Sunday, 26 September 2010

Bus Companies Don't Get Mad - They Get Even

When the time for re-tendering council service contracts comes up, the air is fraught with nervous bus companies putting in quotes to run the allotted routes. More and more it has become an aggressive debacle as cash starved councils are forced to accept the lowest price to offer value for money to their council tax payers. In principal this is fine, but in practise it is a public punch-up between the quality bus operators and an increasing number of 'cowboys' who creep out of the woodwork, putting in insulting prices for the routes.

It means that a bus company can do a fantastic job, give a reasonable quote yet lose its contract to another, often lesser company who have put in a ludicrously low quote which can only mean that they can operate the route, at beat at break even. Though money is saved, everyone else usually loses. The service goes down, reliability and punctuality lessen and there are an increasing number of complaints from the general public.

One company recently lost a route where they worked to 98% reliability. They accepted it, but one week before the changeover was due, they put the drivers' wages up by 10%. It caused consternation for the new company and ill feeling amongst their drivers. this was because the contract stated that the knew company had to honour the previous company's drivers' salaries.
Therefore the new companies wage structure was thrown into disarray as the drivers on this particular route had to be paid a higher hourly rate than other drivers on other routes. This caused animosity and grief. All very satisfying for the outgoing operator.

The bus world can be a dirty business.

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