Monday, 14 March 2011

Competition is the consumer's friend

Mark Perry at the Carpe Diem blog gives this nice example of a simple truth, that competition aids the consumer:

This was probably inevitable. Faced with all of the competition from Bolt Bus, Mega Bus, Chinatown Bus, DC2NY, Vamoose, etc. for cheap bus fares between cities like Washington, D.C. and NYC, the long-time industry leader Greyhound had to match the "predatory" fares and "cutthroat competition" of its new, upstart rivals.

As the graphic above shows, Greyhound is now offering $15 fares between DC and NYC on the Uncommon Transport website, which is less than 50% of the "standard fare" of $35 listed on Greyhound's regular website for DC to NYC. And for a route of approximately the same distance - DC to Charleston, WV (250 miles) - but without the intense competition of the 225-mile DC-NYC route, the one-way Greyhound fare is $109.
The lesson to be taken from this is that competition - even "cutthroat" competition - is the consumer's best friend, and often the best regulator of a market. This latter point often seems to be overlooked in policy circles. Introducing competition regulates a market better than any regulator can.

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