Sunday, February 03, 2008

Don't ride Stagecoach

The public transport company Stagecoach, including one of its brandnames Magic Bus, dominate the student-heavy Oxford Road bus route in Manchester. Unfortunately Stagecoach isn't a nice friendly company providing low-cost, environmentally-friendly public transport that students might assume, as it is owned by a man named Brian Souter. Brian Souter is well-known for donating between £500,000 and £1,000,000 to run a corrupt polling exercise in his (failed) attempt to stop the repeal of Section 28, a homophobic piece of legislation which, among other things, set back over 10 years attempts to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.

In addition, Stagecoach's employees appear to have a culture of homophobia, with a gay couple being thrown off a bus in Aberdeen and a gay employee in Manchester recently made complaints about anti-gay comments going unchallenged by senior staff. Queer Up North have called for a boycott of the company until the company's behaviour changes.

Not only does Stagecoach have a shameful attitude towards LGBT people, but Brian Souter paid himself over £1m in bonuses last year despite the massive rises in fare prices (usually blamed on "rising oil prices"). The company is a disgrace and people should avoid it as much as possible.

For students on the Oxford Road corridor, Finglands is 10p cheaper per single. It is also possible to get a free ride between the Royal Infirmary and North Campus (a short walk from the city centre). Please avoid Stagecoach, and join the group on Facebook calling for a boycott.


John Abrams said...

The problem is Chris they have a monopoly in Greater Manchester!

Jock Coats said...

Nearly ten years ago now I organized a Section 28 vigil in Oxford and the Oxford student trots decided to block all the Stagecoach buses trying to get out of town, which of course merely blockaded the Oxford Bus Company ones stuck behind, pissed off all the commuters and lost us lots of sympathy for a few days.

Suter is a bigotted bastard. As is the power behind his throne, the sister Ann Gloag (she of the case recently against ramblers crossing her castle estate). But I have to say that whilst I personaly do tend to try to boycott them still, I don't believe for a minute that the general culture of the staff is homophobic notwithstanding whatever isolated incidents you may have heard reported. As a result of that action in Oxford a decade ago we had lots of their staff expressing support and their union branch too. In fact I'd lay money that many of the drivers on our university contract which is with Stagecoach (hiss, spit and despite protests at the time the contract was up for grabs) are themselves gay or lesbian.

Boycott them by all means (we at least have a choice on most routes in Oxford) but don't take it out on the ordinary staff members is all I would say!