John Pinkerton, Chairman of the Scottish Association for Public Transport writes about the Government‘s plans for the de-rcgulation ofbus services.
he present government believes in
free competition, and the latest subject of this policy is the bus. From the end of October bus services are to be deregulated. This means that lorthe firsttime in more than fifty years anyone can run a bus service for the public it they think they can make a profit. The new procedure is to apply torregistration with the Regional Council who may only refuse such registration in limited cases.
There are some services which no
one will want to run without subsidy, and the Regional Council will put these out to tender. The operator who seeks the lowest subsidy will be awarded the service. It is up to the Regional Council to decide what services they wish to put : outto tenderinthis way. and they should be guided by considerations of the services which they think are socially necessary.
The intercity coach services have been deregulated in this way for some time, and there is no doubt that the services have been greatly improved. The Government says that the same will happen to other services. The introduction of competition into intercity coaches resulted in a number of private operators taking the opportunity to run comfortable coaches, with reasonable fares, on routes and at times that satisfied the public demand. The Scottish Bus Group, which isthe largest Scottish bus operator, responded rapidly to the competition and themselves introduced a successful intercity service. Scotrail also felt the effect of this competition and improved their services and reduced some lares.
Butwill the same improvements be seen in other bus operations, or are intercity coaches a special case? In the Scottish Association for Public Transport we consider that the Government has made a serious mistake in theircalculation ofthe effects of deregulation. The damaging
2 The List 17 — 3t) October
parts of the bus network.
In the more remote rural areas, subsidy is necessary if any service is to survive. The Regional and Island Councils have the new responsibility directly to subsidise these services. This is fine in theory, but the Government has provided no money for this purpose and the Councils are not permitted to exceed the already tight Government spending limits. The problem is almost the same for urban areas at night and at weekends. Everyone is familiar with the almost empty buses which run in the early moming, in the evenings and at weekends. They are essential to those people who work at these times. But it is difficult to see how these services can survive under the Government's scheme.
The next serious problem is in relation to the profitable busy services. These are the services which newcomers to the market will wish to run. In Glasgow, there has been a rush to register such services. The results have already been unsatisfactory and will become worse. In theory it is splendid to have too many buses, but life is not that simple. Too many cause congestion on the streets and it is not safe to have buses racing lorthe bus stops to catch the passengers. If there are too many buses, services which are normally profitable will become unprofitable through provision. In the hurly-burly of competition services will be constantly changing with the utmost confusion to the public who already have some difficulty in discovering the times of buses, their routes and fares. Unlimited competition will also affect the Scotrail services, which are subsidised, in Strathclyde by the Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive who also run the buses. There is a great dangerthat oft-peak train services will be seriously curtailed. In addition the useful, and financially attractive system of travelcards which enable passengers to move from one vehicle or train to anotherwithout further payment, will inevitably break down.
These problems have not been faced bythe Government, and 1987 is going to be a year of confusion and declining services for unfortunate public-transport users who will be the victims of these ill-considered experiments.
5 BIRTHDAY GREETINGS
The List is one year old. Since we
emerged. surprised. onto the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh in October last year. we‘ve made it our business to keep you informed on anything and everything taking place in the two cities. There have been a lot oflists . . . there have also been features on topics ranging from Christmas Pudding to Dounreay.
from the Male Pill to the National
Theatre. from Bernard Manning to Kurosawa. from Lloyd Cole to Thunderbirds. . .and much more besides. Thanks to everyone who has bought and supported the magazine over the past year. have a pint on us and — see you next year!
- NEW HELPLINE
The Leith Group, the community-based drug ‘help‘ group this week began an information
phone line for people who need help
with their drug problem. Open
, between 7.3(lam—9.3()pm daily (554
751(3). it will be staffed by local volunteers who aim to provide a friendly voice to offer help, give information or encourage callers to avail themselves of the group‘s scrvrces.
The group. formed late in 1983, say that because they are an already established counselling and help group. they will already be aware of the problems and needs of prospective callers and will be able to react to them straightaway. The information line will be a further tool in their aims of helping addicts; supporting those discharged from prison or hospital; promoting education and training about drugs to individuals and groups and setting up a library ofdrug related information and literature.
Glasgow‘s most ambitious venture musicwise. the Futureworld Recording Studios (incorporating (iet Found Cafe) is currently open for business. When completed it will offer local talent a complete service, from making a demo to taking publicity shots to shooting a video and putting together a promotional package to send to record companies. Bands are currently in and recording. and Futureworld are
; auditioning bands for inclusion on a
compilation video to be commercially released. This Saturday (18 Oct) the Get Found Cafe will be starting live music performances. It is open 10am—7pm Mon—Sun. See future issues of The List for more details on Future world .
i N0 JOKING MATTER
The irony ofthe title ofhis new show, Laugh? I Could Have Died! is not lost on David Danzig. A few years ago. Danzig. who frequently
.« s I, Banngg.‘
. ‘ ' .ﬂwé‘t ' r I ‘ z. 9:!
David Danzig: Theatre of Lemmings
acts as a stunt-man, was unable to come to the Edinburgh Festival, when a stunt went badly wrong and he got 40% burns. ‘I haven’t done that particular stunt since . . .’
Life as one halfof the Grand Theatre of Lemmings (the other half being Mandy Medlicott) is slightly less dangerous. Nonetheless, in his stage persona, Danzig still courts danger, ‘I end up being blown up or ; destroyed three times in the show.‘ 5
The show does have a story line. told through crazy humour, magic. illusion and escapology. but at its centre is the Lemmingrad State ' Circus, involving lemmings in levitating and fire-eating. Puppet lemmings, explains Danzig soberly, ‘I don't think it‘s possible to train real lemmings.’ f
Danzig graduated to the Theatre of .' Lemmings after an apprenticeship with the Smallest Theatre in the 3 World (‘You may remember the nail-up-the-nose stunt' . . .) and extensive research into escapology. The name of the company has to do with ‘the affinity between death and danger and things going wrong and lemmings.‘ And Danzig‘s own predilection for danger? ‘I think it started when I was young— people were always telling me. you can‘t do that. So now, I think, whenever I‘m confronted by something I can‘t do, I try and do it.‘(Sarah Lemming) f The Grand Theatre of Lemmings, Laugh, I Could Have Died, is at l Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh on 1 7 l and 18 Oct.
5 srmxmc our l
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has just announced the appointment of their first ever Principal Conductor. The remarkable young Finn, Jukka-Pekka Saraste (pronounced Yooka-Pehka Sar-ah-steh) at only thirty years old will be occupying his position from 1 June next year when he takes the orchestra on tour. An
incredibly successfuly debut tour with the SCO on his homegg'r-‘ound of