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15 minutes with: Thomas Manship

By The Whisperer

With many years in the coach and bus industry, The Whisperer keeps his ear to the ground for all the latest tit-bits and gossip. Tell him what’s going on in your part of the world: e-mail him via

Thomas Manship, 26, talks about his role as Executive Assistant at Bedfordshire-based Grant Palmer and how he thinks young people can attracted into the industry

Q: How did your career in the bus industry begin?

A: I graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2014 and joined Centrebus as a commercial administrator. In autumn 2017 I relocated to Bedford with my partner, Annie.

Thomas joined Grant Palmer in January last year

Q: What did you study?

A: Geography, which is actually quite a good degree for someone in transport to have. It’s about understanding places and the people around you and that’s pretty much what you do in a bus company.

Q: When did you join Grant Palmer?

A: In January 2018. I help with the commercial side of things and a lot of the marketing. I have now taken a more operations-based role and I oversee the two duty managers to ensure that we have a good service, day in and day out.

Q: What is a typical working day for you?

A: Every day is different. I’m usually on site shortly after 0700hrs. I check how things are doing – the drivers do walk-round checks for the buses, I do one for the depot. I then check everyone’s in, driver-wise, and make sure everyone’s happy and ready to go.

By 0800-0900hrs I can settle down with work, which could be something marketing based, such as service change posters or work on the website. Then it’s just as the day comes. It could be doing busway training or delivering a CPC course. Occasionally I will be out on the roads myself and I provide duty manager support from time to time as well.

Q: What do you enjoy most?

A: The variety of the role and the people I work with. Everyone here works as a team and we all get on really well. Working for a smaller independent operator like Grant Palmer means the chain of command is much shorter. I really enjoy the independence, especially when it comes to marketing and branding – if an idea looks good and it works, we usually go with.

Q: How can operators encourage younger people in the industry?

A: Large groups like Arriva, First and Transdev have excellent graduate schemes, which smaller independents could offer. What you can bring as a new graduate to a family-owned business is a fresh approach, a fresh pair of eyes and a chance for succession. So, there’s loads they can do to reach out to graduates and it doesn’t have to be through a university route. There are apprenticeships and other ways to reach out to young people. I would also love to see a more diverse range of people working in the industry.

Q: Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?

A: Professionally I would like to take on little a bit more responsibility than I have now, and I think that’s one thing Grant Palmer has been very good at giving me in a controlled way. I’d love to own a house with Annie and maybe go travelling for a bit as well.