31 October 2008

Out on a limb?

Go North East's managing director Peter Huntley made a speech at the National Transport Conference, in which he highlighted his dissatisfaction with local authorities and politicians. Considering his audience was littered with a large percentage of these people, it was perhaps never going to go down well with them.

He said that whenever his company plans service alterations, they launch a direct consultation with their passengers, rather than enter into discussions with local politicians and authorities. He's quoted as saying, "They are the genuine customers. I am not interested in getting involved with local politicians who know nothing about our product and are only getting involved to score cheap political points".

We suspect that there are local issues at play here, and that whatever has gone on in the north-east has left Go North East's MD particularly annoyed with his local authorities and elected officials.

Let's face it, privately-owned bus operators can operate when and where they want, to whatever frequencies they like; only in very special circumstances can authorities become involved to stop a bus service. Peter Huntley's speech, while coming out-of-the blue (we're not used to such candidness from someone so high-up!), does it actually say anything we didn't already assume?

But once politicians and local authorities stop 'interfering' in the affairs of private bus operators, accountability is then surely lost and it is this accountability that the public like to know authorities have over privatised industries to stop the potential for us all being taken for a ride.