involve customer service.  "Customer service" is a phrase that does not translate into Portuguese, Spanish or Greek. 

Instead, to prevent what KTEL viewed as unwarranted profiteering they removed all their schedules from the internet and destroyed all the paper schedules.  KTEL now offers their own "fee for service" phone number which you call and for €0.68 they tell you what their schedule is for the trip you wish to take.  This is not considered unwarranted profiteering.

So to take the bus in Greece you first have to pay the bus company to find out if and when the bus runs and how to organize the trip.

Stuck for transport I did exactly this.  I called KTEL.  Or I would have except my cell phone won't make outgoing calls even though I have €10 credit. 

Welcome to the Med.

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