Czech capital turns up nose at perfumed public transport

Prague’s transport authority has rejected perfuming its buses to mask body odor despite the enthusiastic reponse to a pilot project

Travel by bus is the pits. Prague passengers would welcome the scent of cinnamon and lemon, but the DPP says it’s too costly. | na serveru Lidovky.cz | aktuální zprávy Travel by bus is the pits. Prague passengers would welcome the scent of cinnamon and lemon, but the DPP says it’s too costly. | foto: Albert K. MuhlemanČeská pozice
Travel by bus is the pits. Prague passengers would welcome the scent of cinnamon and lemon, but the DPP says it’s too costly.

Prague’s public transport authority has dropped plans to pump perfume through its fleet of buses in a bid to improve conditions for the olfactory assaulted nostrils of its passengers.

The municipally owned transport company tested its cinnamon and lemon perfume on five buses serving one of its longer routes — from the city’s southern high rise suburbs to Prague’s main western bus terminal at Smíchov — between the start of February and March.

“The idea was to make travelling by bus more pleasant,” Dopravni Podnik hlavniho města Prahy (DPP) said, adding that the natural perfumes, and not chemicals, were being used in the experiment so they would not have any harmful effects.

The company was too polite to say that the clear aim of the perfume was to mask the sometimes powerful pong from some of its passengers.

The company was too polite to say that the clear aim of the perfume was to mask the sometimes powerful pong from some of its passengers.

In spite of rave reviews of the idea from passengers — more than 60 percent of the 1,668 who responded to a survey were overwhelmingly in favor with none against — DPP) says it will not prolong the perfume beyond the pilot test.

DPP says that the estimate Kč 31 million annual cost of pumping perfume through the air conditioning system of all its 1,100 buses is too expensive as it seeks to cut costs and find cash for other projects.

“The transport company will not now be going ahead with this project,” head DPP spokeswoman Ilona Vysoudilová said in a statement.

Summer stinks

Going into the hot, sometimes sweltry, Prague summer that news will not be very welcome for passengers sometimes getting too close to a neighbors sweaty armpit or other odors. In the winter, the city’s public transport system is used as a refuge for the capital’s homeless and down and outs.

‘Riding public transport is like a punishment.’

Czech media have frequently remarked that foreigners complain after using public transport that Czechs smell. “Why do Czechs smell so much?” was the front page headline of the free Prague newspaper Metro in July 2010. Its story continued on page three with the subhead “Foreigners notice the stink.”

“These days riding public transport is like a punishment,” Metro quoted one Prague passenger as saying.

Metro’s story, reinforced by the personal olfactory experiences of several foreigners, was based on research by multinational company Unilever that Czechs only buy deodorant or antiperspirant twice a year. This compared with 4.5 purchases in Germany and six in Britain. The survey added that 82 percent of women but only 52 percent of men said they used a deodorant or antiperspirant daily.

At the top end of the Czech newspaper market, the business daily Hospodářské noviny put the point a bit differently. “There are two things about Czechs upon which foreigners agree: the women and girls are beautiful and the men are awful — they don’t look after themselves and they smell,” it reported.

But Czechs can take some consolation from the fact that transport authorities in many other cities worldwide are not ashamed of using a bit of perfume to mask their passengers’ personal odor. The Paris metro has long been using a perfume called Madeleine with around 1.5 tons pumped down the passages of the French capital a year.

But when Berlin’s transport bosses looked at a perfume for their S-Bahn suburban train system in 2008, they reportedly rejected the French perfume as not strong enough to overcome the smells of their local inhabitants.

Počet příspěvků: 2, poslední 24.7.2011 02:18 Zobrazuji posledních 2 příspěvků.