- ... I believe it s necessary to look at little further under the surface to test the notions that UK degregulation worked in that it achieved what theMessage 1 of 4 , Oct 1, 1999View Source
Alan P Howes wrote:
>Deregulation does not work. It has been a disaster for the UK.
But not entirely there. UK Dereg worked in that it achieved what the
government wanted - big cuts in subsidy. (OK, they also said they
wanted to revitalise Public Transport, but if you believed that ...)
And IMO the public as a whole (including taxpayers) got better value
for money out of PT after Dereg than before it.
I believe it's necessary to look at little further under the surface to test the notions that "UK degregulation worked in that it achieved what the government wanted - big cuts in subsidy." .... and that "... the public as a whole (including taxpayers) got better value for money out of PT after Dereg than before it."
Whilst it is true that direct subsidies to operators from the UK Dept. of Transport were reduced following deregulation, it is arguable that different, indirect subsidies began to apply instead. Chief among these are the payments made by the British Dept. of Social Security to bus company staff. In Britain, there exists a payment called "Low Income Earner's Supplement" (I think that's the name of it) which is paid to employed people earning less than a certain amount. A great deal of this money flows to poorly paid bus drivers and bus company staff - to the extent that the pamphlet produced by the Dept. of Social Security explaining people's entitlement to the allowance has a picture of a bus driver on it. So, instead of the Dept. of Transport directly subsidising the employers, the Department of Social Security is subsidising bus company employees. Is there any real saving made? I don't know. Another aspect to this is that many of the present bus drivers and other staff are people who did not naturally gravitate to this kind of work, but were instead forced off the 'dole' into this form of employment. I question the wisdom of forcing people who do not wish to be bus drivers into this kind of work. It does not suit everybody, it is highly stressful and there are probably service standard and safety implications to this.
Secondly, many of the services that withered following deregulation are now being provided with subsidies from local Councils instead of the central government. Local Councils are funded partly out of their locally derived rates, and partly from central government. So, perhaps the budgets have just been shifted around with no overall saving.
There is a further complicating factor. It is entirely possible that another form of subsidy, a very murky one, exists in some of the London operations. This subsidy (if that is the right word) derives from the fact that some of the companies contracted to London Transport to provide services were handed very large bus depots, with the proviso that they cannot sell them for ten years. These are very large pieces of land on very valuable real estate. Looking at the long term, some of those operators might well be prepared to make a loss on their operations for the long term gain available from the eventual sale of that real estate. In this case, it will have been a subsidy in a non-recurrent form, i.e. the value of the previously publicly-owned depots. The ten year freeze on the sale of those depots must soon be over. It will be interesting to see what happens to the services run from them after that.
Personally, having re-visited London (my birthplace) and other parts of England after an absence of some years in my new home in Australia, I find that the services have declined significantly in terms of cleanliness and maintenance of vehicles and reliability of the services. Some of that decline in reliability probably cannot be laid at the feet of the new operators, however, but rather is the result of increased congestion on the roads due to much increased car ownership and use.
One aspect of the deregulation of bus services in the UK is very interesting. That is that while outside of London the services are almost totally deregulated, it was found necessary to maintain regulation in London - it was just too important to stuff up. The contracting companies are told when and where to run by London Transport, and most of them run on the same routes they have run for decades. This provides certainty and stability to the travelling public, to developers and to business. Outside of London, people don't know what is happening .... services are introduced and abandoned at will.
Charlie Richardson sydtrans@...
- I do intend (when I get around to it) to respond to some of Charlie s points - many of which raise more social issues than transport ones. I can t help feelingMessage 2 of 4 , Oct 11, 1999View SourceI do intend (when I get around to it) to respond to some of Charlie's
points - many of which raise more social issues than transport ones. I
can't help feeling that I have been here before though - no doubt on
misc.transport.urban-transit (which I can't get at from here).
On Sat, 02 Oct 1999 13:11:19 +1000, Charlie Richardson
>I believe it's necessary to look at little further under the surface to test the
>notions that "UK degregulation worked in that it achieved what the government
>wanted - big cuts in subsidy." .... and that "... the public as a whole (including
>taxpayers) got better value for money out of PT after Dereg than before it."
Alan & Jacqui Howes, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Formerly Perthshire, Scotland)
http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/alanhowes/ [Needs Updating!]
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