22 December 2009

Go-Ahead Q & A

 Go-Ahead Plymouth boss Answers the Questions
There is a short Q&A today on This is Plymouth the future of Plymouth Citybus from the new MD:

Are jobs safe?

There's an agreement in place with the council that there will be no forced driver redundancies in the first 12 months. We clearly have to look at levels of support staff. There may be things that can be done more effectively. I'm still looking; it's still too early to start. I've had an initial meeting with the union Unite and as many staff as I could. I'm very much in listening mode in these first few weeks, learning about the operation. Getting to know the staff is my priority. These people have had a lot of uncertainty.

People fear that you will shut down routes and raise fares.

We are bound in with certain conditions of sale as to what we can do with the network. We'll only succeed by carrying passengers. There's no point in running a company like this and just cutting everything back. What we'll inevitably do is to look at the network and decide whether it's appropriate to current demand.
If you go into Sainsbury's today, they won't be selling exactly the same things as they did 20 years ago.
Over time we hope to grow the market and attract more people on to our buses. If we put fares up too much, people will stop using us. I've got no plans in the short term to put up fares. We will be looking at a number of ways to charge people differently and offer different products.
People don't have to use our services. We have to operate in a way to make people want to use them.


You have a big site at Milehouse, probably bigger than you need. What plans do you have for the land?

There are no plans to relocate and sell the site for housing.


Why is private ownership a good thing?

Citybus' relatively small size made it more vulnerable to competition. First Group have been very aggressive, but they aren't dealing with a council-owned company with 170 buses any more; they're dealing with another plc. We've got the clout to take them on if that's needed.

Will Citybus be run from London?

The Go-Ahead model means we're part of a large organisation and can take advantage of their buying power.What separates Go-Ahead from other national transport groups is that although Citybus is part of something bigger, the model of management is one of local autonomy. Key business decisions are made in this building here at Milehouse, by people who live and work in the city. Almost everything is decided locally, including routes, the colour of the buses and the name of the company. It will remain Citybus for ever, as far as I'm concerned.

Read the full article here on This is Plymouth.

From the (few) drivers and other staff I have spoken to at Citybus there does seem to be a fairly positive mood at the moment that things should be OK under GA control. Of course there is still the uncertainty of job security that the MD acknowledges which is still hanging over staff, especially for non-driving staff. I still get the feeling though that staff realise it could have been a lot worse...

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