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First the Worst

If ever you needed a ready and easy example of why privatisation should be avoided and indeed why capitalism should be avoided, then look no further than First. Simply the worst public transport provider imaginable. Their latest stunt beggars all belief, even for them this is a step way too far.

My local jobcentre is a bus journey away on a particular route that used to be provided, from about a decade ago (after a long absence), by council subsidy to a local coach operator. It was a popular service and remained so when First muscled in. Smelling blood in the manner of a shark they create their own route to cover that journey the side effect of which meant that the council had to withdraw because they aren’t allowed (so they tell me) to compete.

Fast forward a few years (First have only been running this route for about 2/3 years) and that route is being changed to use the motorway - completely cutting off the communities along that route toward it’s destination. That being the town that’s home to the Jobcentre. Anyone living here that works in that town would now have to quit their job, which of course creates it’s own set of shit problems. Of course the council now don’t have the money to resurrect their original service; First have come in, muscled out the competition and gutted the service.

The reason they gave me beggars belief: I was expecting some blarney about costs and profits, but apparently people complained the journey was taking too long. Unbelievably First responded not by telling these people to politely stop being selfish and to accept that in order to service everyone in the community a few more minutes would be required. They decided that, presumably to help clean up their wholly toxic public image, it’s better to throw whole communities under the bus (pun intended, with extreme prejudice) foregoing the money they’d make from those passengers, no matter how little they might regard it, just to shave a few minutes off a journey.

There you have it. Local councillors are baffled and angry. I am baffled and angry. Fortunately I’m not compelled to attend the Jobcentre presently, but I chose that one because it’s the least busy. Attending the second nearest centre is no great hardship in terms of public transport (though it’s more expensive, despite First’s ‘fairer fares for all’ consultation last year that resulted in a price increase), but the centre itself is too rough. I don’t like it. I don’t feel safe there, and I hope I don’t have to attend. I doubt First gives a shit though. This is what privatisation creates:decisions made at the expense of the community.


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