The people who own Croydon Tramlink reckon TfL has cost them 8 million passengers over the past four years. How? TfL reduced bus fares. Tramtrack Croydon's argument goes that since bus fares were reduced, people switched from the tram to the bus. So, whose side should we be on?
On the left hand you might think that since Tramtrack Croydon is a private consortium profiteering from the provision of a public service, tough shit, deal with it. Londonist has first-hand experience of the Croydon Tramlink and the number of people we see evading the rare fare inspections with consummate ease makes us wonder whether we're mugs for shelling out a quid for each journey on a conductor-free system. We're sure Tramtrack could find some more pennies tucked away in the fare-evading sofa.
However, on the right hand you could say that it was the state control in the form of TfL that led to this situation. Since 2000, TfL has been responsible for setting both bus and tram fares and it apparently reduced bus fares to the extent that tram fares (the ones being paid) were uncompetitive.
The main issue this story highlights is the obvious lack of coordination of London's transport system, despite (or maybe because of) the efforts of bodies such as TfL. Recent governments have done Londoners no favours with the introduction of private firms into the public arena. How can we ever hope for a decent integrated system when we have myriad interests to keep happy?
Passengers Customers may be the most important stakeholders but they do not appear to be the most influential.