David (Bus) v. Goliath (Train)

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

I recently covered here the Deutsche Bundesbahn’s troubles this year with operating their trains satisfactorily in extreme-ish weather, both hot and cold. But – How could I forget? – there has always been a bigger problem with the German trains, one that shows its ugly face year-round: they’re damned expensive! Now, anyone familiar at all with transportation and/or public-sector economics will have already known about this, whether s/he has ever travelled on the Bundesbahn or not, for this is an affliction shared by most public monopoly transportation systems requiring substantial prior capital investment (therefore also e.g. for city public transport systems): since it’s generally messy and often even politically unpopular to play the Grinch and show any resistance to escalating wage-demands from unions representing the labor required to keep these systems running, the costs and therefore ticket-prices inevitably rise higher than the rate of inflation. For myself, then, as much as I otherwise like the German trains, I tend to only travel on them as a result of some special offer and/or early booking which offers considerable savings. (more…)

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