Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Bus Services PR Game

When are direct bus services from the airport to tourist resorts not direct bus services from the airport to tourist resorts? Answer: when the regional government which dreamt up the scheme for direct bus services determines otherwise.

There seems to be precious little sympathy for the taxi drivers, but neither they nor the government is coming out of this affair with a great deal of credit, and where the government is concerned, it has moved the goalposts from what was originally said. This was that there would be direct bus services to the resorts, an intention which no longer holds good. When the director-general for transport, Jaume Mateu, let it be known that these services will be stopping in "pueblos" with 15,000 or more inhabitants, it was a further red rag to the taxi driver bull. He didn't actually specify which these pueblos will be, but they certainly include Inca and Manacor, because that much is known. Which other ones? Llucmajor along the route to Cala d'Or?

President Armengol, arguing earlier this week that citizens in certain towns have the right to a good system of public transport, referred to Sa Pobla and Son Servera, neither of which have populations of 15,000. So how does this marry with what Mateu has said? It doesn't, and the impression being given is that the government is making things up on the hoof. Initially, there was never any mention of there being stops anywhere other than in the resorts. Had this been decided but not revealed? Or have these additional stops been added as a way of getting the public more on the government's side (the public in the relevant pueblos, that is)?

These bus services are therefore becoming new bus routes, simple as that. In which case, why - and the taxi drivers have asked the question - aren't they going to operate all year? And one wonders how feasible these services are in terms of serving both residents and tourists. Assuming, for example, the service which starts at Cala Bona fills up, then what happens to the residents of Manacor who might be waiting to be whisked off to the airport?

Improvisation is what one perceives, and improvisation in the name of winning the PR game against the taxi drivers, who do themselves few favours by trotting out some of the arguments they do with precisely the same PR aim. They are appealing to a public that may hold anti-hotelier sentiments (and this public is sizable) by suggesting that the hoteliers are implicated with the introduction of the services. It was said that the bus services are a government way of placating hoteliers as it will compensate hotels for the tourist tax. What!? By way of explanation, this is because hotels will save some money because of the bus services. While hotels do incur some cost with transfers, the notion that this has all been set up to appease them is frankly ridiculous.

One of the most sensible observations amidst an increasingly nonsensical situation has come from Bartolomé Deyà of the university's tourism faculty. There are tourist customers for everyone - buses, taxis, transfers - and the bus and taxi markets are different. Amen.

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