18 July 2008

News #2

This week's transport headlines, that follow our new format, have been taken from bus industry magazine CBW (Coach & Bus Weekly).

New Placing Price and name change for Darwen. From 15 July the Darwen Group name will change to that of parent owner, Optare plc; additionally the company's share price has started to fall and the directors know of no reason why this should occur so have revised its placing price to 30p per share from 40p in order to generate £16 million from their AIM-listed shares.

More bad news from Plimsoll suggests 8,000 industry jobs could go. Analytical company Plimsoll has suggested that around 8,000 bus/coach industry jobs could go in the next year as part of an overall UK unemployment hike of 300,000. Details of the analysis can be purchased for £350 by calling 01642 626422.

New awards ceremony for managers. The Dorchester Hotel in London was home to the Passenger Transport Management Awards ceremony with top price Transport Professional 2008 being awarded to First ScotRail MD Mary Grant.

Roberts takes first triaxle Volvo deckers. Roberts Coaches of Hugglescote (Leicestershire) has recently purchased the Volvo B9TL tri-axle option, the first of their kind to be bodied by Darwen East Lancs and to enter service in the UK. They are 12.4m long, have a Euro 4 D9B engine rated at 310bhp and can seat 100.

Translink orders 45 concept buses from Wrights. Translink has ordered 45 new concept Solar Rural buses for its Ulsterbus subsidiary, the first delivery to be this month and for the entire batch to enter service by the end of the year.

First's superstar lifesavers praised. Transport operator First has awarded its 2008 Superstar award to John Corder who performed CPR on a gentleman who collapsed at his local bus station.

NCC scheme wins employee benefits award. Employees for Nottingham City Council can purchase an annual bus pass through their payroll, which saves significant payments of tax and national insurance and was seen impressive enough to win the "Most Effective Application of Tax-Efficient Benefits" award.

OBC speeds up the airline. Go-Ahead's Oxford Bus Company subsidiary has introduced a new, faster Airline service, linking Oxford with Heathrow and Gatwick airports, by avoiding the M4 route into Heathrow and using the M25 in order to reach newly-opened Terminal 5.

New Tourino for Marshalls. Marshalls of Sutton-on-Trent (Nottinghamshire) has added a Mercredes-Benz Tourino to its fleet; the coach is LEZ-compliant and has 36 reclining seats offering a much roomier feel inside the coach.

Strong June crowns the best first half for years. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has released "near record" figures for the production of full-size buses and coaches for the first half of this year.

CPT turns to members for PR campaign. The Confederation of Passenger Transport is planning a large public relations campaign in order to breathe new life into the UK coach industry and is initially looking at its own members for ideas by sending them each a small survey - the results of which will form the basis of the campaign.

WAG subsidy boosting compliance rates. The Welsh Assembly pays for three VOSA compliance officers whereas the entire West Midlands area - with a population twice that of Wales - has only one, and the Wales & West Midlands Traffic Commissioner Nick Jones would like to see the balance redressed.

Customer service moves up a gear for Cardiff Bus. A newly-modernised Customer Service Centre has been opened in Wood Street in the city centre, as part of Cardiff Bus' commitment to improve services for its passengers and address their changing needs.

Buses to benefit from station travel plans. Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has launched the Station Travel Plan initiative in Derby last Friday, the main aim of which is to get passengers to use more environmentally-friendly forms of transport to get to and from rail stations.

Public opinion shifting as fuel prices sore. A YouGov tracker poll, commissioned by FirstGroup, has suggested that, as a consequence of the increase in the cost of fuel, the public believe more journeys will take place by buses and trains.

LOOK seals Stagecoach deal. Cctv firm LOOK has signed a £1.5 million pound deal to fit cctv camera equipment to the firm's entire 2008 bus order, totalling 580 vehicles.

New Chair elected to the North East CPT. Robert Knight, Commercial Director of Stagecoach North East has been elected Chairman of the CPT's North East division; prior to his election Robert held the position of vice-chair.

Shift to public transport is unavoidable. A call by EU and International Association of Public Transport is calling on each EU member state to earmark revenues from 'green taxes' for use in improving and promoting public transport as an alternative.

GMPTA pledges to get young people on public transport. A new 3-year plan has been announced by GMPTA that it hopes will get more young people on buses, trams and train, yet apart from mentioning its investment in yellow school buses and a £6 weekly ticket for 55 school buses in its area, nothing new has yet been announced by the Chair of GMPTA's Policy Committee, Keith Whitmore.

London drivers want equal pay. Bus drivers throughout London want to see the introduction of equal pay across the network; this was reinforced when 28,000 Unite union members voted for this. TfL has said it doesn't want to get involved and that it is down to each individual bus operator in London to pay what rates can be agreed. A demonstration march through central London is planned on 24 July.

CBW is now sold at Ian Allan bookshops for £2.95 each week, although an annual subscription of £69 sees copies equate to £1.35.