Monopoly Over Passenger Bus Service * Canada - Open the highways to competition
Why did governments think they needed to regulate intercity bus travel in the first place?
Don Mills,Ontario,Canada -National Post -September 05, 2009: -- At the core of the problem with Greyhound Canada's decision on Thursday to withdraw its buses from Manitoba and Northern Ontario is the belief that the federal and provincial governments should have a significant roll in setting bus company routes and timetables -telling Greyhound what communities it must service and how often... Federal Transportation Minister, John Baird, is wrong... Greyhound is not being "heavy handed." It is not holding bus passengers hostage. If its service cuts are not truly being made to stem financial losses, but rather to squeeze politicians for subsidies to compensate for unprofitable routes, then Ottawa and the provinces are themselves mostly to blame. Greyhound is able to use such leverage only because governments have granted it a near monopoly over passenger bus service from Ontario west... For years, governments have seen it as politically desirable for small, remote communities to have regular bus service, especially those towns without regular air or rail service. But such service is too costly and the profits (if there are any) are too thin to attract big bus companies... So provincial and federal transportation boards and regulators have negotiated trade-offs: If bus companies would provide reasonably reliable and cheap service on money-losing remote routes, regulators would keep competitors off the profitable routes between large cities... What is needed is deregulation -- or no regulation at all -- so independent operators can run vans and smaller buses to and from less populated routes. Throw open the highways to competition. Give no subsidies, but let little companies and individual entrepreneurs have the chance to determine what level of service is profitable, rather than leaving those decisions to provincial and federal transportation boards... Such a system would undoubtedly lead to more and better service from distant communities, not less...
Labels: monopolic bus services