Editorial Follow the Greyhound trail
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LATER this month, 1,000 independent bus and coach operators will be bidding for franchises on 500 loss-making routes. That is how Greyhound of America is tackling the problems thrown up by deregulation, introduced in the USA in September, 1982.
When deregulation comes to Britain next October, the National Bus Company will be faced with the same problems as Greyhound. It may consider applying the same techniques to find the answers.
Franchises in the USA will cost $20,000 and Greyhound will take eight-15 per cent of ticket sales. By franchising, Greyhound keeps its name on the road.
According to Greyhound, deregulation in the USA has led to a 40 per cent cut in passenger fares. This should be music to the ears of Nicholas Ridley, whose Transport Bill has raised controversy from all shades of political opinion and within the industry.
One of the aspects of deregulation which has had little airing is the bus stations. These places are a drain on resources, but they need not be.
If the proprietors were to franchise them, they could be a valuable source of income and an attraction to passengers. This is hardly a new idea — it is the British Airports Authority which runs the air terminals, not the airlines.
Coach companies are in the business of carrying passengers — they only require pick-up and setting down points. Terminus facilities should be franchised to those better equipped to service both vehicles and passengers, ie oil companies and caterers.