Make transport fair, rather than fair game | Letters
Martin Griffiths, chief executive of Stagecoach does not want Manchester or Newcastle to benefit from a London-style franchising system for their buses (Free bus travel comes at a cost – Stagecoach, 11 December). Since bus services were deregulated outside London in the mid-1980s, bus companies have exploited the travelling public by making twice the rate of return on capital employed in the regions as on London operations. It is not surprising that Stagecoach wants to maintain this lucrative system, to the detriment of passengers, who pay higher fares for inferior services away from the capital.
Griffiths also makes a false comparison between free travel for bus passengers and free food at supermarkets. It is true, as he says, that the government does not ask Tesco to give pensioners free meals, but neither does Tesco ask for an annual subsidy of £2.5bn. Stagecoach and other private bus companies make their profits by playing the grant and subsidy system, not by taking risks and making innovations. On average, every bus that leaves the depot has a 50% public subsidy.
Source: Guardian Transport
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