Welsh government to reverse bus deregulation

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by sefyllian, 16 Jul 2019.

  1. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

    Messages:
    541
    Joined:
    22 Feb 2014
    You are right, but affluent people are more forced to use them in London, due to traffic and parking issues. Similarly in Oxford. But these conditions only apply in a mere handful of places outside London. I would suggest that the improvements first need to be aimed at catering better for the captive market and those who are near the borderline, and gradually widen the scope out, otherwise we are going to throw away alot of money.
     
  2. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

    Messages:
    40,546
    Joined:
    20 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Up and down the south WCML (mostly)
    And to be fair the commercial bus companies are at least trying - things many older people see as gimmicks like USB / wireless charging, Wifi and apps/mobile payment/contactless payment are big selling points to that demographic. The latter particularly - in London many younger people simply do not carry cash[1] and will simply not do business with any organisation that demands it.

    Pre contactless payment if I didn't have change for the bus I simply wouldn't use the bus - it's not worth the effort going to the shop to buy something to get change, it's easier just to call a taxi (using an app of course and paying by card[2]), drive, cycle or walk.

    [1] I think as an aside this may have been one of the drivers behind removal of station toilet fees, though I suppose they could have accepted contactless - they do in Germany.

    [2] Most of my bus journeys are period returns to the station these days - and the bus company apps invaraibly don't sell singles on their own.
     
  3. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

    Messages:
    541
    Joined:
    22 Feb 2014
    Quite - affluent people had abandoned buses a good 15 years before Margaret came on the scene.
     
  4. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

    Messages:
    8,257
    Joined:
    29 Oct 2009
    But the attitude to railways, both by government and by the average citizen, has significantly improved in the last 20 years and the government continues to pour billions into the expansion of the railways, despite the fare paying passenger paying an increasing share of the cost. Trains are now considered an option for many people who had previously travelled exclusively by car.
     
  5. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

    Messages:
    541
    Joined:
    22 Feb 2014
    You re right, but I see no flicker of evidence that this extends to buses yet. None.
     
  6. carlberry

    carlberry Established Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Joined:
    19 Dec 2014
    I would say it's happened in quite a few areas where bus companies have improved the product, often in cooperation with local authorities. Brighton and Nottingham being prime examples. It needs effort and marketing.
     
  7. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

    Messages:
    40,546
    Joined:
    20 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Up and down the south WCML (mostly)
    There's a fair bit of individual-route quality marketing, either on the Stagecoach Gold/Arriva Sapphire model or the Alex Hornby+Best Impressions route branding model (as originated at Trent and copied at his future conquests) - but what you rarely get is network marketing on a more macro level - and that does mean buses lose out on journeys that aren't just to the nearest city centre.
     
  8. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

    Messages:
    8,257
    Joined:
    29 Oct 2009
    B&H is one of the few operators who allow you to change buses on single journeys without paying extra, although you need to use the mobile app to get that facility.
     
  9. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

    Messages:
    11,473
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2013
    Location:
    Somerset with international travel (e.g. across th
  10. 175mph

    175mph Member

    Messages:
    406
    Joined:
    25 Jan 2016
    I'd say that it's the same in many parts of Hull too, especially the city center.
     
  11. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

    Messages:
    11,473
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2013
    Location:
    Somerset with international travel (e.g. across th
    One of the top 10 places for bus travel....but why?
     
  12. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

    Messages:
    15,504
    Joined:
    21 Apr 2013
    Location:
    Nottingham
    I don't think anyone is advocating a straightforward return to the pre-deregulation position. My own bus use in that time was mostly in semi-rural Greater Manchester and more urban Tyne & Wear PTE areas where the service was actually pretty good, but I get the point that at the point of deregulation it was much less good in the more rural areas run by NBC. Bus use overall has been declining steadily since the 1950s regardless of the regulatory structure.

    But there are places where numbers have held up or even increased. London of course under franchising, but also others including Brighton, Nottingham (falls in recent years probably due to the tram, but still in top 5 outside London) and Reading. These seem to have in common a local authority that is pro-bus and implements priority measure, plus often a municipal operator or at least one that is more locally focused and a relative lack of on-road competition. While they have to have an arms-length relationship with the local authority, it is likely that these operators have more of a public service rather than a fully commercial ethos. This pays dividends in passenger numbers and perhaps even leaves these operators in a better position financially than the big groups driven mainly by short-term profits. Cardiff and Newport may be like this too, but I can't find any useage by local authority figures for Wales.

    In deeply rural areas few residents will want to rely on buses - with widespread car ownership there just aren't enough people left over to sustain a frequent and attractive service so the sort of rural services we apparently had in the 1950s are probably a lost cause. This level of car ownership also contributes to congestion that delays buses, particularly on the way into local towns and cities which might otherwise be attractive bus destinations. Here I think buses could sometimes act as feeders into trains to bypass this congestion, and in general provide a fairly basic but reliable service particularly for those without a car and for those visiting the area by public transport.

    It is the big metropolitan areas outside London where bus use has fallen most. Causes might be: increasing traffic congestion, adoption of light rail in some cities, service decline from previously above-average quality. But there are areas where urban density is surely high enough that buses can make a difference and I believe some sort of franchising system integrating with local light and heavy rail would be a big contributor to achieving this.

    https://assets.publishing.service.g...ual-bus-statistics-year-ending-march-2017.pdf
    Unfortunately I can't find breakdowns of bus use by local authority for Wales, but the overall bus useage trend is similar to England outside London.
     
  13. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

    Messages:
    11,473
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2013
    Location:
    Somerset with international travel (e.g. across th
    There's a lot in what you say that I agree with.

    Where bus use is highest and increasing, you do have engaged local authorities who actually value and recognise what a good bus network can bring in terms of reducing traffic congestion and improved air quality. In two instances (Reading and Nottingham), you do happen to have two local council owned firms and that does bring local focus and accountability. However, Brighton and Hull don't have that but what they do have are dedicated local authorities.

    The metropolitan areas have declined most since deregulation and you can't deny that the period 1986-1995 did have a major part with fare subsidies (overt and hidden) removed and the raft of on-street competition in places like Manchester and Sheffield. However, look at the West Midlands and Tyne and Wear and they haven't declined in any way the same amount. In Manchester, Metrolink is undoubtedly one reason but even there, we must recognise that the bus (regulated or not) must be given the advantages to compete with the private car. Wales isn't affected by the clear air legislative requirements to the same extent as other UK cities but my nearest city Bath (another high bus usage city) is. The councillors voted on two options for charging; class D which would have charged all higher emission vehicles, including cars, to drive in the city centre and class C, which excluded polluting cars from the fee. Can you guess which one they chose?

    Services in many rural areas are now at a level where they can never be self sustaining but the social impact on bus service withdrawals can't be underestimated.
     
  14. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

    Messages:
    15,504
    Joined:
    21 Apr 2013
    Location:
    Nottingham
    I also agree with a lot of this. However I'd say that comparing the West Midlands to Greater Manchester or South Yorkshire illustrates the benefits of having a dominant operator - I'm not much in touch with what happens in Tyne and Wear these days (but both join Nottingham, Reading and Brighton in the English top five for bus journeys per resident). So where deregulation works it arguably does so only because it has failed in its primary aim of encouraging competition.

    I think franchising has the scope to bringing the urban areas with the worst services up to the level of the best and probably also to take them all to a new level. Local authorities will be more committed to encouraging bus use if they have full control over services and can't be left in the situation where the operators refuse to use the facilities they provide. And the whole area of fare and timetable integration as well as the option of widespread bus subsidy are effectively closed off in a deregulated system.
     
  15. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

    Messages:
    40,546
    Joined:
    20 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Up and down the south WCML (mostly)
    Public transport is a funny one when it comes to competition. I think I would argue that it is a natural monopoly that works best with a single operator running the majority of services in a given town[1], and that by and large those operators don't take the mick on pricing and service levels, by and large operating as if they were purely a public service even if they in actual fact are not. So when you do get sporadic on-road competition the fares might end up knocked down, but that's only for a short period and generally does financial damage to both operators who engage in it.

    Route based franchising (or area based franchising) just achieves the same sort of thing, it's just that the coordination exists on a macro level.

    Where you have two operators that don't really overlap (like Manchester, where the North was traditionally Firstland and the South Stagecoachia) that isn't competition, that's just segmentation. A bit like the Tesco at East Didsbury (to use Manchester again) is not exactly in competition with the Asda at Trafford Park - they are serving different markets. Even a Tesco next to a Waitrose isn't really going to be *competing* very much, they more segment the market (which is why when you do get that it often results in growth of demand at that location and not one of them quickly dying off).

    [1] I think it's hard to deny, whatever you think of FirstGroup, that GWR works much better as one thing than having them and Thames Drains tiffing over the odd passenger from Oxford. OK, there's the Chiltern thing, but that is a bit different as it's, almost pre-Grouping style, competition on a totally different route.
     
  16. Simon75

    Simon75 Member

    Messages:
    71
    Joined:
    25 May 2016
    First Potteries main competition is D&G, but they are on friendly terms (D&G Crewe garage is used by by First for 3 buses). First withdraw/cut back routes and D&G generally replace them
     
  17. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

    Messages:
    5,278
    Joined:
    19 Aug 2008
    Location:
    South Wales
    I'd love to see where the monkeys coming from. Look at the bus cuts coming in soon in bridgend. Easyway who I work for are reducing and cutting many routes and scrapping others. Many of our routes are well used and serve isolated communities
     
  18. krus_aragon

    krus_aragon Established Member

    Messages:
    4,487
    Joined:
    10 Jun 2009
    Location:
    North Wales
    As auto-correct mistakes go, that's one of the better ones. I'm now picturing bus services operated by Wizard-of-Oz flying monkeys... :D

    (As for the money, unfortunately monkeys will work for peanuts. :/)
     
  19. Man of Kent

    Man of Kent Member

    Messages:
    102
    Joined:
    5 Jul 2018
    I don't know what the public authorities currently spend in total on buses in Wales, but figures for Northern Ireland have just been published https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.u...re/dfi-annual-report-and-accounts-2018-19.pdf.
    Worth noting that the population of NI is 1.88m, compared to 3.14m in Wales, so the latter is about 2/3rds bigger.

    Revenue support £35.4m
    Concessionary fares reimbursement £47.1m (for 14m journeys!) [some may be for rail]
    Capital grants for new vehicles, property and equipment £45.6m (£18.7m for buses)

    So in round numbers £125m. Potentially the Welsh Government would have to find over £200m each year to operate services on a similar basis to Northern Ireland. The NI report makes specific reference to the fact that cuts in revenue grants mean that the financial position of Translink is depleting its reserves and "could not sustain a deficit in 2020/21".
     
  20. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

    Messages:
    8,257
    Joined:
    29 Oct 2009
    Nothern Ireland transport is fully stated owned and operated whereas Wales plan to use private tendering.
     
  21. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

    Messages:
    11,473
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2013
    Location:
    Somerset with international travel (e.g. across th
    Yes but costs are what costs are, with the exception of margin.
     
  22. Belperpete

    Belperpete Member

    Messages:
    469
    Joined:
    17 Aug 2018
    Don't see your point. With fully state-owned, the profitable services subsidise the unprofitable. Where private operators keep the profits from the profitable services, then it costs more to support the unprofitable services.
     
  23. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

    Messages:
    11,473
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2013
    Location:
    Somerset with international travel (e.g. across th
    Sadly, experience shows that to be a fallacy.

    What actually happens is that by continually cross subsidising unsustainable services means you don’t invest in the profitable services and so they become less profitable. That’s what the period 1956-1986 taught us.

    Also, we’ve seen that cost savings are illusory. Moving to franchising sees operators get a lower margin but that saving is soon burnt through. Fuel and vehicle costs are what they are.
     
  24. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

    Messages:
    8,257
    Joined:
    29 Oct 2009
    Cross-subsidy still exists in London and almost everywhere outside Great Britain. Cross-subsidy is almost essential when you have integrated services.
     
  25. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

    Messages:
    40,546
    Joined:
    20 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Up and down the south WCML (mostly)
    It doesn't mean that at all. Is there a lack of investment in premium-paying TOCs (which is the same thing)? I don't see any evidence that there is.
     
  26. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Veteran Member

    Messages:
    11,473
    Joined:
    18 Feb 2013
    Location:
    Somerset with international travel (e.g. across th
    Which is why London's buses need a massive amount of additional subsidy. Outside of London, the lines are blurred where you have cross subsidy and central cost allocation. It is often the case that services or individual journeys will be retained when making sub-optimal returns as they soak up a chunk of fixed overhead (e.g. a garage facility, management structure) so by not operating said service, it merely transfers the burden onto the remaining services - something that First didn't fully understand it seems (e.g. Northampton).

    You really think so...no evidence at all???
     
  27. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

    Messages:
    8,257
    Joined:
    29 Oct 2009
    Only because the first Mayor of London chose to pour money into the bus network. Before that, London's buses ran roughly at break even. Franchising led to huge cost savings, meaning that the cost per passenger in the years following franchising fell dramatically, whereas outside London cost savings were cancelled out by huge patronage loss.
     
  28. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

    Messages:
    15,504
    Joined:
    21 Apr 2013
    Location:
    Nottingham
    London's buses could be deregulated and run without subsidy like everywhere else. We would end up with far fewer buses, higher fares and much more traffic congestion and/or less mobility damaging the city as a whole. As far as I can see the worst case for franchising is that the service and fares remain about what they are now. The income would be the same and the costs would be the same, but making all tickets interavailable ought to increase passenger numbers even if nothing else is done.

    Going beyond that it also allows the state to use buses, as they do in London, to contribute to health and decongestion aims rather than just being driven by profit. Supporting buses financially is probably one of the cheapest ways to achieve these outcomes.
     
  29. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

    Messages:
    40,546
    Joined:
    20 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Up and down the south WCML (mostly)
    Plenty of evidence for investment in new rolling stock etc throughout the network.

    It might be that they'd invest more without the premium, but I suspect what would actually happen would be that they would pocket more.
     
  30. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

    Messages:
    8,257
    Joined:
    29 Oct 2009
    When rail franchising started, local trains (less profitable) were generally in different franchises to long distance trains (more profitable). That was considered sub-optimal by the next round of franchising, and the franchise map was redrawn to have more integration between local and long distance trains, most notably in the cases of GWR and Greater Anglia (using current brand names).
     

Share This Page