‘Confident that the industry will succeed’

Returning from Euro Bus Expo and the routeone Awards, CPT President Ralph Roberts turns his attention back to the pressing issues facing the sector

What appeared to be shaping up to be a fairly quiet month has turned into a busy one. We had the sudden resignation and appointment of a new PM, which has resulted in a new Secretary of State for Transport (Mark Harper MP) and a new Buses Minister (Richard Holden MP). What this will mean for our industry remains to be seen, but it was good to see the Buses Minister attend Euro Bus Expo (EBE) in Birmingham to give the keynote address.

Euro Bus Expo

Talking of EBE, it was fantastic to be among industry colleagues again on such a scale. Everyone that I spoke to enjoyed the show and there seemed to be plenty of deals being done. Between that, and a fantastic routeone Awards dinner celebrating the bright stars of our industry, I returned to the office energised for what lay ahead. The only negatives of the trip were the terrible experience at the airport on the way home. A two-hour processing time for security is a long way from being fun, and might have been partly a result of the planned industrial action on the trains that subsequently got cancelled.

I only mention this because travel disruption has a huge effect on people and our industry is not immune to that at the moment. I do have faith that we are dealing with it as well as can be expected, and most senior managers I talk to recount the stress it puts upon our staff. As an industry, we have faced challenging times before, and we will work our way out of this like we have in the past. The worthy recipients of the routeone Awards certainly provide confidence that this will the case.

‘Thank You, Driver’

The Thank You, Driver campaign from the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has been running the last couple of weeks and my own drivers are reporting an uptick in the number of people saying thank you.

This is a side benefit of the campaign, but welcome nonetheless. Yet another sign, as if we needed it, that targeted marketing today has significant bleed over.

Bus stop accessibility

I noted with interest on 18 October that the National Federation of the Blind UK
(NFBUK) handed into No. 10 its petition on the safety and accessibility of bus stops.

As the majority of readers of this excellent publication will be sighted, it will be difficult to understand the enormous challenges that the blind have in negotiating our streets. Add to that, a ‘floating’ bus stop with cycle lanes between the pavement and shelter, and you will imagine how dangerous this can be. The petition calls for a moratorium on the installation of these stops until a solution is found – I wholeheartedly support this activity and I would commend it to you as well.

Scotland funding

As I write, Scottish bus operators are in ‘Transport for London (TfL) style’ last-minute talks with government to try and agree support funding to avoid large scale service cuts. Not one of the best TfL exports, but with CPT at the centre of the talks, I am sure that they will progress as well as can be.

One thing that is abundantly clear from the last month, though, is that a version of austerity will return, and that the coach and bus industry will be able to demonstrate the great value it brings to the economy.