Prasa to face Competition Tribunal on charges of abusing its dominance
CAPE TOWN – The Competition Commission has referred the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and its long-distance bus subsidiary, Autopax, to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution for abusing its dominance, and charging for instance, a 460 percent annual increase to another bus operator to use Park Station in Johannesburg.
The Commission received separate complaints concerning the Pay-on-Use system as well as access at Park Station, from bus operators African People Mover, Moolla’s Transport Services, Intercape, Eagle Liner, and Eldo Coaches, between March 2017 and July 2019. An investigation was launched.
The Commission found that Prasa was charging excessive prices to the bus operators for the use of Park station. It also found that Prasa favoured Autopax in space allocation, and had restricted or denied access to other Park Station bus operators.
Prasa is the owner and manager of intermodal terminal facilities in South Africa including Park Station, which is an intermodal facility in Gauteng connecting different modes of transport to many passengers.
The referral to the Tribunal, with a recommendation that Prasa desist from uncompetitive behavior and pay a 10 percent fine on its turnover, could not have come at a worse time. Prasa generated revenue of R13.7 billion in its 2018/19, but expenses came to R15.5bn.
Autopax was one of the reasons for the poort results, with poor bus and passenger service utilisation rates, breakdowns and late departures, negative customer experiences and increased competition, as cited in Prasa’s annual report, the main reasons for Autopax’s poor performance.
“Prasa’s intermodal terminal facilities are indispensable to long distfance bus operators and to passengers as they enable passengers to safely and seamlessly connect to different modes of transport at a single location. There is no alternative intermodal terminal facility in Johannesburg,” the commission said in a statement on Monday.
In addition, Prasa competes with long-distance bus operators through Autopax, which operates two bus services – Translux and City to City.
The interprovincial operating licence requires long distance bus operators to secure access to terminal facilities. Long distance bus operators, apart from Autopax, provide an unsubsidised bus transportation service – the cost of access to an intermodal terminal facility is important to them.