Saturday, 30 January 2016

Skylink Flying High


It's exciting enough that I get to spend a healthy chunk of my time doing network design and commercial planning for trentbarton.  But for an aviation geek like me, when it involves airports as well, the enjoyment level goes off the scale!

Friday, 8 January 2016

What makes a MAN a man?


Amid all the glamour and sparkle of life at the sharp end of the East Midlands bus industry, we've been quietly getting on with a little refurbishment project in the background at TM that is actually one of the most rewarding things we've done.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Access all areas

Despite my best efforts to think of myself as a young, up-and-coming manager, still in the early stages of what will one day prove to be a long and distinguished career, I can't ignore the mounting evidence that I'm getting older.

2016 will mark the twenty fifth anniversary of my arrival in the industry.  I work with people who weren't even born when I first graced the offices of Buffalo Travel in that long hot summer of 1991.  (I have no idea whether it was actually long and hot but I was eighteen and the world was my oyster so that's how I choose to think of it).

The latest damning evidence of my ascension to middle age will arrive at the stroke of midnight tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Star gazing

Photo:  Ray Stenning
One of the landmark moments of my career was the creation of the Bluestar brand in 2004.

Eleven years on, the brand has gone from strength to strength.  Many of the original routes have seen repeated investment in new vehicles and marketing, frequencies have grown and the network has expanded.  Within the last year, an outbreak of intense competition in the Southampton bus network has resulted in the creation of a number of new routes within the city area.  Most recently, a fleet of brand new Enviro 200MMCs - among the first in the country - has been entering service on the busy cross-city Bluestar 18.

Taking advantage of a rare midweek trip back to the south coast, I decided it was time to go for a ride and see how they are protecting my legacy!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Making The Point Beautifully

One of the most absorbing and stimulating blogs around is The Beauty of Transport, written by freelance transport writer Daniel Wright.

In it, he highlights the role of design and architecture in the world of transport, and the relationship between transport and culture.

His articles typically feature detailed descriptions of big transport projects of architectural significance, or analysis of particular examples of art and design - or the artists themselves - and their influence on the world of transport.

It's the best kind of blog, where you head there planning to have a quick look at whatever's new this week and then find yourself clicking on another title that looks interesting, and another, and another, and hours later realise you've been completely absorbed and totally failed to do whatever it was you were planning to do before you decided to just spend a couple of minutes in front of the computer.

That's one of the reasons why I'm a little late bringing you this post.  I've been meaning to do it for a while, but each time I sit down to write it I end up reading more of his older articles and then find I've run out of time.

But two months ago Daniel wrote one article in particular that I want to highlight.  It explains in as clear a fashion as I've ever seen, why good design and branding are important in creating successful, attractive transport systems, and why those of us involved in providing transport should aspire to high standards of design in all that we do, and not settle for bland, mundane, unappealing design that will simply turn off potential users.

You can find the article here.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Rapid response bus stop team

It's not normally my style to name and shame fellow operators publicly, but as I was giving Cardiff Bus and NAT what I hope were largely positive reviews of their services - and they both appear to be doing a good job, let's be clear about that - I didn't feel bad about giving them each a gentle poke in the ribs for one or two things that were not as good as they could be.  But they could have taken exception to my comments.

All credit therefore to Gareth Stevens of Cardiff Bus for a very positive response.  Within 24 hours of my post, he had scrambled the Cardiff Bus rapid response bus stop maintenance team.  The unsightly bus stop flag that I had spotted on my travels was immediately replaced, and here's the evidence:  (Apologies for the poor quality of the photo, which my phone appears to have mangled somewhere during the process)

 
Twelve years have passed since I left the South Wales bus scene, but it's nice to know I can still wield some little influence.  I'm sure the good citizens of Cardiff will be holding street parties to celebrate my efforts on their behalf.  But of course the credit goes to Gareth and his team - it's much appreciated guys!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Cardiff in the rain


One of the more intriguing outbreaks of competition recently in the UK bus industry has been in Cardiff, where the large and growing independent NAT launched a new cross-city route X1 against incumbent Cardiff Bus in May 2015.

The new route was of particular note because NAT acquired ten brand new Optare MetroCity single deckers for its operation - a huge investment in such a speculative new project.  At the time, the Managing Director of NAT Kevyn Jones stated that the new project was a genuine attempt to grow the bus market in Cardiff by providing among other things quality vehicles, new cross-city links, a high frequency including on Sundays and a new link to the western retail area of Culverhouse Cross.

After Cardiff Bus got into rather a lot of trouble last time they tried to fend off competition, there was a great deal of interest in how they would respond to this challenge.  NAT then added further spice to the mixture with their infamous "ride me all day for £3" campaign promoting their day ticket.  And indeed most of the competitive sparring between them seems to have been around pricing and ticketing, with not much apparent sign of Cardiff Bus having made any network changes in response to the new offer.

Using the excuse of Luton Town's visit to Newport County as justification for a weekend in Wales, I braved gale force winds and torrential rain to sample the service today along with a couple of journeys on Cardiff Bus routes around the city.