When is 90 minutes not 90 minutes?

When is 90 minutes not 90 minutes? When it’s written on a bus ticket, it seems. Ian and I tried to travel to Amalfi from Sorrento, a journey that takes exactly 90 minutes. However the man at the newsagents told us that we had to buy a 24 hour ticket. Obviously, we asked why we couldn’t buy a 90 minute ticket. If we’d been told, “The journey actually takes 95 minutes, so if anybody checked at the end of your journey you’d have to pay a fine,” or “The journey should take 90 minutes, but if you hit a lot of traffic a 90 minute ticket would expire before the end of your journey,” we would have understood. What he actually told us was, “Only Italian people are allowed to buy 90 minute tickets; tourists have to buy a day pass.” That really didn’t sound right, so we thanked him politely and said we would buy our tickets elsewhere.

The lady at the ticket office also said we would have to buy a 24 hour ticket, because “It is not 90 minutes to Amalfi; it is 1 ½ hours.” Ian and I exchanged one of those “Do you want to say something or shall I” looks, and then Ian timidly said, “Um 1 ½ hours is 90 minutes.” If she had said, “A 90 minute ticket lasts for 90 minutes, but only within certain boundaries, and Amalfi is outside those boundaries,” we would have understood. What she actually told us was, “A 90 minute ticket has nothing to do with time.”

Ian and I exchanged another one of those looks, but before we had chance to ask anything else, she smiled sadly and said, “I’m really sorry. I don’t name these tickets, I just have to sell them.”

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