this report considers the economics of stage carriage operation by private bus and coach companies. a fares comparison carried out in two traffic areas showed that in 1978 the mean fare charged on rural and inter-urban stage services run by private operators was 25 per cent less than that charged on similar services provided by public operators for a wide range of journey lengths. given comparable levels of revenue support the difference might have been 30-40 per cent. between 1974 and 1978 the fare gap between the two types of operator appeared to have been widening. other economic analysis indicated that private operators' lower fares stemmed largely from lower unit costs, rather than higher loadings or other possible sources. past trrl work suggests that at least some of these lower unit costs are likely to derive specifically from the nature of private companies, namely small working units without commitment to supply extensive stage networks.(a)

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