Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis' speech to the Labour Conference

An interesting speech, with some good points. But will it ever materialise?

I took a journey for a week in the spring travelling the railways of Britain. It's taken me two thousand miles to get here. I met some wonderful people, including the transport staff who keep Britain moving day by day. I enjoyed it so much, I've still got the bug. Faced yesterday with a train from London to Brighton I had this irresistible urge to go via Inverness.

More exciting journeys lie ahead of us in all fields of transport and I want to talk to you about them today.

Good transport changes lives. It strengthens communities. It spreads prosperity around the whole country. It's what we in Labour are all about. But we face a challenge: how to reconcile personal mobility for all, one of the foundations of social justice, with tackling climate change in our generation. I believe we can meet this challenge. We do not have to choose between being green and being free. But only if we create a green transport system for the future...

click here to read the full speech

Friday, 25 September 2009

Greener Journeys website launched

Greener Journeys is a UK Bus & Coach Industry campaign encouraging people all around the UK to switch from cars to buses and coaches.

In just three years, they want to take one billion car journeys off the road by forming stronger partnerships between local authorities and operators.

Cleverly it doesn't urge people to give up their cars, just use them less. Which makes sense, no car owner is going to sell their car, unless they have to. But he could be convinced to get the bus into town ever now and then.

The only problem is the website. It's about as inspiring as a wet weekend in Swindon (I can say that, I live there).

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Trainers made from reclaimed bus and tube seats!

A collection of trainers made from rare, vintage and ultra rare iconic retro textiles from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's reclaimed from seats on London's Underground tube carriages and buses has been launched by Above+Below London.

They incorporate recycled tyre rubber in the soles, restored Tube and bus seat textiles in the uppers and re-used leather cheque book wallets in the trim.

Great idea, but at £90 I don't think I'll get a pair. You don't know who's sat on them!

click here to see more of the range

Prince Charles encourages us to use public transport

The Prince, who has two Jaguars, two Audis, a Range Rover and still drives a gas guzzling Aston Martin given to him by the Queen on his 21st birthday, has been quoted as saying "We must surely be able to organise ourselves... in ways in which we are not dependent on it (the car) to such a great extent for our daily needs."

Click here to read the full story and the not-so-positive public feedback

Monday, 14 September 2009

Stagecoach goes for Gold!

STAGECOACH West launched a fleet of new super double deckers at the weekend.

The gold buses have hand-stitched Italian leather seats, low level lighting and super efficient, green engines.

Drivers have also been issued with new uniforms.

Stagecoach says the new buses will be more regular and it is hoped they will encourage more people to commute by bus.

A great idea and a step forward. But does it go far enough to differentiate it from the usual bus and change the stigma attached to it? Probably not. I don't think it will get many non-bus users to change.

click here to go to Stagecoach Gold

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Park & Ride or drive?

We recently had a meeting with First West Yorkshire, the Opco that is contracted to run the Park & Ride services in York. They run five sites surrounding the city but felt communication of the service could be improved and asked us to come up with some suggestions. The meeting went well.

For me, the objectives of Park & Ride are fairly straight forward - keep traffic out of the city centres and ease congestion. Oxford is a great example of a scheme that really works - there is an incentive (P&R is cheap to use with regular services) and a deterrent (car parking prices are expensive). The operator works with the council and they seem to be on to a winner.

City of York Council seem to take a different view. They are -

1. Spending £20,000 on devices which will allow different pricing levels and credit/debit card payments in some city centre car parks

2.Introducing “half-price Tuesdays” between 10am and 3pm in October and November in all standard-stay car parks

3.Prepared to lose between £8,000 and £20,000 in parking revenue through the 'incentives'.

Surely by doing all of this, driving in to York city centre becomes more appealing, not less?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Scotland the Reliable

TRAINS are more reliable than they have been in a decade, according to new industry figures.

Train operator ScotRail and infrastructure manager Network Rail said punctuality reached 94.8 per cent in the 28 days to August 22. And over the same period, punctuality reached 97.9 per cent on express services including the main Glasgow-Edinburgh line and trains from both cities to and from Aberdeen and Inverness.

The improvement comes despite 10 per cent more trains running than in 1999, they said.

Steve Montgomery, ScotRail's managing director, said: "This was an excellent month, with strong punctuality performance seen across the network."

The previous best monthly high since ScotRail took over the franchise in late 2004 was 94.2 per cent in April last year.

The results also showed that punctuality across the Scottish rail network passed 90 per cent for the sixth month in a row.

David Simpson, Network Rail route director in Scotland, said: "This level of performance is further evidence that, with ongoing investment and attention to detail, the overall standards on Scotland's rail network are improving year on year."

Congratulations to all at ScotRail!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Poor show for Greyhound customer services

Marketing Magazine do a weekly feature where they phone up a large brand's customer service number to see how well they handle an enquiry.

This week sees them call up Greyhound (First). How did they fare? Read on...

First Group - Good morning, First Group. How may I direct your call?

Mktg - Hi. I was looking for customer services for Greyhound, actually, and I couldn't find it on their website.

First - Group Right, one moment.

Mktg - Thank you. [Mktg waits to be connected.]

First Group - Hi, you've reached the voicemail for [name]. I'm not here at the moment, but if you could leave your name and number then I'll get back to you soon.

[Mktg redials.]

First Group - Good morning, First Group. How may I direct your call?

Mktg - Hi, I think I just spoke to you a second ago - I'm looking for customer services for Greyhound. I just got put through to a woman, I think, called [name] or something.

First Group - [Name]? Yeah. I don't have a number because it's all fairly new - any calls I have, I have to direct to the marketing team.

Mktg - Oh, she's on the management team?

First Group - No. Marketing, marketing. They're taking all the calls. They might be able to help you, but I don't know if there is a customer services yet. It's not up and running.

Mktg - Oh, right. I thought it had started.

First Group - No, it doesn't start until the 14th, or something, of September, I think it is.

Mktg - Ah, OK. I'm with you now. Will there be a customer services in the next couple of weeks, do you think?

First Group - That's why I put you through to [name], because we can't answer any questions. I've been told to pass all the calls regarding Greyhound to our marketing team.

Mktg - OK. Could you just try for me again?

First Group - Yeah, I could try someone else.

Mktg - Great. Thank you very much.

[Mktg waits as call is connected.]

First Group - Thank you. Good morning, [name] speaking.

Mktg - Hi, sorry, is that Greyhound?

First Group - You're through to the marketing department at First Group, yes.

Mktg - Yeah, I was just looking for some more information.

First Group - OK, how can I help?

Mktg - When does it actually launch?

First Group - It launches on 14 September.

Mktg - OK. Basically, I regularly use National Express etc. and I just wanted to see how the services differed, really. With Greyhound, I travelled around America a few years ago and I didn't have the greatest experience. So, I was wondering how it differs in the UK.

First Group - It is a different service. We've pitched it differently in the UK compared to National Express. Our main extra features, I guess, are wi-fi, extra legroom - 20% more then standard coaches...

Mktg - You've got wi-fi?

First Group - Yes, power sockets as well. Reclining seats, free Newspapers. And obviously, most of our offers are to be put online. It going to start from a £1 plus booking fee.

Mktg - I've travelled around America a few years ago. Is there much difference from it there?

First Group - It is.

Mktg - There were a few ex-cons on there and things like that. It was a bit random.

First Group - Our offering is different. We're mainly aiming at commuters and young professionals. You can find more information by visiting the website.

Mktg - There's more on the website. Excellent. What's the service that'll be starting, then?

First Group - Where are you based at now?

Mktg - Well, I live in London but I go to Wales.

First Group - OK, well... at the moment... We're... Apart from London Victoria. We're offering two services from there... one to Portsmouth and one to Southampton.

Mktg - Oh, right. Will that change in the future?

First Group - It may do. At the moment, 2009, they're the only services that we are offering. If these are successful, then we would hope that we could branch out to other areas.

Mktg - I'll keep my eye open then... OK, that's really good. Thanks a lot.

First Group - Bye.

Verdict - Despite regional press ads being run to back the launch, no customer service number had yet been put in place and I was passed around before being put through to someone who could help. I expected First Group to have prepared better.

Score - 3/10

Friday, 4 September 2009

London's 4-year-old human bus map

A 4-year-old boy has memorised virtually every bus service in the capital.

Ishaal Yewale can tell you which bus route to take, day or night.

His father Jayant says that Ishaal's always been fascinated with public transport and has been reading bus maps for the past eight months. 'He can read well, and is very good with numbers'.

click here to see him in action

Boy's love of trains sparks alert

The parents of a boy who has run away to try to catch a train have asked railway staff to put up warning posters to stop him getting into danger.

Four-year-old Toby Friend has even tried to buy a ticket at the station near his house in mid-Kent.

He has climbed his back garden fence and crossed two main roads 15 times in his effort to reach the station.

"He just loves the train so much... he thinks he can go on his own," said his mother, Kirstie Field.

"He just loves adventure. We don't drive, so apart from the occasional bus, train is our only transport.

"The first time he actually managed to get on a train and asked for a ticket," she said.

"Luckily the train guard didn't leave the station, but there's always that worry that he's going to get on a train and not ask for a ticket, and just go and sit down, and the train just leaves as normal."

Railway staff at stations all along the line from Tonbridge to Ashford now have pictures of Toby to help them keep a lookout for him should he try to get on a train again

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Dudley Moore tells the truth in his ads.

Saw this classic on TV the other day and thought I'd post a clip.

Taken from the brilliant film 'Crazy People' with the late Dudley Moore.