Here, I am collecting a number of service providers in the field of public transport. More obviously, there are bus and train companies but tram operators aren’t excluded either. The latter often features a mix of public and private sector involvement so you often find that they are transport networks instead of specific operators. Regardless of their classification, the mode of transport is an up and coming one after its being mothballed for a number of decades in many places. It’s good to find ingenuity from a former time having a place in the modern world.
With increasing car usage, it was buses that took over from trams and there were places where they were places where tram lines were seen as causing congestion. However, while trams go from strength to strength, it seems that bus operators are facing a not inconsiderable number of challenges. Static or falling patronage is among those though there is growth in some parts too. Reduction in government support during these times of austerity isn’t helping either. Even so, many bus companies seem to be surviving with not so many business failures. Two come to mind and there are signs of retrenchment such as First’s departure from north Devon and cuts in East Lothian. It now seems that bus services need our support more than ever and the times in which we live may mean that those formerly having cars have to make more use of public transport too.
As if to prove that anything running on rails is on the up these days, ridership on trains continues to increase in spite of fare increases, at least in the U.K. Allegedly, the increase in the cost of travel is being used to enhance the railway network and there are plans for improvements over the next decade too. Nevertheless, one is left wondering if there are opportunities for express coach service operators too. After all, a £290 anytime return fare from Macclesfield to London has to put you looking at alternatives. Let’s hope these moderate and that any efficiency savings don’t affect the front line service offering and better than ever safety record.
Public transport operators and networks continue to face challenges even if they are different to what went before now. Bus companies continue to change and rail franchise competitions are won and lost so what you find here has to change with time. Controversies like First wresting the West Coast franchise from Virgin will reign from time to time but the hope is that quality and not cost is what drives the services that are on offer. Regardless of what the U.K.’s Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission think, it is the private car that is the major competitor here and that doesn’t look like changing too much at all unless fuel prices really start increasing and engine efficiency cannot be improved any more than it has done so far.