My bus this morning proved otherwise, however. At some point in its life, it had been done up to signify some anniversary of the company, and in amongst the posters going on about trolley-buses and such like was the almost throwaway comment about the 1980’s;
“Legislative controls were also reduced, thus allowing private bus operators to respond better to their customers.”
I believe the correct response in this situation is along these lines; do you want a piece of me, Mr Bus Company?
Just take my example; my morning bus is regularly up to 15 minutes late reaching my stop (always appreciated at a stop without a shelter), meaning that I arrive in the centre of Cardiff anything up to 30 minutes late. The bus itself will generally be old, loud and equipped with suspension from the 50’s; not the 1950’s, not the 1850’s, but the 50’s. I swear I’m developing vibration white buttock…
More generally, there are few areas of public policy where the contrast is starker. In London, where bus regulation was retained, passenger numbers have soared. Everywhere else, they have crashed and burned. In the few places where deregulation has led to any sort of competition, companies are more interested in sticking it to the enemy than anything so quaint as a safe, reliable service. Deregulation has manifestly failed to produce the bus network we need, either environmentally or economically.