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The bus service on Crete is known as KTEL and is comprised of a consortium of companies. It is the only form of public transport on the island, and provides extremely comprehensive coverage at very reasonable prices. The vehicles are relatively modern and a few have air conditioning, and they seem to be maintained in generally good mechanical condition. Atypically for Crete the drivers are very competent. Their safety record is very good, and bus travel is arguably the safest form of transport within Crete.
Buses run backward and forward along the national road every hour or so, and these and buses on the tourist routes to the Samaria gorge and Festos for example tend to be the more modern vehicles.
The older vehicles are used primarily by locals on once daily routes from the small villages to the provincial capitals. These set off for the city in the early morning and return to the village around lunch time, rendering them of little use to tourists. Limited though some services are, they can be a good method of accessing walks, where you end up at a different location to where you started, making a car a little impractical. Most good walking books will give details of bus services that serve their walks. You would be well advised though to get up to the minute timetable information.
Timetables and fares are available from bus stations and tourist offices, and on the web at