In order to update the forum software, this afternoon from 13.00 some members may find that for short periods the forum is unavailable. Please ensure that you have made any posts before this time as any unsent messages may be lost.

Bus Deregulation - Winners & Losers

Discussion in 'Other Public Transport' started by Mutant Lemming, 28 Oct 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Mutant Lemming

    Mutant Lemming Established Member

    Messages:
    2,868
    Joined:
    8 Aug 2011
    Location:
    London
    After the '25 years on' thread I was wondering which places have gained and which have lost most since.

    An obvious 'winner' that springs to mind is Oxford with much improved services running more frequently and later in to the evening than in Oxfors/South Midland days.

    A short run across to Northampton finds a 'loser' with many areas of the town having no bus services after 7 or 8pm and nothing on Sundays.
     
  2. Registered users do not see these banners - join or log in today!

    Rail Forums

     
  3. shinkansen1966

    shinkansen1966 Established Member

    Messages:
    1,134
    Joined:
    2 Jun 2009
    Location:
    North London
    Winners: companies who used the 1985 law to set up or their expand bus operations
    Losers: to some extent local council taxpayers and the travelling public
     
  4. MCR247

    MCR247 Established Member

    Messages:
    9,067
    Joined:
    7 Nov 2008
    I'd say Nottingham was a winner, but i'm tired of banging on about it now :lol:
     
  5. Mutant Lemming

    Mutant Lemming Established Member

    Messages:
    2,868
    Joined:
    8 Aug 2011
    Location:
    London
    .....and - it has one of only a handful of the remaining municipal operators.
     
  6. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

    Messages:
    14,887
    Joined:
    16 Dec 2008
    Location:
    Sheffield
    Is there much competition in Northampton?

    I know that both Stagecoach and First have a reasonable level of operation, but don't know whether they are really competing with each other, or tend to stick to "established" territories...

    One suggestion I'd make for a "loser" would be some areas outside Glasgow which lost their "big" operator and had years of "breadvan" competition between local "bandits" - Monklands being an example. So the standard of buses was pretty low for quite a long time, little investment etc.
     
  7. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

    Messages:
    9,539
    Joined:
    26 Nov 2009
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    The question is whether it would be better or worse without deregulation.

    It's arguable that the competition from operators such as Sheffield Nottingham Omnibuses, Premiere and Yourbus keeps operators on their toes. But also arguable they waste mony on short-term bus wars and provide a worse or more expensive service in the long term.

    Nottingham still has a good high-frequency network with good quality buses (and a very good late/night network).

    However glancing at timetables from the early nineties it's clear that various routes have disapppeared or declined with fewer miles run in total (notabaly all the cross-city links have gone). In common with many successful areas routes along many main corridors have improved but with some less frequent services disappearing or being severely cut back. Typical of this is the indigo (formerly the 1, 3, 10, 310, 506, R5, R5b, R5c) which now runs 9 times an hour. Great service and you know they all go the same route (until they diverge at Long Eaton) - but if you used to live on one of the variations you may have further to go to get anything.
     
  8. martinsh

    martinsh Established Member

    Messages:
    1,491
    Joined:
    27 Jan 2011
    Location:
    Mother Jones Siding
    Well my local route in Crewe has changed from 2 per hour pre dereg to 4 per hour now (but was as much as 7 per hour at one stage), the other route I use most frequently (to Nantwich) has changed from 3 per hour to 4 per hour. A lot of other areas of town have a worse service though, so I guess about even on balance.
     
  9. rail-britain

    rail-britain Established Member

    Messages:
    4,105
    Joined:
    12 Aug 2007
    When I worked for Stagecoach, certain persons from Perth had an interest in GRT (but due to being a private Limited company at the time were not listed)
    There was a gentlemans agreement at the time to ensure they were competing each other as far as both the Transport Commissioner and Competition Commission (as it was then) were concerned
    This resulted in a major change in services between the two operators shortly after Stagecoach aquired Nothern Scottish (Northern SOB), the press at the time had a field day
    This all came to an end (well reduced) when GRT and Badgerline merged to form First
    If you look at the areas where the two companies still operate as competitors you will see these previous agreements are still in effect

    Northampton :
    First operate the urban services
    Stagecoach operate the inter-urban and rural services

    Aberdeen (where I worked) :
    First operate the urban services (FB)
    Stagecoach operate the inter-urban and rural services (SB)

    In Aberdeen some services are shared and duplicated, making it look like competition
    These include :
    SB 59 Balnagask (protracted from original Northern SOB service 55/59), competing with FB
    FB 27 Aberdeen Airport, competing with SB

    Glasgow :
    I don't remember the breadvans operating in Monklands
    What I do remember are the Magicbus routemasters, which were then replaced by Darts (ironically these ended up at Kelvin Scottish, but were promptly disposed of) and Volvo Alexanders (a few months old and second hand from Northern) were retained and are still with First Glasgow
    When Stagecoach relaunched its Glasgow operation in the 1990s this included a number of express services along the M77 to Pollok, competing with First
    Neither group of services survived, yet the services did seem busy, although incredibly frequest with Stagecoach using midibuses and First using anything available!
    The competition seems to have moved to the M80 and seems as vibrant now as it was 10 years ago, even now I still see Citylink (Stagecoach) or megabus livery coaches on these local services which just don't compare to what First offer

    Sadly commercial decisions come first
    Low passenger numbers often result in early morning and late evening services being cut, reduced in capacity, or withdrawn
    A competitor comes along to fill the gap, but we all know where that ends up!
     
    Last edited: 28 Oct 2011
  10. ReverendFozz

    ReverendFozz Member

    Messages:
    484
    Joined:
    26 Feb 2011
    Location:
    Murton, Co. Durham
    Where I live in Co. Durham, we are worse off, so much has changed since deregulation, in the late 80's we had all day services to Sunderland, Peterlee, Durham and a limited daily service to Newcastle, in 1985/86 Go Ahead Group was formed with Go Ahead Northern(formerly Northern General Transport, now Go North East), I cannot remember the exact level of service, but in 1990-91 I think it was 3ph or 4ph to Sunderland, 1ph to Durham and Peterlee and 4 or 5 to Newcastle, Northern went on strike for a while in 1991 and duplicate services were introduced on the routes Bleanch Coaches ran to Durham, Michael Franks Coaches to Sunderland and possibly Peterlee and OK Travel went to Newcastle. Northern went back to work a while later and squeezed these independent operators off the road Bleanch going quick, Michael Franks hung out for the rest of the decade and Go Ahead took over OK Travel, since 1997 the routes have been messed about so much, we used to have the 149 Seaham-Murton-Seaham Circular which was scrapped, Busways ran a Murton Estates Circular no.155 gone, Go Ahead introduced a Durham-Sunderland 254 to run alongside the Durham-Seaham 154, which ulimately got changed to run Murton-Sunderland and later changed numbers to the 151, when Go Ahead acquired Ok they took over running the X93 Newcastle service which went within 3 years, though they tried to revive as 1 in each direction commuter service a few years ago which failed within 6 months.

    Since 2005 our routes have been messed about with so much

    The pre 2005/6 routes in Murton were

    151-152 Sunderland-Murton/Peterlee
    153 Sunderland-Easington Lane
    154 Seaham-Durham

    When GNE went with route branding the 151-152 became the Drifter 61/62 Sunderland-Murton/Peterlee(every 12 minutes Sunderland-Murton,1 bus ph extending to Peterlee), the 154 became the 65(1ph each way all day), on 2008/09 the 62 was rebranded and numbered 162, changing to 202 6 months later, we have lost our evening and sunday 65 and 202 services, only buses through the village on a PM and sunday only goto Sunderland. From what I remember we are lot more cut off now than the early 90's

    As far as Sunderland goes GNE and Stagecoach are dominant, they mostly stick to the status quo but do compete on some routes
     
  11. Schnellzug

    Schnellzug Established Member

    Messages:
    2,926
    Joined:
    22 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Evercreech Junction
    well, i can only really compare with what they were like before the dreaded Megagroups took over, since I have no recollection of what they were like during the glorious years of NBC (apart of course from NBC's luxurious vehicle specifications), but i do have to say that on the whole and by and large, the services in the areas that I frequent reasonably regularly do seem on the whole to be superior to how they were before St*g*c**ch, F*rst, and G*-*h**d took over; this is not to say neccesarily that it they improved as a result of deregularisation, but they're probably better now than they were in the early part of the 90's , shall we say. Look as an example at Harry Blundred's Minibus obsession; since Stagecoach took over in Devon one of the first things they did was reinstate proper buses on longer routes, and then in Exeter brought in, progressively, bigger minibuses to supersede the Breadvans, then Volvo B6s and Darts, Solos, and now those whatever they're called, the new single deck things. While even Worstgroup do, i would say, run more frequent services on nearly all routes than in the days of Badgerline and (certainly) than in the days of Southern National.
    Of course, all this refers to the mainstream commercial services; but I really don't think it's fair to blame Fat Cat megagroups for "only being interested in profit"; i really don't think that Councils should just expect the Government to provide money for everything and then make kneejerk cuts and try to blame the Fat Cat Bus Bosses when they do. I think that's underhand.
     
  12. flymo

    flymo Established Member

    Messages:
    1,415
    Joined:
    22 May 2007
    Location:
    Geordie in exile.
    Just FYI, the services in Murton immediately prior to deregulation in 1986 were:-

    X93 - 4 services to/from Newcastle per day Mon-Sat (first one 0920 ex Murton)
    151 - Sunderland - Thornley via Murton hourly daily
    152 - Sunderland - Peterlee via Murton hourly daily
    154 - Durham - Seaham Harbour via Murton hourly daily
    535 - South Shields - Murton vis Sunderland hourly daytime Mon-Sat

    Quite similar to the levels you recall from 1991.

    Of course those above only show services into /out of Tyne & wear, there may have been more local services too.

    Hope this is of interest.
     
  13. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

    Messages:
    14,887
    Joined:
    16 Dec 2008
    Location:
    Sheffield
    If you think that Stagecoach and First have any kind of arrangement not to compete with each other (other than a token amount of overlap to give the impression of competition) then thats news to us in Sheffield (where they've had around five years of heavy competition).

    See also Fife First etc.
     
  14. rail-britain

    rail-britain Established Member

    Messages:
    4,105
    Joined:
    12 Aug 2007
    Refer to my original comments, this was back before GRT became First

    Scratch the surface in Sheffield and it is hardly aggresive competition
    The situation in Sheffield is very stable, as is the current competition on the M80

    What is going on there then?
    I pass through Fife regularly, only seems to be Stagecoach Fife
     
  15. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

    Messages:
    14,887
    Joined:
    16 Dec 2008
    Location:
    Sheffield
    I was meaning the ten minute First 56 to Ballingray, maybe ten/fifteen years ago, when Stagecoach got too aggressive in Glasgow (since withdrawn, of course).

    Hardly aggressive competition in Sheffield though? Not sure how much more you can expect two companies to compete (within the law) - £5 weekly tickets, new "turn up and go" services introduced, commercial competition even on evenings/ Sundays...

    Not sure how long it'll last, as the PTE try to calm things down, but it's been one of the few examples of genuine competition (whilst most cities have fairly mature markets with few skirmishes)
     
  16. ReverendFozz

    ReverendFozz Member

    Messages:
    484
    Joined:
    26 Feb 2011
    Location:
    Murton, Co. Durham
    Thanks for that Flymo, I was 3-4 yrs old when deregulation came about, so I cannot remember much prior to 1991, the 151 I remember was Sunderland-Murton that came in the late 90's, there probably was a lot of local services as Notrthern General/Go Ahead Northern had a depot in Murton till the late 80's, after deregulation the 535 went to South Shields from South Hetton/Easington Lane/Hetton/ Low Moorsley/Houghton along with the 536
     
  17. Ze Random One

    Ze Random One Member

    Messages:
    195
    Joined:
    30 Apr 2011
    I think, in general, it is fair to say that the following groups of routes have been the main winners with deregulation, in the long term:
    - Highly profitable, main corridor routes. Many companies now run simple to understand, high frequency routes along these corridors, with perhaps one or two variations of final destination.
    - Inter-urban routes, often following rail lines, where significant intermediate traffic is also generated (where the buses pass through towns which are poorly served by the train, either in terms of service frequency, or lack of/distance from station)
    - Inter-urban routes where the bus is significantly faster or more convenient than the train (e.g., there is no direct rail route, or where one of the cities has a station far from the urban centre)
    - Routes where a fixed link (tram, train, ...) has encouraged people to ditch their car entirely ("well, the tram will always be here if the bus isn't"), but the bus service can undercut the fixed link due to lower overheads and/or the bus can get into estates where the fixed link would have difficulty ("but the bus is cheaper/easier for me").

    In all of these cases, they are routes which are very profitable, due to volume of passengers, and ability to charge a fare that is in line with, or just undercuts any competing rail service, without any associated infrastructure overheads.

    In addition, the clockfacing of timetables I can see as a big gain, because people can remember them, which improves the profitability of the service ("I know it always leaves at 22 minutes past, so I can be more confident about using it")

    The big losers have been:
    - Estates or villages which aren't profitable to serve (so, where a service could go to an estate, but that would mean hiring an extra driver+bus to maintain clockface frequency).
    - Cities where the big four have muscled everyone else out (or successfully took over the sole municipal operator), where all the fares for the city are at the mercy of a single group of shareholders.
    - Individual routes where a number of operators run mid-low frequency routes along the same corridors, particularly outside of PTE areas, and those without concessionary passes have to wait for the bus of their "chosen" company, while the competition steams past.
    - Routes where the "socially necessary" evening or sunday service is run by a competitor to the daytime service, or the contract has had to forbid acceptance of single-company passes or returns, to maximise revenue.
    - Route networks where the operator is too stupid to understand the network benefits of unprofitable routes, or fails to co-ordinate timetables in such a way as to take best advantage of network effects.
    - Routes where the company concerned is solely interested in this quarter's bottom line. It may take two or three years for a service improvement to truly see the effect in the bottom line, particularly where car ownership is high. However the effect of a service reduction often appears much quicker, particularly for discretionary journeys.
    - Any other route where cross-subsidy is necessary to keep it running.
    - Late evening / overnight / early morning and Sunday services. With the latter, we can't really compare pre-deregulation services with today, due to Sunday trading, although it is worth noting that London now has Sunday services generally at 50% or better of the Mo-Fr daytime frequency, whereas many other English cities get service levels of 33% or below on a Sunday (every 10 mins -> every 30 or 60)
     
  18. ivanhoe

    ivanhoe Member

    Messages:
    785
    Joined:
    15 Jul 2009
    What we don't know is whether the system prior to D Reg would have survived in it's then format. I would have predicted big cuts in NBC services , we may have seen smaller tram networks as PTE's would have put more resource into maintaining their declining bus networks.

    Fact is that bus ridership has been declining since 1960's (London excepted) and how would have a regulated Market dealt with that?
     
  19. Ze Random One

    Ze Random One Member

    Messages:
    195
    Joined:
    30 Apr 2011
    Yes it has declined substantially. But would it have been better managed by integrating transport network decisions with social and planning decisions rather than letting the market decide? Could the 5%+ that the big operators manage to cream off have been put to better use? Do UK citizens benefit (as much) from our big bus companies owning the coach networks of the USA, as they would do from effective and slightly cheaper UK public transport?

    Northern Ireland seem to manage with a reasonably capable public transport network, noting that their cities are a lot smaller and less dense than ours (Belfast has the same population density as Milton Keynes). I suspect we'd have something like that, but with more buses in the cities (due to the higher population and better density).
     
  20. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

    Messages:
    15,363
    Joined:
    9 Aug 2009
    Location:
    Llanelli
    In my opinion, yes. but we will never know.

    Again, yes!

    Perhaps, depending on the definition of benefit!
     
  21. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

    Messages:
    5,905
    Joined:
    22 Aug 2008
    Would things be better now though if deregulation had not resulted in large groups dominating the market but lots of small independent companies running the buses?
     
  22. markydh

    markydh Member

    Messages:
    225
    Joined:
    30 Jan 2011
    Location:
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    No. That would make things even worse (and more expensive). Getting around a city would be a nightmare if you had to buy different tickets for 2 or 3 different bus companies. Once again, you must remember that London-esque universal ticketing arrangements are illegal outside of the capital. That's the crux of the issue. It doesn't matter who runs them or how expensive their fares are. It's the fact that it makes travelling around very inflexible.
     
    Last edited: 30 Oct 2011
  23. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

    Messages:
    18,121
    Joined:
    6 Aug 2009
    Location:
    Yorks
    Losers - anyone who turns up to the stop and the wrong companies bus turns up.
     
  24. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    16,538
    Joined:
    7 Aug 2005
    Location:
    0035
    No they are not. The Transport Act 2000 allows local authorities to set up ticketing schemes providing:
    There are plenty of examples of these schemes all over the country, from the nBus in the West Midlands (allowing bus travel on a multitude of operators, from big names to small independents), to the Kangaroo in Nottingham, plus Freedom Travelpass in the West of England, and many other tickets.
     
  25. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

    Messages:
    5,905
    Joined:
    22 Aug 2008
    How? By having lots of small competing companies it would help reduce the fares. Wasn't this the idea of deregulation, not to have large groups dominating areas?
     
  26. Ze Random One

    Ze Random One Member

    Messages:
    195
    Joined:
    30 Apr 2011
    Fundamentally, with a large number of small operators, you end up having a large amount of duplication of functions, or some very overworked and undermanaged employees, neither of which is helpful, and will either leave you with more expensive (per unit travel) companies, or lower standards of service.

    The reason that the big companies started to get bigger was that they could already undercut the small operators, because their overheads per unit bus travel were lower. Then as they got bigger, they became able to afford more predatory practices. But that means they could afford it -- they had slack in their budgets to be able to play games - imagine how profitable they could have been if they didn't.

    If you think about it, take a company that grows by 70%:
    Small company: Needs 1 fitter.
    Growing small company: Needs 1.7 fitters
    That's too much work for overtime, but two would be under-utilised, so your margin takes a hit.
    Large company: Needs 100 fitters.
    Growing large company (70% growth again): Needs 170 fitters.
    So each fitter is still used 100%.

    The same applies for other overheads.
     
  27. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

    Messages:
    5,905
    Joined:
    22 Aug 2008
    But once you only have one company in an area they are in a monopoly position and without competition they can increase the fares and anyone without other forms of transport will have no choice but to pay. One benefit of deregulation was to promote competition but by having a handful of large groups dominating you lose this benefit.
     
  28. markydh

    markydh Member

    Messages:
    225
    Joined:
    30 Jan 2011
    Location:
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    Sorry, but it is illegal. NEXUS (the operating arm of Tyne & Wear ITA) have been continually very clear that they are legally prevented from harmonising fares. There's a difference between a multi-operator ticket (round here it is called a Tyne & Wear Day Rover, allowing all day travel on most public transport within Tyne & Wear) and a London style universal ticketing system where a single fare from A to B costs the same no matter which company runs the service. It is the latter which is explicitly prohibited outside of London. The only services the likes of NEXUS are legally allowed to set fares are those in which they tender out.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Yes, that was the idea. But the world simply doesn't work like that. There isn't a single industry that has seen privatising of one form or another that hasn't ended up with a few extremely large companies providing little in the way of real competition. Most small independent firms rely on local government tenders to survive as they simply cannot compete with the larger companies commercially. They typically undercut larger firms in tender processes by using smaller, cheaper vehicles, paying drivers less, etc. But they simply don't have the financial clout to take on the big boys in a fully commercial setting. Competition is great when it first starts. You get a brief period where fares might get a bit lower. But history is completely littered with examples where the bubble bursts very quickly. Deregulation was, in theory, a reasonable proposition. Unfortunately, like all ideas, it had major flaws and we are seeing the fallout from that today.
     
  29. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

    Messages:
    9,419
    Joined:
    14 Jul 2011
    But if this company was owned by the local council, it could use any profits recieved to supress council tax rises or whatever, which is likely a vote winner in various elections. As most likely happens with Nottingham City Transport.
     
  30. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

    Messages:
    15,363
    Joined:
    9 Aug 2009
    Location:
    Llanelli
    Spot on mate, spot on!
     
  31. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    16,538
    Joined:
    7 Aug 2005
    Location:
    0035
    Apologies; but you didn't mention ''harmonising fares'' in your original post. Aside from a common single fare of £1.30, I have no idea what ''London-esque universal ticketing arrangements'' means other than a multi-use ticket valid on any bus operator. In London, once you leave a bus then your single fare is no longer of any use to you, therefore the only unique thing about the arrangement in London is that a day ticket is valid on any operator, and these tickets do exist elsewhere.
    They can also set up a quality contract, allowing control over fares, competition, timetables, etc. on a certain route.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page