Thursday 19 April 2012

Competition, Collusion or Collapse? [2]

Manchester's Magic is Multiplying : Part 1
The news that, from the end of April, "Magicbus" is starting a service from Rotherham provokes fbb to have a look at that particular brand, which is, as we know, Stagecoach in a feeble disguise. A blog on the new service will follow in dues course; when Stagecoach Yorkshire deigns to reply to an email request for a copy of any leaflets. So far, two emails sent but no response. Travel South Yorkshire have merely appended the Magicbus times to the TSY Firstbus service 22 leaflet.

As an aside, those enthusing over the ease of communication via bits and bytes in the sky might well be advised to consider how easy it is to ignore (even delete) received emails that are too much trouble to answer. Philosophically speaking, it is much harder to ignore a letter.
The "Curry Mile" : Wilmslow Road at Night

Wilmslow Road runs south from the centre of Manchester to, erm, Wilmslow. Within the borders of the city it is built-up all the way, serves the huge Manchester University complex (on Oxford Road)...
... and busy shops and housing. It is excellent bus territory.

Once a tram corridor with very few other vehicles ...
... and later, home to the iconic and revolutionary "Mancunian" double deckers ...
... the road has always been busy, busy.

Today, a glance at the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) map shows plenty of routes ...
... too many, some would say.
In 2006, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport was told
The Wilmslow Road corridor, although enjoying a level of service that no other route in England has in terms of the frequency of buses, is chaos.
This is because many companies are running the same route and competing for passengers. Various estimations of patronage have been suggested from research, one as low as 3.5 passengers per bus on average. In actual fact the exact figures are not available to us because of commercial sensitivity.
Stagecoach prices along this route are high and smaller companies buy up cheaper, older and dirtier buses and carry passengers for as little as a third of the Stagecoach price. Some of them still carry London posters because they are rejected stock from London, where standards are higher. Observations reported to us suggest that they will wait to fill up with as many passengers as possible rather than sticking to a timetable and there have been reports of some companies waiting at a stop until another company's bus is just behind and then pulling off. Although one has to wait literally seconds for a bus, the congestion at certain junctions because of too many buses and the unwillingness of these buses to stick to timetables makes travelling on this route an unpleasant and stressful one.
In the six years since those condemnatory words were written, things have quietened down a bit. Some operators have disappeared as in UK North and its alter ego, GM Buses ...

... whose services were suspended by the Traffic Commissioner in December 2006 and in January 2007 the company went bust.
Others have been taken over. Bullocks, for example ...
... was bought out by Stagecoach.
Tomorrow we look at the situation at present, where things are a little less frantic; but, nevertheless, there are still vast numbers of buses plying their competitive trade along the Wilmslow Road ...
... including Magic Bus. It's all very confusing, but at least you don't have to wait long for a bus.

Will this situation be repeated between Rotherham and Wath?
P.S. email reply from Stagecoach Yorkshire yesterday afternoon : leaflets not yet delivered (with just over a week to go to launch!) : will send one when they arrive : fbb waiting with bated breath.
 Next blog : Friday 20th April 

1 comment:

  1. Last year First started their 22 (Rotherham-Wath-Barnsley) through traditional Stagecoach (and earlier Yorkshire Traction) territory, using some of their few modern vehicles on it. Stagecoachg are now retaliating; the MagicBus brand presumably shoiws an intention to compete on price in an area which is not one of the UK's most affluent.