Stagecoach…echos from the past…..

From David Jones
Now was it Four, Five, even Six years ago, more? Do you know its gone that quickly that it seems a distant blur, anyway, our carriers Stagecoach like many others across the UK (who lets face it, started from very humble beginnings as a small coach company, way way back, decades even) went hand in hand (should I say went courting hand in hand) with our ‘then’ UK Government under Tony Blair, to join them in ‘New Start’ was it? something like that. So many of similar names everyone gets confused, nevertheless,…join in a new initiative to help the many unemployed get to interviews and subsequently back to work.

At least that was the theory, and insodoing, it would help reduce the ever increasing cost of fares blamed on the rising price of oil, which one year saw price hikes in Spring and Autumn and then the following New Year! A bit of a helping hand for those who genuinely needed it you may think! Also a helpful smokescreen to the cries of ‘dodgy dealing’ in futures buying of fuel, mind you, always bury bad news and all that?

Basically anyone across the whole Country who was eligible for Jobseekers Allowance – otherwise known as the Dole – could apply. The Jobcentre supplied the paperwork and they, the claimants, a passport photo. Once stamped and approved, it enabled all to get what simply was a (kids fares) half price on a Single Fare only. Why not a return? Returns are cheaper! Not for Stagecoach….ah!

You see, the then DoE reimbursed the difference of the published fare, so it’s maths. Two singles means more back than one return. They apply the same principle to the ‘over 60’s bus pass’. So far, they, Stagecoach, have got one Department doing the paperwork for free, and another Department paying more back than they would were it a reasonable cheaper return, ‘double bubble’ plus, you’ve got the Government encouraging ‘claimants’ to more interviews as well! It’s a gift, and it’s Tax Payers money,  least we forget! Then again other operators were doing this as well, doing their bit for the Country, but hey, if it gets Britain moving and help solve what seems to be an ever present problem, then that’s the price we pay!

So then, were there vast hoards of the unemployed clambering on buses at the drop of a hat for cheap fares all over the Country, no! To many it helped vastly on a weekly basis giving back much needed funds from a meager benefit eroded by the cost of living and relentless cut backs, yes cut backs even then, but a bus is a bus and represents the only form of transport available throughout the social fabric of the nation for many.

The scheme trundled along for a fair time, but something was stirring in the heads and through a combination of statistics (which they supplied) on take-up, the increases in fuel, and cost effectiveness, a decision was taken to cancel the initiative.

So you would think ‘they’ the great Stagecoach….. carrier of millions…. would give advance and fair warning of the impending demise, just as they do when they hike the fares…….think again! When considered against my previous slagging off, either action should come as no surprise. However, it’s not just me. It’s felt by different folks for different reasons across the Country. Stagecoach this Stagecoach that, couldn’t give a fig!, where’s their senses, their duty of care…don’t they have any morals?

Add your own for good measure, try and tell them! and their not interested! Complain…they make it so hard there is no prescribed form to do so online, even on twitter…where are the tweets? One @stagecoachbuses is locked out unless your approved. Consider entering #stagecoach and you can see ‘exactly’ what people think.

So here we have it, is this a company which has got where it is by running a close line in cheating the public? One that pays service or believes that PR was their property by divine right? Or, as they’ve run most of their competitors off the road by fair means or foul, they can by that dint of ‘force majure’ ignore all before them? The choice as they say, is yours!

If it’s that’s not blackmail by another means then please tell me what is?

So when it actually came to cancelling it there was only one way to do it. Don’t tell anyone! Confused managers at various Jobcentres knew nothing, nor did hundreds of Drivers, even the DoE knew nothing. As for the people who mattered, the bus users, they got a good old fashioned sweet FA.

This therefore has got be a campaign against indolence, apathy, greed, and sheer bloody-mindedness. I’m David Jones give us a tweet @DAVIDJONES_dpaj , tweet your friends get them to re tweet (RT) and stagecoach as well. Let’s see it trending, lets see Stagecoach change their tune or get off the road.


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