There’s no room for error where coach and bus maintenance is concerned, and in the coach world repair and maintenance contracts with dealers are popular. Tim Deakin looks at Scania’s package, which is focused on the customer.New coaches are ever more complicated as Euro 6 takes hold. While in the past it was feasible for an operator to perform maintenance in-house, an increasingly popular option is to leave this to the manufacturer’s local dealership.Such repair and maintenance (R&M) packages are often standard on new coaches, and broadly speaking they transfer responsibility for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance to the dealership closest to the customer.Scania is among those who promote an R&M offering, particularly to retail customers. The majority of the coaches it sells on a retail basis come with R&M as standard, and it has also been specified by several fleet customers, including National Express operators and Terravision.R&M includes all servicing for O-Licence requirements, repairs and acceptable wear-and-tear on the whole vehicle, excluding glass, tyres and damage. Chassis, running units and the body, including the air-conditioning unit and the toilet, are all dealt with by the dealer.Scania’s whole line-up of PCVs is covered, and in the coach sector that range consists of OmniExpress, Touring and Irizar-bodied chassis. Scania supplies parts for the Irizar body via its own network, and has done since the combination was introduced over two decades ago. OmniExpress and Touring are complete Scania vehicles. Comes as standardâ€œFrom a retail point of view, every new coach is offered as standard with an inclusive repair and maintenance package that ends after either two years or 180,000km,â€ says Martin West, Retail Sales Manager â€“ Bus and Coach.But it’s flexible, particularly in terms of predicted mileage. â€œWe talk to operators about their circumstances. We can bolt blocks of additional mileage onto the package if required at a cost of 250 for each additional 20,000km, and we can also offer unlimited mileage if required.â€œWe can also extend the package up to seven years, and the operator can receive a price for that at the time of initial quote for the vehicle,â€ says Martin. Equally, it can be extended during the course of the standard two-year coverage, or at the end.As part of the R&M offering, the coach can be serviced at any of Scania’s dealers in the UK. That’s useful for operators whose vehicles are often away from base, allowing inspections to take place during down time on a holiday tour, for example.More tailoring of the package is possible. As standard, it covers equivalent UK parts and labour rates when abroad, but full European coverage including prevailing rates is available for an additional sum.European coverage also permits servicing during otherwise idle time when on tour. â€œUnder European cover, up to 25% of a coach’s servicing can be done abroad,â€ adds Martin. â€œThe package is built around the customer’s home dealer, but they can also take advantage of all 90 dealers in the UK, and 900 in Europe if required.â€There’s often an underlying opinion among coach and bus operators that dealers are set up primarily to deal with trucks, and that coaches and buses are an afterthought. That’s not the case for Scania, says Mark Oliver, Bus and Coach Fleet Sales General Manager.â€œWe cover coaches, buses and trucks on our dealer training courses.â€œAll our dealers look after coach and bus, and as such a lot of people are unaware that specific elements relating to coaches and buses are integrated into a vast number of Scania’s dealer training courses.â€œOperators can be assured in most situations that there is parts availability for coach and bus at any dealer, either off-the-shelf or via same-day or next-day delivery from our central warehouse in Milton Keynes.â€ Building experienceScania realises that its dealer technicians are, in the main, likely to see many more trucks than coaches or buses, and this was at the forefront of its mind when it introduced the R&M package in 2006.By handling more PCV work, it allows engineers already trained on them to gain experience and become more familiar with working with the models. That’s a virtuous circle, and it has been paying off ever since.â€œIt also allows operators to build relationships with the local dealer by taking the coach in every few weeks,â€ says Martin. â€œWe’re 10 years down the line with our R&M, and as a coach and bus supplier we have also worked to build our own relationships with dealers. R&M has enabled us to forge strong ties with the entire network.â€That’s not to say Scania is resting on its laurels. Its coach and bus team continues to work to raise its profile in the dealer network, which at the same time has come round to realise that the PCV sector provides it with a significant opportunity for business if relationships are strong.More recently, Scania has instigated a rigid policy to further build relationships between itself, the dealer network and coach operators.When an order is placed, the local dealer receives a letter from the Scania salesman with full details. As the point of delivery approaches, this engagement steps up a level. â€œThe salesman, dealer and customer will meet and talk about the coach, and all dialogue is based on the operator’s expectations,â€ says Martin.â€œEverybody then knows each other; the relationship is already building. That gives confidence to the customer and ourselves, and the dealer knows what it is expected to deliver.â€Scania also conducts a post-sale visit to the customer for every new coach or bus sold, and where R&M is part of the package, this is covered during the meeting to ensure the operator’s expectations have been met. Results are fed back to Scania management for analysis and continual improvement. Thorough back-upScania’s R&M package includes a level of insurance in the name of delivering complete back-up.â€œWe have a Max 24 promise, where, subject to the nature of the failure, we say that if we can’t fix the vehicle within 24 hours, we’ll provide a financial contribution for another coach. That 24-hour promise encompasses everything, and we also provide an onward journey guarantee,â€ says Martin.â€œIt’s a complete pledge. We provide that guarantee for the whole vehicle, including the body.â€The R&M package also includes wear and tear items, such as brake pads and discs and wiper blades. â€œWear and tear should be minimal in the first two years, but anything affected will be replaced, within the terms of cover,â€ he adds.And R&M is proving popular. Around 75% of the coaches Scania has supplied over the last three years have come with the two-year package; on a percentage of customers, that figure is higher.Both Mark and Martin put that down to the increasing complexity in technological advances. On the other hand, it’s not compulsory, and the buyer may choose to delete it if it prefers to look after the vehicle in its own garage.â€œR&M is particularly popular among smaller operators, who take just one or two coaches from us at a time,â€ concludes Martin. â€œWe’ve worked hard to make sure our dealers are giving the service that operators expect.â€œIt’s all about providing what the customer wants, and is right for their business. We’re committed to doing that.â€
The allure of the capital’s growing tourist market has seen London City Tour become the newest entrant into the open-top sightseeing business, with 75 staff.A subsidiary of family-owned Spain-based Juli Group, founded 75 years ago and already running sightseeing tours in many worldwide cities, the operation is the result of more than a year of planning.Using 24 ex-Metroline Plaxton Presidents, converted by Ensignbus and based at Arriva subsidiary OFJ’s Heathrow depot (also carrying out the contracted maintenance), it is running two loop routes (West End and Tower), starting at a terminus in Westminster Bridge Road, Blackfriars.A pre-recorded GPS-activated commentary in 10 languages, plus mobile app and live guides, are provided. Tour frequency will build up to 10 minutes by the end of May, when all bus conversions are completed. Operations started on 24 March.The tour is unique in the London market by offering free Wi-Fi, a 48-hour hop-on hop-off ticket, USB sockets downstairs and a tie-up with the iVenture card, also owned by the Juli Group.The iVenture card offers remarkable value, with one free activity for each purchased London City Tour ticket (32 adult, 12 child). These range from a fully-escorted Evan Evans coach tour to destinations including Oxford, Stonehenge, Warwick and Canterbury, to a free meal at restaurants such as Planet Hollywood or Tuttons, entry to attractions including St Paul’s Cathedral, Thames river cruise, jet boat ride or Arsenal stadium, or theatre tickets.The London operation is run by MD Terry Gilbert, who spent 10 years with tour operator Evan Evans and five years with Big Bus Tours.He described the first week of operation as a success and â€œvery competitive, and challenging,â€ but says that the outstanding value, especially with the iVenture card, and on-board USPs, mean it will be a success.He says group bookings, of any size, are welcome, with rates on an ad hoc basis by agreement.It means there are now six London sightseeing operators: London Duck, Big Bus, City Sightseeing, Golden Tours and The Original Tour.
In attempting to introduce regulation, the Maltese Government created an unworkable monster. After only 2.5 years Arriva, which had won the contract, exited and left the island with its reputation in tatters. Now, David Martin, the CEO at the time, breaks his silence on what went wrong. Mel Holley reportsArriva operates bus and rail services in 14 European countries, but not Germany – which it had to exit when the firm was bought by the German state railway Deutsche Bahn (DB) in 2010, or France, which it has never managed to enter due to protectionist measures by tendering authorities designed to keep foreign operators out.Over the years it has entered a number of countries and worked under different models. Overall, its European expansion is regarded as a model of success and one that other operators aspire to.Malta was an absolute unmitigated disaster. Everything else in Europe had been successful, but this one we’ll put our hands up to, that it all went wrongBut that was not the case in Malta, which it entered in July 2011. The background was a change from a complete free-for-all – similar to the private non-regulated minibus model in many developing countries – to a full-regulated model. This met with considerable opposition from the previous owner-drivers and was one of the core reasons for the failure.At the time, David Martin, who retired last year, was Arriva’s CEO. Now, three years after Arriva’s forced exit from Malta, he breaks his silence on what went wrong in his opinion.Total disaster“Malta was an absolute unmitigated disaster. Everything else in Europe had been successful, but this one we’ll put our hands up to, that it all went wrong.“Malta historically was owner-drivers running mostly UK buses, such as Leyands; very colourful, very decorative, but with no structure, no regulation, nothing at all.As it was: A colourful fleet of old, non-accessible buses, driven ‘enthusiastically’ but few evening or weekend services“It was a very bold move of the Maltese politicians to actually want a big bang approach and to regulate bus services and completely tender the whole service provision for the island, which they duly did.“They probably spent a huge a mount of money on some exceedingly parasitic consultants who certainly charged an awful lot for their services and created something that was absolutely, totally, unworkable.“We bid against a specified timetable, but without the infrastructure to support the timetable and with several missing links within that timetable. These were key traffic flows to the university, hospital and schools.“Having put a bid in for what we asked to do, there was then a clear situation that politically they could not afford that, so therefore there was a lot of quantitate engineering, if you like, to get the cost back to something like they could actually afford.“What it meant was that we made mistakes as well and promised things that were undeliverable in reality.“We just did not understand the impact of traffic congestion, the differences between the tourist systems, the fact that the police will not control the traffic at all, the fact that the local authority promised us a whole array of bus lanes and individual bus laybys relative to the stops, particularly with our articulated buses.“And for a whole series of reasons, nothing was delivered and effectively it just went completely and totally wrong.”Network change“We changed about 90% of the network in the first six months. We struggled to maintain anything to do with sensible driving standards. Our accident rates were unbelievable; the quality of drivers there was incredibly bad.“Maybe the learning there from a political sense, and indeed from ours, is that going somewhere completely cold and new and attempting in one go to change everything, with a poor partnership approach, is doomed to failure.“There are some learnings we take from that, as Arriva has taken from that and talks about it openly with new countries and new tendering authorities elsewhere, in order to avoid the mistakes that we’ve seen.”The main Arriva Malta fleet was formed of 172 new King Long buses, bought specifically for the contractAcross Europe Arriva works under three business models:1. Contracted services, gross cost: The tendering authority pays a specific sum for specified services and retains the revenue (and takes the revenue risk) while setting routes and vehicle specification.2. Contracted services, net cost: The operator takes the revenue and cost risk, keeping the revenue, and the authority contributes where services are not commercially viable.3. Deregulated: There is a direct commercial relationship between Arriva and its passengers. The operator sets the routes, fares and vehicle specification, taking all the commercial risk, and keeping the passenger revenue. However, services need to be profitable to be sustainable.Within Arriva’s business models are other permutations on gross cost, net cost and deregulated models, which include fixed subsidy; fixed profit margins; controlled fares (both in the regulated and deregulated markets); and being either capital-intensive, or where the vehicles are provided to the operator for them to use without capital cost.LeverageIn the regulated market, such as London and parts of Europe, services are provided through tendering linked to cost and quality.There is no commercial leverage for operators on fares or timetables and in many regions, no revenue incentive.In some more “visionary” countries or regions, says Mr Martin, there are well-constructed bonus systems operating within net cost contracts. “This gives the operator an incentive to out-perform and deliver a better service to the passengers.“In regulated markets client bodies (i.e. tendering/specifying authorities) can be slow to react, as there is more process, politics and budget constraints than for commercial operations.”Experience in Europe by Arriva has shown that there is a 20-30% benefit to taxpayers through liberalisation, due to lower costs, increased service levels, the quality of operation and environmental benefits.He concludes: “There is no single solution to delivering bus networks.“Patronage will only grow through effective meaningful partnerships. It requires a combination of energies between operators and authorities. A regulatory framework that enables partnerships to flourish is the best way to drive customer benefits.”Arriva and its Malta operationsArriva was established in 1938 as T Cowie, a motorcycle shop, and through a number of mergers and acquisitions was rebranded Arriva in 1997 and became a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn in 2010.In July 2011 Arriva started operating a 10-year concession to operate all scheduled bus services on Malta and Gozo. Arriva held a 67% shareholding, with the local Tumas Group owning the remaining 33%.The main fleet was 172 new King Long buses, supported on high-density routes by 68 former Arriva London Mercedes-Benz Citaro G articulated buses; 10 hybrid Optare Solos and two Bluebird minibuses for use in Valletta were also bought.An assortment of the newest low-floor automatic buses from the former owner/driver pre-July 2011 operation were also bought and refurbished to bring them broadly into line with the rest of the fleet. This included the fitting of air conditioning and CCTV equipment and rebranding into Arriva livery.In August 2013, the Government of Malta instructed Arriva Malta to remove the artics from service, pending investigation after three major fires in 48 hours. They never returned to service.By the end of December 2013 Arriva had run up losses of €50m in 2.5 years and told the government it could not continue, with its German parent refusing to continue to prop up the ailing subsidiary, meaning it would go bust.On 1 January 2014 Arriva stopped, operations in Malta having been nationalised by the Maltese government as Malta Public Transport.
London is alive with Olympic fever. Even four years on from the London Olympics, and with the Paralympics in Rio still to come, there is still a buzz around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – formerly home to the Olympic stadium, and now Premier League football with West Ham United.A group tour can be combined with a visit to the ArcelorMittal OrbitThose who missed out on tickets in 2012 and have been itching to go ever since, or fans of West Ham who want a behind-the-scenes look at their favourite club, will now get the chance, with new tours open to the public.The tour takes visitors on a trip around the former Olympic stadium (now the London Stadium), with exclusive access to usually private areas of the venue; from the changing rooms to the warm-up track, the tunnel out onto the pitch to being stood pitchside inside the stadium.The tour will take approximately 90 minutes; however, visitors are able to customise the tour to fit their interests. With an interactive tablet and headphones, visitors can take the tour at their own pace, with the ability to skip, pause, rewind and fast-forward through the Stadium as desired.There is a discount of 10% for groups of 15-24 and 15% for groups of 25+. A dedicated bookings team will handle groups of 25+. The nearest drop-off point for coaches is just a short walk away from the Stadium.Daniel Hurst, Senior Tours Manager at the London Stadium, says: “At the moment as the stadium is being finished, the coach drop-off point is close to the Orbit, near the Podium restaurant – the walk is two minutes – and that also allows groups to see the Orbit.”Coach parking is available on-site, with a multi-storey car park situated at Here East and further coach parking available a short walk away at Westfield shopping centre.Visit goo.gl/rql5wEFor more information on coach parking visit goo.gl/OctVhS
Demand-responsive transport for vulnerable users requires a great deal of care from the operator and its drivers, but when done well it makes a real difference to people’s everyday lives, as with Little BusPaula Cheshire (left) and Sally George handle D&G’s Little Bus undertakingDemand responsive transport (DRT) is a specialised part of the minibus world. It requires an operator and drivers that are able not only to deal with routes that change on a daily basis, but who can also handle the task of carrying passengers who are often vulnerable.D&G Little Bus is lucky that it has a team of staff that takes these needs in their stride. Its 11 accessible minibuses serve a Cheshire East Council DRT contract, and they operate from the same base in Crewe that houses D&G’s fleet of larger buses.In July 2018 D&G will have had the Cheshire East DRT contract for five years, and it will be retendered at that point.Prior to it going to D&G, the work was divided between two smaller operators. Since it moved, passenger demand has grown, says Senior Traffic Office Supervisor Paula Cheshire, who has responsibility for the DRT service.“I was a driver on Little Bus before I came off the road, and I know that the job is as easy or as hard as you want to make it,” she explains.“Drivers are the backbone of Little Bus. They have a lot to do apart from just driving, but they go above and beyond. They go to passengers’ front doors and help them on and off the minibus and they also carry users’ shopping for them.”It might be surprising to hear that, in a world where staff swap employers regularly, Little Bus enjoys a stable workforce.Almost all of the drivers that were TUPE’d across from the previous operators remain with D&G, and a handful of others have joined as the service has grown. The 11 minibuses meet a peak requirement of nine, so what is the secret of doing this work well?Staying organisedIt starts behind the scenes, and Paula is assisted by Sally George, who handles bookings. Little Bus is for people who are unable to use conventional buses, and all of its 2,000 users are registered.Like everything else operationally with Little Bus, registration administration and the inputting of data into the booking system is handled entirely by D&G, although it has regular meetings with Cheshire East Council.The service runs with accessible minibuses and a dedicated driver teamAfter they register, users are sent a pamphlet with information about how to use Little Bus. They can then book journeys via phone lines that are open between 0930-1230hrs Monday to Friday; Little Bus runs between 0930-1600hrs on the same days.Naturally, users must be Cheshire East residents, and Little Bus covers the whole of the authority’s area from Crewe in the south to Knutsford and Macclesfield in the north.That’s quite a task with nine vehicles in service, especially as Cheshire East’s landscape varies from urban Crewe where short-distance demand can be high, to rural areas surrounding Macclesfield, where demand is lower but distances between calling points are much longer.“Passengers book at least one day prior to travel, but we have a number of regular users who make the same journey every week. In those cases, they don’t need to call us and we keep serving them until they tell us that we are no longer required,” says Paula.As if by magic…To maximise efficiency, bookings in the more remote areas are grouped together on a day-by-day basis. As an example, villages surrounding Macclesfield are typically served once or twice per week depending on the level of demand.At registration, users are allocated geocodes based on their location. Ad-hoc journeys are accommodated as effectively as possible via a mix of computerised and manual scheduling.It is often possible to move bookings slightly to accommodate other passengers, but when the scheduling software draws a blank the tried-and-tested way of doing things by hand is utilised.“We have a space for unallocated passengers, and after the phone lines for the following day’s bookings close, we go through them manually and find a place for them,” adds Paula.Part of the scheduling is an allowance for infirm passengers. When the user is in a wheelchair, 15 minutes is given for them to get on or off, and boarding and alighting times are varied for other passengers depending on driver feedback; when it is received, requirements are inputted onto the passenger’s record and they form part of the schedule from then on.Service runs to suit the needs of its users, and covers all of Cheshire EastThe driving forceThe nature of Little Bus’ passengers means that routes and stopping points can change at short notice. Alterations are communicated via text message. Each driver usually covers the same area every day, although a handful may ‘float’ to cover holidays and sickness.“Keeping drivers in the same areas is something that we feel strongly about, because passengers get used to seeing the same person,” says Paula.“We sometimes have to change drivers for operational reasons, but continuity is best because we are often dealing with older people who may have Alzheimer’s or dementia. It is very important that they see a familiar face at the door when the minibus comes to pick them up.”Next of kin details for all users are held on record. While most passengers are of an older demographic, Little Bus also carries some younger disabled users, and each bus may be used by up to 40 travellers on a busy day.Utilising the assetsSlick scheduling and grouping passengers geographically is all done in the name of working minibuses as hard yet as efficiently as possible, and there is a variety of vehicles in the fleet including coachbuilt models and conversions.“We have a variety of internal layouts; the maximum is 15 seats but others have less than that where seats have been removed to create space for wheelchair users,” says Paula.As Little Bus shares a depot and maintenance facilities with D&G’s 30-strong conventional bus fleet, it is a simple task for engineers to alter seating arrangements to suit the following day’s requirements.To make this as simple a task as possible, tracking rails are cleaned daily, and while considerable dead mileage could be saved by parking minibuses at outstations in the towns that they serve, all are kept at Crewe overnight to ensure they are available for the following day’s serviceA demonstrator with a low-floor area has been evaluated by Little Bus, but drivers suggested that they prefer flat-floor models. That’s not just for layout flexibility, says Paula.Operating centre is shared with D&G’s fleet of larger buses in Crewe“Drivers prefer to secure passengers in the vehicle using straps rather than using a backrest and the chair’s brakes in a low-floor area because they know then that the user is not going to move.Drivers have been trained how to tie down wheelchairs properly, and our scheduling allows them time to do so.“Drivers were TUPE’d across with the contract and they were familiar with DRT work, but we were all given comprehensive training in all aspects of the operation by D&G.“That included safe stowage of passengers’ bags; an example used during the training was on another operator’s service when a can of Coke fell out of the overhead racks and injured someone.”That’s part of D&G’s commitment to making sure that things are done correctly on Little Bus, as well they should be when the social importance of the service is considered.“Our passengers, and particularly those who are wheelchair users, often say that DRT is their lifeline. If it didn’t operate, they would be unable to leave their house. That’s how important it is,” adds Paula.“Five days a week, we send out nine vehicles to cover all of Cheshire East, and we work very hard to accommodate every user’s request. It’s not always an exact science, but the nature of the service and the nature of our passengers mean that they are all carried, even if it is very occasionally on an alternative day.”Passenger volumes have gone in the right direction since D&G took on the Little Bus DRT work, and it increased the number of vehicles in service every day from eight to nine.“We went to the council and told it that an additional minibus was needed to meet growing demand. It looked at the figures and it agreed with us.”Funding for public transport in Cheshire East is currently under review. But Little Bus serves a valuable need for many of the area’s mobility-restricted residents, and it does so efficiently and with a team of committed drivers and supervisors. The increase in passenger numbers is testament to that.
EXCLUSIVE PREVIEWThe all-new Caetano Levante III has arrived in the UK from its Portuguese builder.It was rolled out for a press inspection this week, ahead of its official unveiling at Coach & Bus UK at the NEC, Birmingham, on 4-5 October – visit www.coachandbusuk.comSharp modern looks; clean lines. ‘Stair-rods’ decals have been deletedIt is the outcome of a project started in 2015, when stakeholders including passengers, operators and manufacturers, were consulted on their vision.Fresh, sharp designThe result is a new sharp-looking design, along with improvements to make it easier to drive, maintain and more pleasant for passengers. Top of the list for National Express is safety, and the new coach is bristling with features from Volvo and other suppliers.At 14.9m it’s 0.6m longer than the current Levante II tri-axle, which remains in production and examples will continue to be delivered until full series production hits its stride early next year. The extra length adds three more seats, taking it to 59, but only a little more weight thanks to improvements in the structure to mitigate in part some of the extra weight dictated by Euro 6 requirements.More for passengersPassengers will benefit from two USB ports at each seat position, and under-seat bag stowage, with airline-style bars to stop items sliding forward.Rear has more familiar styling cues, a clever use of grille arrangementAlso, the toilet has been redesigned to prevent smells and make it easier to keep clean and presentable throughout its life. When National Express duties have ended, the toilet can now be dismantled in situ and removed through the rear emergency door. Four seats replace it and already a kit is available to reconfigure the saloon. Underfloor heating is a firstOne of the most fascinating developments in passenger comfort is totally hidden – underfloor heating using conductive film. Not only does this deal with complaints about cold spots, especially by the large entrance door, but also does away with perimeter heating. Removing the water pipes not only deletes potential leaks, but the absence of the heaters frees up valuable legroom by the window.The underfloor heating is split into four zones, front/back, left/right, to cope with the differences of temperature near the engine, and cooler front.Drivers get a new dash with better switch location, a lockable storage box to the left of the seat and UVB coating on the windscreen to cut down solar gain. Co-drivers will enjoy a new larger courier seat, with bigger footrest that slides out from the top step.Black section between rear wheels is part of panel, designed to hide dirtThe trademark ‘rising floor’ Hidral wheelchair lift is unaltered to ensure commonality across the fleet.Edwards Coaches to get prototypeThe prototype coach – bound for South-Wales based Edwards Coaches after the show – is on Volvo’s B11R chassis.The next prototype, for Skills of Nottingham, will be on a Scania chassis. The Mercedes-Benz OC500 chassis, available at Euro 5, is no longer offered as the manufacturer’s cooling requirements dictate a grill arrangement that do not meet with National Express’ aesthetic needs at the rear.FULL STORY IN NEXT WEEK’S ROUTEONE: OUT IN PRINT AT THE NEC SHOW, AND ONLINE ON WEDNESDAY 4 OCTOBERSee below for more pictures…New courier seat in entrance. Easy to de-brand for second lifeTwo USB ports in each socket, per seat position, including the wheelchair seatsToilet now has stainless steel bowl for cleanlinessPolitecnica seats instead of Fainsa, now real leather front and back
Security on Greater Manchester’s transport networks have been strengthened with the addition of 10 new Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).TfGM TravelSafe Partnership Manager, John Fryer, Managing Director at KeolisAmey Metrolink, Aline Frantzen and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Beverley Hughes with the ten new Travelsafe Partnership PCSOs at St Peter’s Square Metrolink stopThe officers joined the ranks of the region’s TravelSafe Partnership (TSP), a multi-agency approach set up to tackle and reduce crime and antisocial behaviour (ASB) on the region’s bus and tram networks.This is the latest move to enhance the TSP and brings the total of new PCSOs that have joined the unit since the summer to 30, with a further 20 set to join over the coming months. Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Beverley Hughes, says: “We promised to prioritise a greater staffing presence on the transport networks, particularly in the evenings and on weekends, and the addition of these extra officers will complement the excellent work already being undertaken to keep the networks as safe as possible.“The continuing expansion of the team should send out two clear messages: that anybody using Greater Manchester’s transport network should feel safe and secure and that antisocial behaviour will never be tolerated.”A recent two-week crime crackdown by the partnership – that included covert and overt patrols and operations – resulted in 56 arrests, 494 fines issued, 11 missing people being located, use of specialist police units to deter crime and ASB and recovery of outstanding fines from people previously caught travelling without a ticket.Elisabeth Tasker, Managing Director at Stagecoach, says: “The safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority and while instances of crime and antisocial behaviour on our buses continue to be low these additional officers will support the work of the team to provide a reassuring presence.“The TravelSafe partnership also ensures we have a joined up approach between all the public transport operators in the region enabling us to benefit from shared intelligence and to target known hotspots.”
Stagecoach Group has celebrated its employees from across its businesses at its annual Champions Awards.The awards – now in their eighth year – recognise excellence over six areas including Safety, Health, Community, Customer Service, Environment and Innovation.Winners represented the company’s bus and rail businesses in the UK and North America. All received a trophy, cash prize and a two-night stay in London incorporating the award ceremony.Special Bravery Awards were also presented to employees who were caught up in the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Martin Griffiths says: “We have a fantastic team of employees across Stagecoach and our Champions Awards are about celebrating those who have delivered above and beyond expectations over the past year.”“We are delighted to have honoured the exceptional people who make a real difference to our business and to our customers every day.“I would like to offer huge congratulations to all of our Champions and thank them for the part they play in delivering high-quality services to our passengers.”The 2017 Stagecoach Champions are as follows:Safety ChampionGOLD: John Edgar, Electrician; and David Fletcher, Cleaner, Morecambe, Stagecoach UK BusJohn and David have had to administer lifesaving care to two members of Stagecoach staff within a matter of months and without their intervention their colleagues would not be alive today. On both occasions the pair have carried out CPR until the arrival of the paramedics and have been widely praised by those involved, their families, colleagues, paramedics and hospital staff.BRONZE: Rachel Spencer and Cheryl North, Bus drivers, Grimsby, Stagecoach UK BusDrivers Cheryl North and Rachel Spencer intervened to almost certainly save the life of a young boy who had fallen into the water of a lock in Grimsby. Rachel jumped into the lock to rescue the child while Cheryl helped from the side of the dock and between them the two ladies managed to retrieve the child from the water. Both drivers remained with the child until the emergency services arrived. The young boy was taken to hospital and after being checked over was found to have no serious injuries.Environment ChampionGOLD: Martin Foster, Bus Driver, Walkergate depot, Stagecoach UK BusMartin has been an Eco Champion at Walkergate depot for over six years and the facility has already been recognised as top in the North East for environmental performance. Martin’s colleagues believe he deserves individual recognition for all that he has achieved over the years. Martin has spent a lot of his own time at the depot checking light sensors and electronic timers save as much electricity as possible. Every week, he goes around the entire depot emptying recycling bins and ensuring that everything possible can be recycled. Every socket is labelled to switch off when not in use and every tap has a sticker to remind people to report dripping taps. Signs are also on display to remind staff to fill the kettle only with the amount of water required. Martin has also built a community garden in the depot so staff can enjoy some fresh air and free fruit every Friday, with the excess turned into compost for plants around the depot.Health ChampionGOLD: Michelle Hargreaves, Managing Director; and Helen Smith, Operations Manager, Grimsby; Stagecoach East Midlands, Stagecoach UK BusMichelle Hargreaves and Helen Smith spearheaded a project to improve the well-being of staff by creating the health and well-being committee to help equip employees with the tools and knowledge for a healthy lifestyle. The vision was to increase morale and productivity and to promote physical and mental health. The first initiative was the delivery of free fruit to all depots every Monday. Meal ingredients and menus were delivered to depots every Wednesday to provide staff with healthy food choices such as eggs, prepared vegetables, jacket potatoes and beans. On top of this, the team introduced the ‘Big Loser’ competition from March 2017 where depots had a weekly weigh-in and were encouraged to lose weight through a healthy lifestyle. Employees were also encouraged to take part in the pedometer step challenge with nearly 370 employees signing up to track their daily steps and get a chance to win a Fitbit.BRONZE: Kenny Brown, Bus Driver, South Shields, Stagecoach UK BusKenny has taken positive action over the last year to reduce his weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Having been a driver for 11 years, Kenny found that the weight had crept up on him so he joined Slimming World and lost an amazing five stone by giving his diet and exercise regime a complete overhaul. Kenny is always on hand for advice and healthy eating tips and is actively helping colleagues with their weight loss goals. He is a positive role model for bus drivers who have struggled with weight gain in what can be a sedentary job.Innovation ChampionGOLD: Stagecoach Digital and Stagecoach South East TravelHero development team Launched March 2017, TravelHero is a new app that allows customers to plan, book and travel using buses and taxis across East Kent – all in one place. TravelHero – a technology solution developed by the Stagecoach digital team in London – has brought together Stagecoach South East and Kent cab company Longleys Private Hire to make travel easier for customers in the region. In a UK first, it offers customers cashless payments and tailored options, with customers being able to choose either the fastest or cheapest route based on what is most important to them.BRONZE: Kieran Bolton, Bus driver and CPC Trainer, Gloucester, Stagecoach UK BusKieran has used his previous work experience of 10 years in the army and 25 years as a police officer in Gloucestershire, as well as his own passion for training, to reinvigorate local training courses. He has gained the respect of managers, drivers and engineers for his interesting, stimulating and dynamic course delivery, with staff inspired to put his guidance into practice. Kieran has transformed the rear area of the training room into a mock bus and introduced several scenarios for the driver to manage at once. He then links the role play to the company’s conditions of travel, drivers’ handbook and other policies. Kieran has developed links with SkillZone, the local Fire Brigade Training School in Gloucester, with local school children benefitting from courses on potential dangers while travelling to senior school on their own by bus.Community ChampionGOLD: Joe Somers, Revenue Protection Inspector & Customer Relations, Peterborough, Stagecoach UK BusJoe has been a valued employee on the buses in Peterborough for more than 56 years, including time as a driver, union rep and controller. Throughout his career, Joe has worked in partnership with a number of organisations to promote public transport and improve facilities for disabled passengers and pensioners. He has also worked with schools in the area to educate children on good bus etiquette. Despite only working part time, Joe still spends many of his own hours promoting Stagecoach and the benefits of public transport. A great example of Joe’s work was in helping Stagecoach assist the National Literacy Trust (NLT) with their Peterborough Literacy Campaign. The NLT works to highlight the importance of literacy and the detrimental effects illiteracy can have on individuals and society. With all this experience Joe was also the ideal representative on a project to help bring Stagecoach and Virgin Trains employees closer together. Joe helped educate Virgin employees about the company’s bus services and helped carry out training inductions within Peterborough Train Station. Colleagues have paid tribute to Joe’s enthusiasm and positive outlook on the industry.SILVER: Junior Grant, Bus Driver, Sharston, Stagecoach UK BusJunior is a valued member of the team at Sharston, with over 38 years’ service with the company. He was actively involved in the setting up of the Moss Side Carnival in its infancy in the 1970s and 1980s, helping to bring the community together a high profile and troubled inner city location. He went on to be heavily involved in the Anglo/Caribbean Dominoes Championships bringing people from across the country together with communities from his homeland and introducing other members of staff at Princess Road Depot to team building competitions. Junior was selected to help support the UK Olympic Torch Relay and torchbearers. This high profile role involved assisting with planning the routes and settling the torch bearers into their roles on a very tight operational schedule with high security. In his day job, he helps with special duties such as setting up bus replacement services for Metrolink across Greater Manchester, co-ordinating the Parklife Festival operation, assisting the Message Trust (a Christian charity working to improve the lives of young people), and providing the Remembrance services at the War Memorial.BRONZE: Norma MacKenzie, Accounts Assistant, Stagecoach GroupNorma has been the catalyst for organising and supporting fund raising activities at Stagecoach Group HQ for the past 20 years. Her initiative has helped local charities through everything from bake sales to raffles. Norma always ensures that everyone in the office can take part and feel involved in all the activities she organises. Over the past two decades, Norma has organised a Christmas jumper week which she ensures will coincide with the in-house Christmas buffet, with staff invited to donate money for the privilege of wearing them. Norma also organises a raffle and manages to get some great prizes and luxury hampers. The money raised from this and other fundraising events go to local and national charities. To date, over all her many years of fundraising, Norma has helped generated nearly £23,000 for good causes.Customer Service ChampionGOLD: Carol Jones, Customer Service Assistant, Barnsley, Stagecoach UK BusCarol is extremely customer focused and a huge asset to the Stagecoach Yorkshire marketing and head office team. Carol handles Twitter on a daily basis as well as handling many other duties at the same time. She manages to handle a range of complaints and problems effectively, and easily turns a negative situation into a positive with her sense of humour and personal touch. Whether on the phone, over email or on Twitter, Carol treats each customer as an individual with a personalised response and service which shows a very human and friendly face of Stagecoach. Colleagues say that, even through recent personal challenges outside of work, Carol has kept her sense of humour and her customer focus “when most of us would have cracked”. Carol is a real asset to Stagecoach.SILVER: Tom Robb, Bus Driver, Dumfries, Stagecoach UK BusTom, who drives the 101 service from Dumfries to Edinburgh, received 16 nominations. He is described as lovely, courteous, kind and a brilliant driver. Passengers say he is always on time even in poor driving conditions. Staff members who work with Tom also endorse his many commendations from customers, saying he is very hard working. One customer said: “Tom is a friendly, helpful, polite driver who drives steadily, giving us a comfortable and safe journey. I always feel really relaxed when Tom is the driver. He is a quiet, unassuming man who works conscientiously. The best driver on the route – can’t praise him highly enough.” Another said he is “extremely committed to customer service and service delivery”, while another said: “he’s the friendliest, cheeriest chap”.BRONZE: Geoff Lawton, Bus Driver, Kendal, Stagecoach UK BusGeoff drives in the Windermere area and one weekend he had to deal with severe delays to bus services. Despite it being very busy with tourists, Geoff maintained a wonderful, calm manner in his driving. Just as importantly, he kept passengers updated on why the buses were delayed and apologised for the inconvenience. He went out his way to make all the passengers feel welcome, even helping a Chinese family with a group photo of themselves on the bus and speaking to them in Chinese! On one trip down from Coniston when the service was stuck in severe traffic, Geoff gave passengers a fascinating talk on Herdwick sheep, a native Cumbrian species. Geoff’s line manager has praised his commitment and the genuine love he has for his job. The company has also received many commendations from members of the public who have been on Geoff’s services. BRONZE: Andy Nicholson, Cleaner, Skegness, Stagecoach UK BusAndy suffers from Parkinson’s disease but, even though his condition has deteriorated in recent years, it has never taken the smile from his face. He’s never off sick and still keeps the bus station spick and span in any weather. He is a real credit to the Skegness team and his never give up attitude is infectious to those he works with. Colleagues say he has inspired many other members of staff due to his amazing attitude towards life and many are known to look up to Andy, admiring his amazing work ethic. SPECIAL BRAVERY AWARD:Stagecoach Manchester, Stagecoach UK BusIn May 2017, 22 people, including children, were killed and dozens more injured in a suicide bombing at a crowded pop concert in Manchester Arena.It was the deadliest attack in Britain in a decade. Out of such a terrible event, there were many stories of courage and compassion. Shortly after the explosion, Stagecoach night inspectors travelled to the scene and quickly became involved in assisting where they could in the immediate aftermath, including directing the public away from the scene of the incident.In total, 17 drivers stayed behind after their duties finished to be on standby, and three were called up to drive the injured to hospital in Bolton and Oldham in order to save vital ambulance resources.The team worked tirelessly in the following days to provide a replacement bus service at short notice while tram services could not operate, with around 20 drivers and 40 vehicles required each day.The team as a whole and several named individuals highlighted here have been praised for their professionalism and tireless work both on the night and subsequently in supporting the emergency services and partner organisations, as well as helping the city recover.SPECIAL BRAVERY AWARD:Alexandru Manasa and Nazeem Islam, Bus Drivers, Catford, Stagecoach LondonAlexandru and Nazeem were driving buses on route 47 bus on the evening of 3 June 2017 when they were caught up in the terrorist incident at London Bridge. Aware of recent terrorist incidents, Alexandru advised passengers to stay on the bus for their own safety.He then assisted a group of distressed tourists get to the nearest train station. Later he helped police move pedestrians from the area and assisted local drivers to navigate around the diversions.Armed police officers ordered everyone on Nazeem’s bus to evacuate the vehicle. The bus was commandeered and Nazeem was asked to assist in moving the injured pedestrians and witnesses away from the scene to a hotel in Liverpool Street.Nazeem was exposed to people with some horrific injuries but remained calm and professional throughout. On his way to the hotel, Nazeem was given permission to drive the wrong way down one way streets and proceed through red lights to get the injured assistance as soon as possible.Both Alexandru and Nazeem put the needs of others first in an extremely terrifying situation.
Operators are being urged to download and read two updated guides, that are crucial to the continuation of their O-Licence.The DVSA Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness has been revised and reissued, as has the PSV Inspection Manual. The latter comes into effect on 20 May when the EU Roadworthiness Directive (2014/45) is introduced, and is for “everyone who takes part in PSV examinations and maintenance.”The revised ‘Roadworthiness guide is substantially improved with a new layout and ‘key information’ sections.A major change is that the guide no longer features the graph of mileage v inspection frequency (although parts of the text have not ben changed and still refer to the graph.Lead Traffic Commissioners for Enforcement Sarah Bell and Kevin Rooney say: “We strongly encourage you to take a proactive, evidence-based approach to setting inspection frequencies.“You know your vehicles and your operations better than anyone.“Six-weekly is a good starting point for many operators, but this should be regularly reviewed based on the results of inspections and the performance of your vehicles.“Listening to operators, we learned that some of you felt that the graph was too rigid and didn’t encourage basing intervals on the reality of operations.”Download athttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/psv-inspection-manualhttps://www.safedrivingforlife.info/sites/default/files/guide-to-maintaining-roadworthiness.pdf
Dublin-based importer to offer both high-capacity and high-specification options from early 2019One of the two full-length Higer integrals is in effect a stretched Super 9Two full-size Higer integral coaches are to be built in right-hand drive form on two axles and the first will arrive with Dublin-based importer Harris Auto in February 2019, it says.The as-yet unnamed low-height model will share many aspects of the existing Super 9 midi, and it will be marketed as a high-capacity workhorse seating up to 57.The other, a full-height coach already christened the Road King, will seat up to 55. A combined stock order for 20 has been placed. The first five to have Iveco Cursor 9 engines and the remainder will come with the Cummins ISL rated at 420bhp. In both cases the ZF EcoLife gearbox will be fitted. There are no plans to offer tri-axle variants, says Harris.Additionally, the importer says that the Super 9 continues to perform well in the Irish market, with Paddy Wagon having placed a second order for delivery early in 2019. Harris also promises that the first zero-emission Super 9 will arrive before the end of 2018.Meanwhile, both of the group’s AOS-branded Anadolu Isuzu models have generated positive feedback among operators, it continues.The rear-engined 9.3m Visigo is seen as a niche midicoach that suits applications where a narrow width is desirable. The shorter front-engined Turquoise, meanwhile, seats up to 33 and is regarded as a product that can replace the Mercedes-Benz Vario.Stock orders for 20 of each of the Turquoise and Visigo have been placed for 2019 delivery. Harris has established a dealership network in the UK through Albion Coach Sales, John Hill Coach Sales and RWT Commercial Services in Britain, and HAJ Group in Northern Ireland.