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FedS bus vs. Greyhound brouhaha

So the local Greyhound has filed a court case against the undergraduate Federation of Students. The issue is the FedS Bus -- a service which hires yellow school buses to take students home (Toronto, Mississauga, etc) and back each weekend. Greyhound is saying that the FedS are operating a "scheduled service", which for some reason is against the rules (because FedS would have to register the service? The biased articles I have been reading suggest that Greyhound has some kind of legal monopoly, which would be weird).


I have only been following reports from Imprint, the campus paper. Here are the articles:

I am biased in favour of the FedS bus service continuing, even though I am not qualified to use it myself. It's a good service for poor university students. Furthermore, the quality really is not comparable to Greyhound (yellow schoolbuses vs. comfy coaches?). The scheduling is pretty different as well: the FedS buses have only a few trips each week (Fridays and Sundays, usually) while Greyhound has many. The FedS buses also offer direct routes to Mississauga, which Greyhound no longer does (instead the Greyhound speeds right past the main Mississauga bus terminal on its way to Toronto, and you get to take the TTC and Mississauga back. Whee!).

This is pretty clearly an attempt by Greyhound to squash its competition. That makes me pretty mad, but maybe it is fair given that if the FedS avoid being a real bus company they can keep costs down in a way that Greyhound can't. But it's still sneaky, and it really infuriates me when the Greyhound people make statements like this (from the second article):

Storrey offered five rebuttals to the remarks of the Fed Bus team. With respect to the comments on Greyhound's monetary interest, he said "Greyhound's interest is to have unregulated services controlled in the public's interest."

No. No it isn't. Greyhound's interest is to avoid bleeding profits at the expense of students who are willing to take a lesser quality of service to save some bucks. Greyhound does have an interest in controlling unregulated services, but it certainly isn't in the public's interest. The public's interest is to have a diversity of bus services competing with each other. That way prices will go down. Of course, nobody actually wants to live in a free market, which is why groups like Greyhound do whatever they can to manage competition.

This is not some fly-by-night operation where students are smuggled to Mississauga in old pickup trucks. The FedS are hiring real yellow schoolbuses from real yellow schoolbus companies to do the driving. There is no safety issue, and there is probably not even a business issue here.

So, yeah. Go capitalism. Go markets.

If the FedS lose this case maybe they should set up an actual "scheduled" bus service. Prices will go up, but I bet they will still be able to beat Greyhound's rates.

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