Multiple Incentives

I’m driving to Enschede tonight to meet up with Laurent Bossavit, who’s in the Netherlands for EuroFoo.

Yesterday, Laurent wrote about Technology, sweet and sour

how he had to pay for WiFi service to notify me about his plane being late. In a sense, it is not in the best interest of airports to let your flight depart on time – the more time you spend on an airport, the more money you spend. For Schiphol Airport, the main source of profit used to be their shopping centre. I don’t know what happened after tax-free disappeared, but I guess not much has changed.

The dutch national railways (NS) have developed this system into a fine art. While punctuality of their trains has dropped to unacceptable levels (that was the main reason I bought a mobile phone, and after that a car several years ago…), they have at the same time turned around many of the medium and larger railway stations into shopping malls, with most of the restaurants and snack-places operated by the NS.

If the train doesn’t go on time, you are more likely to buy coffee or a snack, so the NS make more money on you. So, as a traveler you might be inclined to think that the goal of a railway or airline system is to bring you from A to B as quickly as possible, there might be multiple incentives for the operators, leading to other conclusions…

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