Friday, 31 July 2009

South West Trains mega summer offer - why don't more of you do it?

South West Trains is launching a new summer offer – travel anywhere on South West Trains network for just £10 return.

Not an ingenious idea, but that's the point. It's one that no doubt will get people on the train, because people just want good service and good value!

It's simple. At the weekend trains are half empty and they're going anyway. So why not give it away? We're always surprised that more TOCs don't do this.

Why just in the summer? Do it all year round!

click here to read the full press release

Monday, 27 July 2009

MPs urge rail franchise reforms

The rail franchise system is "a muddle" which allows train companies to "take advantage" of passengers and needs reform, a report by MPs has warned.

The Commons transport committee said operators were making profits in good times but forcing the government to step in when revenues fall.

And they charged "unacceptable" fare rises of up to 11% above inflation.

The Association of Train Operating Companies said four-fifths of passengers bought discounted tickets.

The MPs urged the government to run East Coast trains itself.

They said nationalisation could be a way of comparing the performance of the public and private sectors.

The report found operators had exploited a loophole to charge "unacceptable" fare rises.

Passengers had to go to "extraordinary lengths" to get cheap fares and that fares had risen out of all proportion to the rest of the economy, it said.

Tighter rules will now tie all prices to inflation plus 1% - resulting in cheaper fares by next January.

The committee's Labour chairwoman Louise Ellman said: "The fare rises we saw this year were excessive.

"Companies cream off profits in good times, but leave passengers to pick up the bill when hard times hit."

The report found the current structure had allowed rail operators to hike-up prices at the worst possible moment.

But Mrs Ellman said the price formula that allowed companies to take advantage in 2009 would remain in 2010 - when changed economic conditions should have the opposite effect.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has now closed a loophole which allowed train companies to increase prices of certain journeys if average fares remained within rules.

click here to read the full story

Top Gear explains how to sell public transport

This weeks episode of Top Gear saw Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May discuss the new government proposal to advertise public transport on motorway billboards.

In typical honest Top Gear fashion they highlight why we have such a hard job selling it – the negative stigma attached to public transport. It's very funny.

click here to see the clip

Friday, 10 July 2009

Free flight - would you stand?

Ryanair has launched an online poll to ask if passengers would ‘stand’ on short flights if it meant they could travel for FREE, or pay 50% less than seated passengers.

Ryanair is gauging passenger demand for its ‘vertical seating’ which will allow passengers to travel – for free – in a secure upright position on short flights of approximately one hour.

That's interesting, I'd probably do it for FREE but not half price. It might not take off (excuse the pun) but I admire their thinking.

click here to see the poll

On this same page they also link to a video parody – done by a Dublin radio station – basically taking the Mick out of them by using the Elton John song 'I'm still standing'. Again, fair play they realise that all publicity is good publicity.

Southern offers a staggering 90% OFF advance single tickets

In a bid to encourage less car travel and more train travel for Green Britain Day (Friday 10 July), Southern offered a wide range of Advance single tickets at a 90% discount.

This means that some tickets to London could be bought for as little as 50p! Tickets could be bought on-line on the day only for travel up to three months ahead

Southern Advance Fares are:

  • 50p (£5* with 90% discount)
  • 75p (£7.50* with 90% discount)
  • £1.25p (£12.50* with 90% discount)

These fares are for one way tickets

Further discounts are available for qualifying railcards (34%) and children (50%)

* The price of Southern Advance tickets when purchased from a ticket office.

click here to read more

Network Rail RIP poster campaign

A poster campaign designed by Aqueduct for Network Rail was launched at train stations nationwide this week.

The posters feature railway sleepers that have been replaced by coffins and RIP messages to help reduce adult trespass accidents.

Aqueduct said "It looks set to cause a public outcry, but also awareness and recognition of a highly effective campaign."

Not sure about the "public outcry" but they're nicely done. Although I can't help thinking they could be more 'in yer face'. By cutting out the first two lines of copy, which is already explained or contained in the image and removing the corporate white band at the bottom (guidelines permitting of course) it could really be made darker and more serious.

The posters are being used to pave the way for Network Rail’s summer ‘No Messin’ Live’ campaign fronted by boxing champion Amir Khan.

Friday, 3 July 2009

If Microsoft did school buses

You can just hear it now.

"Jones, keep your feet OFF the 19" LCD screens!"

Only in Japan.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

If Sainsbury’s can do it…

The Channel 4 series ‘I’m running Sainsbury’s’ looks at company boss Justin King’s mission to find the supermarket’s next ‘big idea’ from amongst his own staff.

One episode saw graduate Nial setting up a ‘stall’ and asking customers to come and explain their grievances over what the company was doing wrong. His thinking was that customers should be given the opportunity to offer constructive criticism face to face rather than vent their frustrations by taking business to a rival supermarket.

I wonder how many public transport companies would be comfortable doing this?

Everyone accepts passengers want buses and trains to be consistently clean, punctual, manned by courteous staff and offer value for money. Marketing teams spend big budgets selling people the benefits of public transport but too often their strategies are let down by the reality of their travel experience.

The messages quite rightly raise expectations but if not delivered, can lead to disappointed and unhappy customers who vote with their feet by choosing to use another operator or different form of transport.

Nial’s experiment at Sainsbury’s proved one thing. If you can resolve a customer complaint, they will be even more loyal than they were before. It also showed there are more people out there with a grievance than you can imagine.

The management team at Sainsbury’s concluded that you need passionate people in your organisation and customers should never be taken for granted, as their loyalty is a valuable commodity.

Is this ‘talk to us’ approach something public transport operators should consider? Or does the present system mean they are simply happy to have largely captive audiences who have nowhere else to go?

You tell us. Leave a comment.