Friday, 27 October 2006

For Those Under 40

The last of the five current articles on deregulation...

This post is actually dedicated to those too young to remember D-Day at deregulation’s birth. I suppose this is anyone under 40. They must rely on others to give an account of the period. Studying history can make it become very real but rarely is it a substitute for being there. And just who believes it happened, years down the line? There are those who would distort history and even those who deny certain events. As an extreme, remember David Irving’s views on the holocaust, in February this year?

Other than those involved, who today believes the frenetic time those in the industry had, on the one hand registering a commercial network in February & in planning for October, and on the other, preparing to take on their own businesses from the state or corporation?

Looking back, how stressful it all was. First, you had to understand what the law was demanding of you, quite difficult for those brought up in a regulated environment lasting over 50 years. Secondly, it was imperative to get a viable network registered by February. No guesswork, please. Long hours and much head scratching, without the now essential electronic ticket machines and the data therefrom. It often meant couriering the registrations to the traffic area office at the last moment. The October network was only part of it, though. The network was stuck till January 1987 and, surprise, it was all change again. And more work.

Yet, for some in the industry, registering a viable network was something of a side-show, compared to the process of structural change. If with a National Bus Company subsidiary, for some it was privatisation rather than deregulation that took up time, writing and re-writing bids, top level meetings, seeking finance and backers, looking over your shoulder for prospective purchasers.

If in a municipal, there was the whole business of establishing an arm’s length company, not lightly undertaken; and if a PTE, that too, and the fact that the PTEs themselves needed reconstituting, given that the controlling metropolitan county councils were abolished the same year.

It’s a wonder the entire industry didn’t collapse with corporate nervous exhaustion. Ah, but we were all twenty years’ younger back then! And we have no scars to prove any of this happened. But believe me, it did.

1 comment:

cogidubnus said...

Ah and the endless restructurings (and the forever present fear of losing our jobs) as we were all slimmed down and (often more than once)sold on down the line...I was technically redundant three times between 1986 and 1990 (and in the latter two cases was a "sole survivor")...traumatic times if you had a young family and skills which could be marketed only by extensive (and expensive) travel...

With regard to the scars, (or lack of), I think I can attribute a lined forehead and distinct lack of hair to that period....does that count?