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May 15 2019
By Jessamy Chapman

The force for good: Operators laud
‘fantastic’ Album conference in Cardiff

Last week’s Association of Local Bus Managers (Album) Conference in Cardiff has been hailed a “fantastic” success by attendees.

Cynthia Ogbonna, MD of Cardiff Bus, introduced the conference

With the theme of ‘The Bus as a Force for Good’, the conference was hosted by Cardiff Buses.

Cynthia Ogbonna, Cardiff Buses’ MD, introduced the conference by saying: “We are coming out of the shadow of other modes of transport.”

On the impact on the bus industry of the likes of Uber and other disruptive technology, she said: “The additional private hire and delivery vehicle journeys these lifestyle changes generate add to congestion, and congestion makes it harder for bus operators to maintain schedules, retain the loyalty of our customers and sustain the morale of our dedicated employees.

“We can guarantee to get our customers to their destinations but it is hard for us to operate totally reliable timetables – that must be our objective.”

On the ‘climate emergency’ declared by the Welsh Government last week, shortly followed by the House of Commons, she said: “While the bus is a vital tool in the fight against climate change, we face many challenges before we can fully address that mission.”

On the impact of population increases on the bus industry, she said: “New housing is being designed around public transport, with the council’s aim being at least a 50% share of public transport use by those living there.

“We welcome and well understand the opportunities for our network being part of an integrated public transport system for our capital city in the future – yet the bus offers more sustainable travel right now.

“Our industry truly is a force for good.”

She also questioned how the bus industry can “fulfil the potential of the bus as a force for good”.

She said: “Cardiff Bus – like many other Album members – has embraced technological change to retain and grow the loyalty of our customers.

“We’ve introduced contactless payment and other innovative payment methods and we’ve deployed systems – such as social media and our mobile app – to improve access to reliable information.

“We want to work with all the technology suppliers here today to make the bus the most attractive form of transport.”

The conference took place over three days. Its speakers included Senior Traffic Commissioner Richard Turfitt on the subject of regulation; the Department for Transport’s Catriona Henderson on legislation, local authorities and partnership; Transport Focus CEO Anthony Smith on achieving passenger growth; and Meera Rambissoon from the TAS Partnership on mental health being a barrier for passengers.

Welsh Minister Ken Skates, Claire Haigh of Greener Journeys, Ray Stenning of Best Impressions, John Clarfelt of Ticketer, ADL’s Keith Watson and BYD’s Michael Kerslake also spoke.

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