Business monopolies ain’t that great for the consumer. And here’s a great example of why. All those who travel by bus (including school & college students) will probably relate to this…
We live in East Lancashire. In a valley called Rossendale. It’s nestled in-between Blackburn, Burnley, Bury & Rochdale. And borders both Greater Manchester & West Yorkshire at certain points.
I suppose Rossendale (being it’s own borough) has always been self-sufficient & has run it’s own bus service since 1907. In 1974 Bacup & Whitworth joined the borough & the bus service become known as Rossendale Transport.
Over the years there have been concerns Rossendale Council were trying to sell off the bus service to private organisations. This came to a head in 2009. Culminating in a public protest outside the town hall, aiming to dissuade the council from selling. The council relented & announced that it was retaining its ownership of the bus service.
But finally this year Rossendale Council got their way and sold the bus service (renamed to ROSSO) to Transdev Blazfield. Who in turn are owned by Transdev. Transdev are one of the largest public transport operators in Europe. Every year 3.5 billion people travel on Transdev’s transport networks. They are huge.
But why’s this bad for the consumer I hear you say. Well, here’s the thing…
Rossendale only had one bus service and as it was owned by the council the prices were kept reasonable. But still at a level where it produced enough profit to operate, maintain and invest in new equipment. And as soon as Transdev took over guess what happened?
Yes, they put the prices up. And not just by a little. The impact on our family is significant and I’m sure it’s worse for many others too.
Our eldest goes to a school in Waterfoot and catches the bus from the far end of Haslingden every morning. And it’s much more cost effective for us to purchase an annual junior bus ticket, which also lets him travel at weekends & non term times too. Last year it cost £550. Yes, it’s still a lot of cash for your children to get to school. But we don’t really have any other alternative.
Imagine our surprise when we went to renew his annual pass. To be told that ROSSO no longer provide annual passes since the Transdev purchase. That’s when we were hit by the double whammy. And the monthly price has gone up, whilst also being reduced to a 28 day ticket too.
So for us, the same 12 month period will now cost us around £754. Which is an increase of a mind blowing 37%.
Obviously, if there was an alternative bus company that was more cost effective, we would use them. But as Transdev have a monopoly in Rossendale, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. And as Transdev (as a publicly listed company) have share holders to please, we have no doubt prices will increase further year on year too.
It seems that Transdev are slowly buying up all the independent bus operators. Around us they have already bought both Blackburn & Burnley bus companies creating further monopolies, along-side Rossendale. So watch out. It might be yours next!
For me though, monopolies with price increases is not the way to do business, it should be a fair price for all. And not to instigate huge price increases, just to line the pockets of executives & share holders.
As we nationally roll out our small organisation managed print service we will never do this. It will be a fair price for all and we will even guarantee that your agreement price will never increase too.
There are many examples of monopolies causing price increases for the consumer. The government selling off the water utilities in 1987 being a cracker. But what others can you think of & what effect has it had on the consumer?