Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Breakout of Common Sense!

One of my previous blogs talked about the madness of one of the worst aspects of bus deregulation - running 5 minutes in front of a competitor.
Although this has largely died out (compared to the time immediately following bus deregulation in the late 80s), I was - and frankly still am - amazed at Diamond's actions on Black Country route 226 - a long and windy affair on a half-hour frequency that wouldn't ordinarily seem set to be the battleground for market share.
Over the summer, we've seen both operators re-registering times so that one gets 5 minutes ahead of the other. Even Centro appeared to lose the will to live (and the cost of regularly updating timetables on the route).
Now, as from yesterday, common sense appears to have broken out! There is now a regularly spaced 4 buses per hour between the 2 operators that makes sense.
This is logical for users, but still leaves me questioning whether the route - which largely carries concessionary pass holders throughout the day, and both operators offering £2 return fares - is sustainable on a 15 minute frequency long-term.
With the Merry Hill Centre at one end of the route, I hope it will be.
"Competition" in all walks of business may be one way of "upping" the level of service, but I'm still not convinced it's ultimately the best way for buses.
But are "Quality Contracts" as the alternative either?

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