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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Bus Strike solution: 5% in '05 for 5yrs

If the EPMU wants their workers to get a 5% pay rise this year ("5 in 05") then may I suggest a resolution to the Tramways Union strike against the Stagecoach company across Auckland. Sort of by way of a consumer demands/petition:

The passengers of Stagecoach support the busdrivers in their pay claim of a minumum $16 per hour.
We want an end to this dispute. To provide funds for the extra remuneration we therefore offer to Stagecoach our permission to raise bus fares on average a total of 5% maximum immediately on the following conditions:
1. The increase to a minimum of $16 per hour pay for every driver is immediate.
2. The new fare structure and pricing remain the same for a minimum of five years.

I was considering a third proviso about ensuring the existing bus pass holders should have their value of fares now grandfathered over the new rates so they don't have to pay the extra based on something they bought thinking it was set. But then again it is nice and simple as is.

This is an oppurtunity for the passengers, the bloody customers, to screw something out of the bastards for once. They can structure their 5% increase any way they want, it is the total we have agreed to, not across the board. They may choose to sting cash sales customers or weight it to hit the one stage customers. Whatever, we will have the certainty that the fares are set for 5 years with this agreement. We could get the ARC to coutersign as a deal over their subsidies too.

The trains in Auckland tonight were packed to capacity and many people were left stranded on platforms. The rugby at Eden Park caused commuter anarchy on the trains by all accounts. And we have until Tuesday with no end in sight. Hang tough Tramways the passengers are with you.


At 7/5/05 9:28 am, Blogger David Farrar said...

Umm you think a 5% fare increase, lasting a minimum of five years will compensate for a 10% wage increase which is only for one year???

At 7/5/05 11:42 am, Blogger t selwyn said...

No, not really. I'm being stingey as an opening negotiating position. To fit the 5-5-5 gimmick it could have been a 5% increase each of the 5 years - but that undermines the simplicity somewhat as fares would change each year.

The point is it is a method to accommodate the wage increase so the parties will settle, and settle in the interests of the consumers. At present I do not hear that fares will increase beacause of it and I am not sure vis a vis subsidies if the ARC sets the structure for all carriers (not just Stagecoach). They could join the discussions.

I'm looking for some movement. The workers deserve their claim. Stagecoach will have to absorb a profit hit. This is a tool to achieve the former and alleviate the latter.

At 8/5/05 10:35 am, Blogger Nigel Kearney said...

If the passengers agree to a price increase but don't agree to continue catching the bus, they have really given up nothing.

It's a demand disguised as a compromise.

If Stagecoach thought a 5% fare hike would increase their revenues, they would have done it already regardless of the pay demands. They cannot offset higher salary costs with a fare increase unless passengers are somehow prohibited from shifting to other forms of transport.

At 8/5/05 3:40 pm, Blogger t selwyn said...


The best starting points and workable outcomes are usually "demands disguised as compromises." As an irregular cash fare user of buses I would prefer a small rise held for five years, many other bus users I suspect are of the same opinion that is why I am promoting the idea to break the deadlock.

You assume that:
1. Stagecoach have the ability to set fares at whatever price they want.
But: I think the ARC and their subsidies mean they may be legally/contractually bound to offer set fares, set stages etc. to keep the integrity of the overall system that has many operators - as I am unsure I will find out on Monday.
2. A perfect market between alternatives with no transition costs, ie. Passengers will move off the buses if the fares go up.
But: Will car drivers move to the buses if their petrol prices continue upwards? I think that demand for both cars and buses are quite inelastic, viz: Jo motorist would still use their car at $1.40 per litre and $15 parking, and Jo bus passenger would still use the buses at a 10% increase.

Are bus passengers going to go out and get their licences/buy a car just because the fares go up 10%? Especially with petrol prices climbing that would not be sensible. OTOH would a motorist take the bus if they knew the driver wasn't grumpy because they're being paid shite wages and they knew the fares would not increase for 5 years?

We consumers have a rare chance at this point to have our interests recognised (I beleive it is possible). We have the opportunity to have our costs contained for half a decade. This is something of which the motorist can only dream. (Imagine having petrol capped at $1.35/litre for 5 years! - that certainty is worth more than the initial 5-10% increase, I think most motorists and industry would agree.

I will make representations to the relevant authorities on Monday.


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