Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Saturday 25 October 1986

Can you remember what were you doing on 25th October 1986? For me, this in an emphatic “yes”, rather as I can the day John Lennon was shot. It’s just one of those significant times, like Kennedy, the Twin Towers, and Princess Diana, though not wishing to belittle such world events.

In spite of the crescendo working its way towards the following day, Saturday 25th October was a rare day off, for me. We went to a dinner party in the evening. Among the guests was another industry man and his wife. He and I managed to raise a glass to regulation and then toast deregulation, even though neither of us knew exactly what was in store for us. And it was back to work on Sunday morning. Yes, more preparation on D-Day itself.

We tended to call the pre-October publicly financially supported network something of a “feather bed”. That made it sound as if there was some sort of extravagant funding available to prop us up should we become profligate. But actually, pre-October it seemed to us that the authority would never give us as much as we needed, even if it was more than they could afford. Now, though, matters were soon to be in our own hands. We were on our own. I greatly enjoyed Saturday 25th October. I can’t say I enjoyed the days that followed as much, even if there was a sense of freedom.

6 comments:

Matt said...

Seven London routes were one-manned on 25/10/86, including ones as important as the 24. Deregulation may have been about to wreak its damage on the industry, but London was in the midst of its own problems.

busing said...

Thanks Matt for the reminder that not everything 20 years ago revolved around the provinces.

More on the 24 here:

http://omnibuses.blogspot.com/2006/04/iconic-route_28.html

Matt said...

It was all interconnected; it wasn't as if London could escape the repercussions of deregulation. At the time it was still expected that London would be deregulated at some point. The cessation of yearly orders once L 263 had been delivered started to impact on manufacturers immediately - notably ECW; meanwhile the availability of mid-life buses once patronage plunged in the big cities allowed the small firms to undercut LBL, allowing fares and conditions to stagnate.

I wish deregulation hadn't happened - to me, there were less extreme ways of reforming a flawed system, and the regular passenger eventually lost out as much as did the industry and the frontline staff.

Keep 'em coming - these pieces are excellent.

Anonymous said...

Speaking from the provinces deregulation was probably the very best thing that could've happened (in my area at least)- prior to 1986 the County Councils were aimlessly presiding over a total decline, (often diverting scarce resources from popular routes to appease politically motivated supporters on routes where ridership was appochryphal...resulting in further all-round decline) - Not sure where the numbers game leads us twixt then and now, but certainly where I sit, frequency and ridership on most key corridors has vastly increased...and if a few socially desirable but journey-dubious deep country services have helped pay the price then that's sadly the price of breaking out from an admittedly tough demographic chicken and egg progression...

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