9 of the Third Month 5769
Yesterday at the Tel-Aviv central bus station, I noticed that my transportation to Netanyah would be handled by a company other than Egged, Netiv Express (Hebrew). It seems that this company is now handling traffic in and out of Tzfat, Nahariah, Ma'aloth, Haderah and Karmi'el, among others. It has been handling the Tel-Aviv - Netanyah traffic since March 15, but has actually been in operation since 2001, beginning with Tzfat - Netanyah and Haderah - Netanyah routes.
Does the added competition make a difference? Are these other companies any better? Is Egged shaping up its service, so that it does not lose anymore tenders, or are all of the bus companies just wheeling and dealing, and conducting business as usual?
Rafi at Life In Israel has already told us about the handling of much of the traffic in and out of Beth Shemesh by Superbus, and the service it provides.
The first thing I noticed about Netiv Express was that it was early. Well, my regular 148 Egged bus also arrives consistently early. But, the next thing I noticed was that my trip was cheaper than before, four sheqqels ($1.00) cheaper. Everything else seemed about the same as Egged, except that I have yet to see an old Netiv Express bus. The lower price seemed to be the only difference.
Cellular phone companies have had competition for years. Have you found that to make a difference in service? Some of the companies have tried to reach out to specific communities, such as Cellcom to Haredim, and Orange and MIRS to "settlers." Now that we Israelis are able to keep our phone numbers, even if we change companies, we have one less obstacle to change cell phone companies. For my part, I am just too lazy. But, plenty of friends have already gone back and forth between companies, doing research and trying to get their current companies to beat competing offers. (Of course, some will tell you that there is secret regulation among the various companies. I don't have proof of that one way or another.)
With the HOT cable company offering ground line phone and Internet services, in addition to cable TV, some have reported improved service,... when they have switched over from Bezeq, that is. The Bezeq phone company still does not seem to have its capitalistic act together. Although it is running around trying to do so. With HOT half-way through the Shomron, several of my neighbors have received calls from Bezeq offering them special rates if they sign a commitment plan of a year and a half to three years. The smart ones have said no to Bezeq's crappy antenna-based service, and waiting for HOT which should arrive to Tapu'ah within a year. (Additional towns? I don't know.)
When I bought fan at a factory style store, a couple of years ago in Jerusalem, I noticed something odd. The saleslady, who had excellent product knowledge, gave her employee number to the cashier. I asked her if she got a commission on my fan. She said yes, to which I responded that it was about time. She told me that it was about year since she had heard about such a thing, elaborating that it boosts employee motivation by offering an incentive. She was acting as if this was some great new economic invention. I didn't have the heart to tell her that it was nothing new, and that any American "fresh off the plane" could have have explained the benefits of offering commissions.
So, there is competition among the phone companies, between some workers, and increasingly more competition among the bus companies. Does it really make much of a difference in price or in service?