Kiwi Polemicist

September 16, 2008

Buses: a bizarre blend of Socialism and Capitalism

Bus drivers in Auckland are giving these cards to passengers at present, and in my humble opinion this is quite bizarre.

Companies will often have some sort of ‘giveaway’ to try and attract customers; that is a characteristic of the free market. I just can’t figure out why a bus company with a monopoly over many routes is running the sort of lottery that is usually designed to attract more customers.

NZ Bus might argue that they’re trying to increase patronage, but this lottery is being run during off-peak hours, which have the highest percentage of captive users (they’re not chained to the bus, it means that their transport options are feet and bus). As for optional users, winning an iPod is hardly likely to increase their usage of buses: meaningful improvements in quality of service is what it takes.

So, we have a bus company with a publicly-funded monopoly over many routes running a lottery, presumably to attract more passengers, and that lottery is only available at the times when captive users are most likely to be using the buses. As a business proposition this flies about about as well as a dead duck.

I would like to know if the cost of this promotion (168 iPods and thousands of cards) is being borne by the taxpayer, so I have invited NZ Bus to respond to this post.

Giving away iPods to passengers on a taxpayer-funded bus service is a bizarre combination of apparently capitalist behaviour within a socialist structure and typifies New Zealand very well.

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