POLL: Nottingham ‘Bus War’

I’m interested in gathering opinions of my readers on the current competition on bus routes around Nottingham. I’ve tried to keep this poll simple and just ask about what impact you believe it has for passengers, you can submit an alternative answer if you wish, though.

Thanks for your vote – I will publish the results soon. This post is not to pass judgement on the situation, it is simply to gather views amongst the readership of this blog.

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About trentsidetraveller

A lifelong public transport user, enthusiast and occasional photographer. My travels take me around the country, occasionally overseas, but my most frequent journeys see me cross the River Trent on a regular basis. So the moniker of Trentside Traveller came about, and now I'm blogging about my travels, and the latest changes to public transport in the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire area.

18 thoughts on “POLL: Nottingham ‘Bus War’

  1. I think that this was the very reason that de-regulation was introduced. After the first few years, when things had settled down it seemed that it had all been rather pointless but it’s good to see a measure of competition and choice coming back. The economic situation makes it very timely, TrentBarton, for example may claim to offer a quality service but it is a VERY expensive one. If a smaller operator can operate on smaller margins, then I welcome them and with more people travelling than ever before, even on sundays (loadings on sundays with shoppers etc, are higher today than operators could ever have dreamed of in, say, the 1960’s/1970’s) there is room for them. If only it could tempt more people out of their cars, it would be even more desirable!

  2. I disagree with the actions of yourbus’s predatory behaviour in Nottingham but I changed my mind yesterday regarding premiere after taking a trip on red5 to Long Eaton. On a return trip I noticed 7 individual cases of passengers not being able to make the same trip if red5 didn’t operate, this was mostly between Queens Rd east-west.
    The £1 fares seem crazy but from the loadings at 2pm I think red5 will outlast red2, trentbarton couldn’t make the off peak lex work though!!!

    • I think the LEX was a good example of TB not wanting to cannibalise passengers of the rainbow 5 / indigo. The value to them was much less than another operator.

      • I don’t know I think trentbarton got it wrong with the lex, why didn’t they use the stops on Queens Road West? afterall NO other bus service used these stops & it looks like premiere are cashing in on them, I’m not saying these stops are gold mines at all but they are contributing to extra revenue towards red5 somthing lex never took advantage of & indeed on the remaining peak trips still don’t!

  3. It is interesting that this post has attracted so few replies. I apologise in advance for this being more like a blog than a reply, but there are some salient points to be made.

    It makes absolute sense that bus passengers, other road users and tax/rate payers require a degree of control over the services that are provided by the bus service operator(s) in their area. For this reason, competition should be able to allow stakeholders to remove a poorly performing operator, and moderate prices, should an operator choose to set an above market fare. The original legislation was set out to do just this. Unfortunately, like a number of markets, the main operators have managed to determine a strategy to maximise their influence. This frequently reduces overall competition, and can lead to a small number of operators who are happy with their market share, and will work together with their key competitors. The big “few” (I won’t say 5, because it is fluid) bus operators are very much in this mould. Markets such as retail banking, insurance, domestic energy and supermarkets are similar.

    The trouble with the bus market is threefold:

    Paying customers will catch the first service to arrive, the potential saving of a few pence a small price to pay for a longer wait in the rain. In reality there seems to be a very British practice of queueing to board one bus when an identical service has arrived behind, with no queue.

    A high proportion of users do not pay at all. They will definitely catch the first to arrive. Similar in metropolitan areas, where a council multi operator scheme exists, there is no operator loyalty.

    A new operator will tend to wade in with a way too frequent service, and special offer fares which are unsustainable in the long term, simply to damage the incumbent. The “Bus War”

    In reality not all scenarios are like this, small operators can frequently show innovation, and explore routes which incumbents do not want, either because the margins are below their requirement, they would simply be cannibalising their own trade, or because they prefer this minor route as a tendered one. In many cases, however the services are simply “me too”. Same frequency. Runs a minute or two ahead of their competitor, similar fares, lower cost base. This in reality offers the customer no more power than choosing the colour (or age) of the bus they catch.

    The real risk here, is that historically, these small incursions are used, ultimately for the national operators to move into the areas with the weakened incumbent simply by outbussing the combined service or buying one of the operators involved. This story has been played out countless times since deregulation.

    My view is it is the bus war that does the damage, not competition per-se, and that the sheer level of deregulation has led to a position where the market can be distorted.

    I recently visited a South Midlands city (and there aren’t many of them!) and caught a service that seemed to have two major operators and one small (and relatively infrequent service). Headway seemed to be 4 – 6 minutes, and buses ran together. after 1830 the service was tendered. Half hourly until 21:30. Signs were on the bus stops advertising a consultation into cuts to tendered services. It occurred to me there must be a better approach that would benefit all of the stakeholders. A better off-peak service, and a more reliable peak one (passengers), less buses (other road users and residents) and a better deal to the ratepayer. I see that this can only be delivered by the local authority, by effectively franchising their core routes, and making the choice based on acceptable frequency, historic reliability on that or other routes, reasonable fares, and value to the ratepayer. The operator would in return protection from me-too operators (but not genuinely different services on a similar route), enhanced traffic control, stop space and shelters.

  4. Interesting comment, is there a solution lol. I have respect for premiere in taking up the challenge of red5 after trentbarton not quite getting the product right, it looks like premiere will make a success out of the red5 simpily by using the faster direct route & stopping along the way!
    I have no respect for yourbus y36 what’s so ever. NCT have transformed this route in ten years & the possible loss of revenue will make this route suffer in the end, lack of extra investment ect. When yourbus first started it was nothing beter than a me too service only running daytimes every 20 minutes using old darts & even today with slightly cheaper fares people are still waiting for the orange 36, I still do.

  5. Although not quite the right thread to post this on, the details of revised 15/16 and 87/88 NCT routes have been released.

    Interesting revisions to 88.

    Even more interesting is swapping all four routes from deckers to solo sr’s. Granted during the majority of the day this won’t mater, but peak loadings on these routes are always high, and I can’t see people being to chuffed being shoehorned into SR’s. An opportunity for premier maybe..

    • I wouldn’t of thought so, NCT are investing in new & uping the frequencies from 20 to 15 minutes. Rise Park dosn’t need another bus war, Barton lost in the early nineties then so did nottm omnibus, customers remained loyal to NCT.

      • Ahh, Nottingham Omnibus. Now there was a me-too operator if there ever was one. It is their actions that gave me my distaste for bus wars. I don’t remember them ever getting more than minimal loadings though. In many of the city only routes, I believe Barton (and Trent) pretty much handed the routes over.

  6. Whilst the shortened and rerouted 15 shouldn’t have a capacity problem, the new 88 (old 15) and the 87 get very busy at peaks. Whilst yes there is a higher frequency than at present (1 extra bus per hour) will this compensate for a 55% reduction in capacity.

    Changed routes and over crowding could make it an interesting few weeks for NCT in September.

    That said, the section of these routes which are not covered by the 17 and 89 is relatively small. I suppose the challenge for NCT is to get customers who use hucknall road to only use the 17 and those who only use Mansfield Rd and Edwards lane to use the 88. This in itself will free up capacity.

  7. Let’s hope NCT have got this change right!
    It’s often believed Trent & NCT made arrangments in the late 80s 90s to ‘work alongside’ not against. In the days of bulwell garages atlanteens all buses featured Hucknall blinds in a bid to scare Trent as to say ‘just try it on’. It’s good having a municipal city & independent district operator & I belive nottingham’s success in being a top city for transport is the fact NCT & trentbarton have been able to concentrate all resources into their own routes instead of fighting a war with each other, but could premiere & yourbus be about to undo this?

  8. I too believe that Yourbus Y36 are simply parasites that do nothing for the people of Nottingham. NCT’s 36 was fine, reliable, decently priced. Now NCT is having to run extra buses that are pretty empty and they must be making a loss on, just to fight against Yourbus predatory tactics (i:e running 2 mins ahead of NCT). I also respect Premiere’s R5 (although Premiere also played dirty on the Cotgrave and Bingham routes). Anyone who cares about public transport in Nottingham, please use NCT 36 not Yourbus. Everyone in Nottingham will pay higher fares if NCT have to waste money defending against Yourbus.

    • I couldn’t agree more 🙂
      NCT are winning the war with numbers 🙂
      Ten years ago just before go2 there was 4 buses to town along the Inham Nook loop daytimes, now including yourbus there are 12 in the evenings alone!! Something’s got to give……..

  9. Seems comments still work here –

    Any chance of passing the blog (which has been well done, and is respected) to a new maintainer. I volunteer.

    Thanks for the blog Mr T!

    Andrew

    • That’s good of you Andrew, if you need a small little helper I’m happy to help out & I’ll be impartial too lol because with a blog like this it’s important. I have respect for mr Trentside in not being biased & trying to be balanced at all times.

      • Guys, thank you both for the kind words and the offer to continue the blog in some form. You may have noticed the closure post has disappeared, and I’m about to send you both an email with an idea I’ve had.

        Thanks, Trentside.

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