Manchester bus wars

A TRUCE has been declared between GMS buses, a former public company which is now owned by the employees after a £25 million buy-out last March, and Scottish based Stagecoach.

Between Manchester city centre and Hazel Grove, Stockport, one of Manchester’s busiest roads, passengers have become used to a bus arriving every 90 seconds, many offering cut price fares. But the losses in this war have become too high.

The employees of GMS by entering themselves into the capitalist fray found themselves in a war with Stagecoach and in the strange position of trying to drive fellow workers out of work.

The idea that deregulation will offer more choice has been shown to be false. In the short-term major bus routes are saturated to win new customers, but this soon subsides as, in a system run for profit not convenience, profit decides which company survives. In residential areas of Manchester the quality of bus regularity has now reduced it to almost a skeleton service.

Unfortunately workers’ buy-outs find themselves in competition with other ruthless bosses and cannot overcome the cut-throat nature of the market. For that workers need to take over the whole of society.

James Frazer