03 June 2009

The best just got worse

Last month, 'Banshee' brought us a world exclusive. This month he brings us news that sees what we consider to be the best transport industry publication make a very disappointing decision about its product.

There are quite a few bus industry magazines on offer to operators and enthusiasts; some are free, others carry an annual fee that equates to a little over a pound per issue. All are distributed weekly. The rail industry has a couple of its own, plus magazines that tick both enthusiast and industry boxes - such as RAIL, and finally those produced for the mass enthusiast markets alone, such as BUSES and Railways Illustrated, to name but two.

Transit, however, is an industry publication that - as this blog so eloquently put it last year - emulates a broadsheet newspaper in both its physical appearance and content. It covers both heavy and light rail industries and that of the bus and coach. It is produced less frequently than its bus/coach counterparts, being fortnightly. The price is also more expensive, too - £95 p/a.

For those of us who operate our own bus or coach business, it really is the best publication to take; indeed, if you had money for only one magazine, in my opinion put your £95 to good use and opt for Landor Publishing's Transit.

However, in my opinion, the balance has just altered in favour of the other industry magazines. Transit - 6 months after its £17 p/a price rise - has been reduced to one edition per month and been re-named New Transit. A piece was carried in its last fortnightly edition (15 May) on the front page that brought the news to readers, though categorically no mention was made that New Transit would replace the current Transit and that the number of editions produced annually would be cut in half, with no equivalent drop in annual fee.

The LEYTR - like numerous subscribers - pay for private copies, or 'home subs' as opposed to bus and train operators whose subscription comes from their respective company coffers. It seems a very poor show to cut back publications by 50% with no physically notification stating this and to then offer no refund. A bitter after-taste is left when those long-term subscribers saw the price rise last December - perhaps in readiness for this drop in production?

Landor say that from hereon in, New Transit subscribers will be granted un-metered access to their online news website and archive, TransportXtra.com, which is updated daily. They've not said this but I expect it to be the case that the monthly New Transit magazines will be larger in size and contain more news stories and articles; whether this will be a moral 50% more is another question - I suspect not.

Personally, I am the first to read my company's copy, and I do so on the train to work. Another colleague reads the copy second-hand during his half-hour away from his desk. Many people who take an industry magazine do so to enable them to catch up with industry news when they want it, i.e. not having to do so at their computer screen in between each monthly publication. It is a step in the wrong direction and I cringe every time I read the 'press release' on the front page of the most recent Transit magazine that promotes the new venture with gusto aplenty.

Imagine if your local bus service increased your return fare to town by 21% and 6 months later cut the frequency in half. If you felt strongly enough about it you'd travel to work by some other means. Landor Publishing, however, have our cash - some companies (including mine) pay three-yearly - and have chosen to do precisely the analogy above. I've complained to them on behalf of my company and have received an extension to my company's subscription by a year. The LEYTR Editors have successfully received a free subscription to Landor's sister publication Local Transport Today.

If you're a Transit subscriber, and either do not know that your subscription is now for 50% fewer copies or are thinking about the best option for you, I suggest contacting Landor, making them aware how dissatisfied you are with their enforced cut in publication and to ask what they plan on doing about it. ('Banshee')