Splitting Melbourne's railways and tramways into two competing companies and then privatising them was a rather odd idea. Chickens seemed to come home to roost when one company who owned the operating lease for half of the trams and half of the trains bolted back to the land of fog and rain.
The government subsidy for the singly owned trains and trams has continued to rise massively. Well before privatisation of our fixed rail public transport, my mind had huge problems with the subsidy that went toward private buses. It was cheaper than the government providing the service, 'they' argued.
I am unsure why it has not really occurred to me before, but think of the huge duplication of providers when say the trains were split in two. Two payroll companies, two or more train maintenance companies, two lots of head office staff, two complaint handling offices. The full list would be very long, and yet it was supposed to be more efficient, provide better service and save money. If I have learnt something in life, a square peg does not fit into a round hole and nor do two square pegs fit into a round hole.
Competition was another reason given. Haha, it is almost laughable. One tram company having east west routes and the other north south routes. Ha, I don't like that tram company, I will use the other one. I will have to drive to other companies tram route to use it though. The spin doctors worked hard on this one, but there was a basic truth. As a customer, you did not have an option. Ditto trains.
Pre privatisation, trams and trains seem to be designed with the user in mind along with efficiency. The last government bought train, the Comeng is brilliant for passengers and I expect so for drivers. Extra nice after their renovations. The last government bought tram, the artic B class is great too. Smooth, quiet, comfortable and air conditioned. The same company supplied Sydney with disabled friendly trams. I have ridden in them and they are very good.
Instead the companies, probably at the then government's behest, bought cheap and nasty European trams and while the trains aren't bad, there are issues.
I am probably wasting my time here and preaching to the converted. Pause here while I blast away ex premier Kennet with a Kalishnikov.
But here is the real point. We are promised effiency by the private sector. The privatised public transport system shows that it it is not necessarily so. There is no inherent reason why government owned and managed public transport can not be efficiently run. I think in parts it was was pretty poor in the past, but that is not a reason why it can not be done now. Good management equals a good business, private or public.