Friday 20 April 2012

Competition, Collusion or Collapse? [3]

Manchester's Magic is Multiplying : Part 2

The news that a Magicbus service is soon to start in South Yorkshire has prompted fbb to look at this "low cost" brand, brought to us by Stagecoach and currently a major player along the Wilmslow Road.

In yesterday's blog (read again) we saw that there was a time when almost everyone with a bus was chasing customers between Piccadilly and Didsbury.

Nowadays, however, the corridor now is "shared" by Stagecoach ...
... operating routes 41, 42 and 43. Finglands, part of the East Yorkshire group ...
... operating service 41, 42 and 48. And, of course, Magicbus ...
... seen here in a former guise on the Stockport Road but now operating 142, 143 and few journeys numbered 145. And yes, Stagecoach is vigorously competing with itself! On the 42 route, each operator advertises a bus at least every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday (mostly all day Sunday as well). There are other frequent routes aong the Wilmslow Road in full or in part but fbb is keeping things as simple as possible.

Stagecoach 42 extends every 20 mins to Stockport, ...
... and here is Magicbus 142 ...
... and Finglands 42.
And that is just the 42 group! It is worth reminding our blog readers that the phrase "at least every 10 minutes" in a timetable means that the operator can add extra buses at will; there is no need to register the full timetable provided that the frequency does not drop below every 10 minutes.
East Didsbury Parrs Wood terminus

So cloggage still happens!
Wilmslow Road on a quiet day!

Since the days of the 2006 report (above) the three remaining operators have offered a higher level of professionalism than repoted then, with even Magicbus now having a less "basic" livery.
As usual it is difficult to fathom the fares situation but this is what fbb has gleaned from a cursory click of his cursor.
£3.40 : Day
£7.50 : Week
£59.00 : Student Term

£3.90 : Day
£12.00 : Week
£55.00 : Student Term

£3:90 : Day (presumably)
£8.00 : Week
£55.00 : Student Term (presumably)

Question 1 : Are these companies actually making money on the Wilmslow Road? If not, as seems likely, then the Manchester bus passenger elsewhere is paying for the losses through fares that are unnecessarily high.

Question 2 : In our enlightened age of "greenness" and pollution fears, can we, as a society, really justify loads of empty buses grinding up and down the Wilmslow Road, day and night.

Question 3 : Will the new proposals on competition from H M Government, even if eventually enacted, make a tiny jot of difference here? With a superficial read it would appear that this is what the government wants? Or doesn't want? Or will encourage? Or will discourage?
In a few days we will take a look at the history of the Magic Bus brand throughout the UK; and we hope that Stagecoach Yorkshire will have managed to provide some publicity to encourage passengers to try their offering between Rotherham and Wath. fbb ias ready to blog specifically on what is, effectively, a resurgence of the "War in West Melton". In the meantime, tomorrow and Sunday, we return to the Bristol Channel.
 Next blog : Saturday 21st April 

1 comment:

  1. 1) Certainly fares along Wilmslow Road are cheaper than fares on other, parallel routes, e.g. service 50 to East Didsbury via Kingsway. As for making money, there's a huge student population and several university campuses served: a huge bulk market.

    2) Most buses load reasonably well along Wilmslow Road, certainly north of Withington. Add to that a 5 minute hybrid-bus frequency taking Stagecoach 42 and 43s combined.

    3) Dunno.