Our train and tram companies get fined by the government if their service is inadequate, that is too many trains/trams running late or cancelled. If the figures drop below certain levels, then passengers are entitled to compensation, costing the companies even more. That so few claim compensation indicates to me that the system to claim is too difficult. Now we have Myki, compensation can be automatically credited to each person's Myki card. I am not holding my breath for that one, but I do feel some glee when I hear one of the companies gets fined.
How does the government fining public transport companies benefit passengers? It could be argued that it is an incentive for the companies to improve their service. Most of the problems for the train service come from government owned infrastructure. The train company and the tram company have both put a lot of work into improving our fixed rail public transport and the improvements have been noticeable.
But Metro, the train company, cannot be blamed for such poor train infrastructure over which they have no control, or Yarra Trams which is at the mercy of Vic Roads, can be blamed overly much. At best they can mitigate to get around basic ongoing problems.
Stripping money from them by way of fines so they have less to spend does not seem a good idea, just as I think reducing funding to under performing public hospitals is not a good idea.
Am I being too generous to the private operators of our public transport? Maybe.
Take a look at the Potter's Bar rail crash in England.
The rail infrastructure company had pleaded guilty at St Albans Crown
Court in Hertfordshire to breaching health and safety regulations which
led to a high-speed train derailing at a faulty set of points.
Judge Bright and some of the bereaved families highlighted the fact
that, as NR (National Rail) is a not-for-dividend company with no shareholders, any fine
for NR would have to be paid from what the judge said was "an income
which is substantially derived from public funds".
Thatcher did leave many legacies, and not a good ones.
(this post is getting a bit stale, better publish it)