(It has just dawned on me that the four Seasonal Area posts before this one have all had different styles for announcing the month.)
Anyway, the new Seasonal Area page is Online. This means a nice new picture for the sidebar and an opportunity for those with really small monitors to naughtily nab a new desktop background. It was taken last year the day after a night out with friends – so I got out rather late in the afternoon but have some fond memories linked to the image.
Meanwhile I have spent the afternoon arguing with my printer and its ink cartridges. The printer is being a trifle awkward at the moment. The result is my hands now look like I have some ‘orrible black fungus, but it should wear off over the next couple of days…
Alongside this I have, apropos of not very much, been glancing at First Group’s financial returns for last year. Assuming they’re typical of the industry, anyone who reckons the private sector is ripping off public transport should be making rather more noise about the bus companies. First has a profit margin of 13% on their bus operations. The rail side barely makes 5%.
For some reason, where I’ve had a chance to compare, bus fares are higher than rail ones. This generally bears little resemblance to the amount of subsidy either side has obtained. When it comes to the final bottom line, however, rail tends to be the longer-distance and therefore higher-value industry, so the ultimate profits for First are broadly similar on both sides.
Interestingly, buses are deemed to compete with cars and other buses while trains compete with the private car. First does not consider their bus and rail operations to be in competition with each other. Then again, why should I be puzzled by this? My experience of them working side by side is from being at university in Falmouth, where buses to Truro take twice as long as the trains and cost twice as much…