Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Pre-Election Hype - With a Rider?

Breaking News from the CMA
It was once called the Competition Commission but, like everything else governmental, it has to be reconstituted and rebranded. But one of its purposes is still to stand up for the consumer.
So a report (published today) is of interest to bus management, less because it affects the public transport industry per se and more because it lauds bus and rail privatisation as a first rate exemplar of how consumers have benefited from competition. Some consumers and many transport operators may challenge the report's basis, but it does provide something of interest for the likes of fbb.
The report is 348 pages long with dozens of statistical tables, all far too detailed for an fbb blog. But some of the proposals re of interest.

Chapter 43 begins:-

Many bus companies do not publish their fares. Customers are required to choose, and board their service and then ask for the price. This can be annoying, but does ensure that destructive competition by price (fares) is harder to implement. The introduction of the Guaranteed Un-Revealed Selection System in the trial area should reduce the use of "loss leader" products.

The section goes on to propose that grocery prices are not shown on posters or advertisements, or listed on the shelves but only revealed after the customer has reached the checkout.

The Authority does, however, recognise the success of the rail industry in encouraging off-peak travel by offering very low prices. 
The plan is for Supermarkets to offer very cheap prices (on a small number of products) for customers shopping very early in the morning or late at night. Under this plan, Branston Baked Beans would be priced as below:-
The terms and conditions for these offers would, perforce, be incomprehensible to all but the most "savvy" shopper, but it would mean that companies could massage their overall pricing structture (in an appropriately named "basket" of offers) to convince the public that prices had not increased "overall".

The report saves its most revolutionary scheme till last. In the same way that bus operators must allow competitors to use their bus station even if they own it, big supermarkets will be obliged to allow local businesses to rent space in superstores and trade alongside, say Tesco.

The report cites an experiment in the town of Saxborough in Yorkshire's South Riding.
Here the Tesco Extra store was obliged to provide space for a local corner shop. The space had to be fairly allocated so that the corner shop could trade on an equal footing. The creation of the Office for Guaranteed Reasonable Unified Building usage (OffGrub) would arbitrate.
Small shopkeeper, 5 foot tall Rajesh Patel, is quoted (in the local press) as saying, "This has indeed been a bonanza for Mrs Patel and my good self. Our business is increasing an incredibly good deal. We are grateful to the wonderful English government and Her Majesty the Queen for allowing us to stuff our shelves and Tesco at the same time, goodness gracious me." Mr Patel is also chairman of the highly successful Saxborough Sterotypes Society and a leading voice in the community.

Tesco was unavailable for comment.

fbb has had barely enough time to digest the whole report, but it is, most definitely food for thought. Apparently the trial area (including Saxborough) will be reviewed after six months and we can expect a further report in exactly a year's time.

The report's author, Dolly Fariposa ...

... is emeritus professor of Policy at the Turin Institute of Rail and Road Transport.
Yorkshire Rider Rides Again
Another Heritage Livery from First Bus. (click on the bus to enlarge)
On 21 October 1988, Yorkshire Rider was privatised, being sold to a management buyout. In August 1989, the new company purchased West Yorkshire Road Car Company from AJS Holdings. In August 1990, the York businesses of Reynard Buses, Target Travel and York City & District were purchased. On 15 April 1994, Yorkshire Rider was purchased by Badgerline. It was included in the 16 June 1995 merger of Badgerline with GRT Group to form FirstBus.

The bus bears the name Brian Parkin.

January saw the funeral of one of Leeds' leading transport historians. Brian Parkin, who in addition to a career within the coach industry had also been editor of Metro Transport News for over fifty years, a substantial contributor to the five-volume set of books 'Leeds Transport' by the Leeds Transport Historical Society and served as an encyclopedia of knowledge to enthusiast organisations in West Yorkshire.

Nice touch, First.

Rider livery had numerous variations and several brand names (e.g. Gold Rider) but here is a preserved Leeds bus in the same livery as that adopted by First.

This blog was published (briefly) in error on Sunday 29th March - apologies for the confusion - fbb
How the win friends
and influence people.
Tell the nation's leaders that they are total failures!

Jesus was hungry. He saw in the distance a fig tree covered with leaves, so he went to see if he could find any figs on it. But when he came to it, he found only leaves ...

... because it was not the right time for figs. Jesus said to the fig tree, “No one shall ever eat figs from you again!”

Not very nice to the fig tree! But what did he really mean?

Trees are always a picture of the Jewish Nation. So Jesus was warning the leaders of the day that they were not "bearing fruit", not doing what God wanted. Because of this, they would lose their privileged status as "God's chosen people." They would not bear fruit again.

Severe, or what? But, in fact, the message of Christianity did not stay bottled up in the arid religion of the ancients; it spread like wildfire, all over the world.

But the criticism did not endear Jesus to the bosses. More tension!
 Next Bus Blog : Thursday 2nd April 


  1. What utter nonsense from the CMA... given that the entire basis for supermarket competition is price, the disappearance of price labels is just not going to happen. I also believe that Stagecoach has a policy of putting major ticket prices on every bus... and aren't they the country's biggest bus operator?

  2. Well, Hello Dolly......

  3. By chance I read this on the 29th and thought mmm has this escaped early!! However in 44 years in public transport you think you've seen it all. Well done FBB, have you seen Plymothian Transit this morning?
    Ken Traveline Dorset

  4. All the best of today's stories have a grain of truth....
    Consider that the same product can be sold at wildly different prices in different supermarkets - 500g of Clover spread in the last week was £2 in Tesco, £1.05 in Morrisons and just 95p in....Waitrose.
    And that time differential pricing applies too - generally the price of short-dated products falls during the course of the day (10p loaves just minutes before closing time, for example [no 24hr supermarkets - or bus services - in my home town]).
    And, some planning authorities have insisted on space being provided for small retailers in the largest developments. Perhaps Saxborough Council was one following this policy.

  5. Given Amazon's new launch of product ordering buttons for fridges, with no price label in sight... fbb wasn't that far off.