Making Passenger

Ep 7 - The 36 is a Badge of Honour

June 08, 2020 Passenger Season 1 Episode 7
Making Passenger
Ep 7 - The 36 is a Badge of Honour
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Making Passenger
Ep 7 - The 36 is a Badge of Honour
Jun 08, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
Passenger

Matt and Tom spoke to Alex Hornby, Chief Executive Officer at Transdev Blazefield. They wanted to find out how the practicalities of social distancing measures will affect bus operators, drivers and passengers and the UK begins to slowly start relaxing its lockdown.

Transdev operate buses right across the North of England, and have always had people at the heart of their agenda. Matt and Tom wanted to find out how crowdedness and cleanliness monitoring would help give Transdev's passengers the confidence needed to return to using public transport post COVID - 19.


Show Notes Transcript

Matt and Tom spoke to Alex Hornby, Chief Executive Officer at Transdev Blazefield. They wanted to find out how the practicalities of social distancing measures will affect bus operators, drivers and passengers and the UK begins to slowly start relaxing its lockdown.

Transdev operate buses right across the North of England, and have always had people at the heart of their agenda. Matt and Tom wanted to find out how crowdedness and cleanliness monitoring would help give Transdev's passengers the confidence needed to return to using public transport post COVID - 19.


Matt :

Hello, and welcome to this week's Making Passenger podcast. I'm Matt...

Tom :

and Im Tom.

Matt :

This week we'll be talking to Alex Hornby - Chief Executive at TransDev. TransDev operate buses right across the north of England that have always had people at the heart of their agenda.

Tom :

We want to find out more about the practicalities of how reduce capacity on board has been managed. And how the busres being cleaner than ever is giving passengers the confidence to return to using the buses again. Alex is a man who's been leading a team at the coalface for the last few months.

Matt :

Hope you enjoy Hi, Alex, thank you so much for joining us today. How you doing?

Alex :

Morning Matt, Great to be with you this morning and to chat some of the exciting things we're getting up to with Passenger

Matt :

What are we getting upto? Tom anything exciting our end?

Tom :

Yeah loads going on, Matt. I think what already yesterday, we launched the first iteration of our enhanced vehicle asset piece into the Transdev bus website. And yeah, that's, I think going out by by time everyones listening to this, this will be out into the wild, and everyone will be giving us lots of feedback on it. So we'll probably be on the the seventh iteration environment by the time I was reading this one or listening to this one.

Matt :

Yeah, quite possibly. I mean, that's the way things move in software. It's all quite fast, isn't it? So Alex, we wanted to get you on the podcast today, because we wanted to chat a little bit, weve been working with you guys on some of this crowdedness stuff. And we wanted to chat a little bit about that. And we also wanted to talk about a few other things as well. But first off, I just kind of wanted to get a little bit of background because I'm sure people deep in the industry will understand how some of these things work. But for some people, perhaps, more of the fringe area, they won't necessarily understand how you guys are making decisions. So sort of where is the advice coming from right now and how do you translate that decision into actionable events for your teams and your customers, your drivers or your staff?

Alex :

Sure. Well, yeah, without without being the first to use the word unprecedented on the podcast today. I think we are in unprecedented times. And I think we are moving at a tremendous pace at the moment, in terms of in terms of understanding what our customers want, what the market is out there and what what bus services are setting out to deliver at the moment. I think bus services in the UK, I think we are we are doing exactly the thing that certainly I get a kick out of from what the industry does, which is we're both we are, we're being a private enterprise and working in a deeply innovative and entrepreneurial fashion at the moment by nature of the speed we're working at. But also we are delivering a real essential public service, perhaps now more than ever. And so therefore, the collaboration that we have, with both national government and local authorities that we're dealing with, is working at an exceptional level. And so in terms of how we're making decisions, we are being guided by, by national government. And to be fair, I think certainly, from my perspective, we really welcome how much national government is listening to what the bus industry wants, and therefore, then create guidance that we can work easily to. And then at more local level, we are creating networks that are the most appropriate for us to deliver in terms of the resources we've got available. And at the same time, making sure we're delivering all the essential services that people need. And so the work we're then doing with Passenger, I think, will only magnify and enable all that to be much easier for customers to understand. And to get confidence back into bus travel at a time I think we've most desperately need it.

Matt :

Yeah, it sounds like it sounds like a bit of a challenge at the moment. And you know, and we're seeing that all over. Out of everything you're doing at the moment. Have there been any new learnings? Is there anything that you guys have picked up on anything where you think right, this was completely Unexpected that we're going to take this forward this is this is actually a positive outcome, and it's something we're going to maintain in our business?

Alex :

Oh, no, I mean, absolutely mean several things that you know, I mean, I'm, I'm a, I'm a glass half full type of person anyway. So I think from this, from a, from a purely sort of cultural level of bus operation, I think the role of bus drivers I think has been heightened because they've been seen as key workers. And that's something culturally, we want to, we want to glass up and make sure we can continue that on an ongoing basis, because I think that improves the relevance and the attractiveness of the industry. But I think from a customer perspective, it's also about cleanliness has become so much more important now. It's something that we've always believed in. I mean, we've long we've long had cleaning happening during the working day where our customers can see buses being cleaned in between journeys. This is something I think even more so obviously people are really, really keen at their the the places they go and The places they spend their time in are clean and hygenic. I think that is a great quality thing that we can, you know, all use this to take forward. And I think as well the ability to plan services where capacity, in terms of capacity and in terms of where demand is, this is some it's quite critical this time because for some operators, resourcing is quite is can be can be precious at the moment. But at the same time, if we are good to commit to the social distancing rules that the government is requiring us to, we must get capacity right, even more so than normal because the last thing we want to do is to be is to be leaving people at the side of the road. So therefore, you know, that the work that we then, you know, are doing with Passenger is really going to help with sadly, those those latter two points, and I'm sure we will, you know, we could discuss that as we go on.

Matt :

Yeah, sure. You said before the government's really listening to your industry and you're really grateful for that. Is there anything they're not listening to me? You pushing them on areas that they're not responding to it, or they just taking it all of your feedback and saying that's great. We're gonna action it or who's leading who?

Alex :

Yeah, yeah, I'm trying to I'm trying to be nicer, you know, to be fair, yeah. No, but but, you know, overall, I will stand by that fact. Even if you asked me this question down the pub, hopefully, when pubs open soon, you know, I will say the same thing that, you know, I think the government overall, I think the response to the industry has been good. And I think the things that slightly frustrate us is some of the messaging has promoted the car and its said, avoid public transport where as actually I think some of it has become a little bit London centric, and, certainly to us out in the provinces and then up north, you know, actually, you know, we are still you know, only carrying around, you know, 15 to 20% of our normal loads of customers and we have got the capacity to carry more and we want more people to come back to us in a safe way. And so, the overall messaging that was certainly being pumped out two or three weeks ago, what was, you know, it might be wasn't helpful, because it made out the public transport was unsafe, and we don't we don't believe you know, it is unsafe. So we think we can carry people in and look after our customers in a perfectly safe way with the capacity and frequency and timetable provision that we have. And indeed, it will, you know, it's increasing now all the time. They own separately, some of the stuff around you know, cycling and walking and active travel, I think, again, is great if it gets more cars off the road improves our air quality, fantastic, reduces congestion, all the kind of stuff that we believe in. But at the same time, we need buses to be in that same conversation. We can't have it as a separate conversation of let's just sort out walking, cycling and let buses sort of carry on. Im really impressed with some of the work that we see going on about how that is being integrated. We know some of the work that you guys have done already itegrating cycling provision with buses, exactly the right kind of stuff. And I think that's all we want is we don't want public transport being isolated away from these conversations. Because if we asked our to replan our towns or cities for walking and cycling, let's replan for public transport too because in a matter of days, you know, you know, literally, I'm sure was this podcast comes out, you know, the frequencies and all that, we'll all be there. So, I think yeah, we would have welcome a bit more helping in terms of promoting the positives of what public transport is offering now and what will it will soon be able to offer in the future as social distancing eases.

Tom :

So Alex, with the pace of change at the moment, I mean, think things are moving a lightning speed for everyone involved in you know, in scaling the operations back up,, the technology side, the driver rostering, the network scheduling and all those kinds ofthings, you mentioned the, you know, the amount of the work that's being done in those areas is much more than much more intense than it usually is. I, you know, one thing that struck us is that we were in a really privileged position to, you know, to, with the trust that you place in us to deliver these things on the software side. But when things are moving so quickly, sometimes, you know, the communication is less than perhaps it would be normally under normal circumstances. So I was kind of curious to know how that feels for you, as you know, where you've got things that are potentially being sort of pushed out to the customer, and perhaps hours after you've seen it yourself, you know, things are really, really, really quick. And that places a lot of trust in the teams. So yeah, I was wondering if you had any kind of thoughts about how that feels.

Alex :

Well, you know, well, we do trust you guys. I mean, you know, we trust you. Our customers trust and really value the work that you do you know, you can see that in the scores in the app rating store scores, people do trust that. And I think, you know, I think it well, it's a team effort as well, isn't it, I mean, we, we do our best to get the data, right quickly, we do our best to get that to you. And then that is uploaded in a way that the customer then you know, can then can then use it and trust it, and they must trust it, because look at how much they value. They value our app and value our website. I mean, duster for everyone to see. So yeah, I mean, I think you know, that that work is is immensely valued. And I think we, you know, it's it's, I think it's evident and the nature the collaboration that that we have with you, you know, we accept our but at the bargain is to get the data, right, and then you accept your bit as to how you translate that in a way that not just is correct for the customer, but is in a manner that the customer can use it and trust it very quickly. Because I think we've all seen ways in which customers are given correct information, but the manner in which he presented can be so awful that they don't trust it, or it's not updated, or all sorts of things that that can happen. But I think you know, what, what we've built up with Passenger an dwith you guys is that, you know, we work hard to get the data right quickly. And you work hard to, to to regurgitate it and sorry, that's a horrible word, isn't it? But I mean it in th best way possible...

Tom :

Presented beautifully ?

Alex :

Presented beautifully. Yeah, that's better thanks, Tom, in a way that in a way that customers, you know, and I think they trust it. I mean, trust, trust, obviously, is a big word, but I don't think they just trust what they do in terms of how they use our app. I mean, I think they like it. I lthink they ove it. You know, I think, you know, and so I think we go even beyond trust in a way and we've certainly got advocacy and advocacy is the ultimate, isn't it? So? Absolutely. So in terms of what we then do next in terms of crowdfunding information. I mean, now that relationship becomes a three way doesn't it in terms of hopefully how we, what we are due to determined to get it right, because we're really motivated by the customer, getting it right? You really join that party to present it in a in a way that you help us too. And then the customer then inputting as well, I mean, it's perfect, isn't it?

Tom :

You're right. The customer actually contributing, I dont think customers would really care as much if they weren't already advocates for what we're doing. Right. If if there bought in then then they're sort of like Yep, you know, we will contribute. And I suppose that's a really nice way to think about it in terms of, you know we've all got collectively, through the data and the presentation of that data, and all the hard work gone in over the last couple of years to a point where you know, the customer feels like they are part of it, and able to contribute to adding data, inputting data, that doesn't necessarily exist in a system. So that natural kind of requirement to get out to all the human brains sitting on a bus or standing at a bus stop and say, Well, you know, what does it look like from where you're sitting? That gives us an ability to sort of, you know, communicate to other passengers, whether there is space on the bus, that kind of thing. So but you're right, it comes down to people wanting to do that and feeling like they are, they have some kind of ownership of it in order to actually be bothered to do it in the first place.

Alex :

They see that valuableness quite instantly, it's not as if we're asking them for something that they wont in tern see value of. We really value the power of market research and all stuff like that. But we know sometimes you can't always get everybody can contribute that because they can't quite see what's in it for them. But I think with this straightaway, they can do because they'll be sitting on a bus, they'll be able to give a view of what they think about how busy it is. And then if they can contribute to that and then know that they will then in turn benefit from it, then yeah, hopefully we know we can really nail it.

Matt :

So let's talk a little bit about your about your vehicles and your systems at the moment. Can you tell us a little bit about the practicalities, the amount of cleaning, the extra effort you're putting in above your normal service that you're doing right now. And also, how well that's been received by your customers or whether it's passed without comment?

Alex :

So, so yeah, I mean, there's a tremendous amount of effort being put in and as well, you know, we're doing that with, with, with, in some ways less people and people working harder and people really embracing, you know, the mission were on at the moment in terms of delivering services to people at a critical time. So, yeah, you know, as I mentioned before, you know, we're quite proud of how we present our vehicles we present, you know, the nature of service to customers, you know, we, you know, we've got an intense cleaning regime, as we prepares buses for service to, you know, for the next day for its day in service. We've heightened that with you know, stronger use of disinfectants, stronger touchpoint cleaning, as we would say, where customers are in contact with services on the bus, and we've also introduced an antiviral mist that is a process that takes place on every single bus each evening, which gets to all the places that that obviously you can't normally reach with traditional cleaning methods. And so, you know, these are all things that are above and beyond what we normally do, but I imagine, these are things that will now stay with us. You mentioned before about lessons that we carry on, I think anything that makes buses cleaner, you know, is a good thing. And so, you know, we welcome the fact that thats motivatedus to make our claning standards even higher than what they were, and then and enjoy the day. You know, I mentioned before, you know, we've long you know, employed cleaners, in bus stations to clean buses in between journeys. And I think from our point of view, we've done that because we want the bus to be clean, but we will do that as well so the customer can see us cleaning the buses, we almost see that as a bit of a show. We brand up our cleaners and their kit and we you know, say look, we we train them to talk to customers and say just, you know, just we just wait a second, I'm just going to clean your bus for you. And so all our you know We've now you know, we've, we've tripled that resource that we've got out there. And we've, we've added it in more locations. So you know, you've got bosses out there now that are probably been cleaned, you know, three or four times during the day as well as then at night, because they're seeing all these points where we've got cleaning teams waiting to jump on the bus and clean. So yeah, so I think that from a from a cleaning perspective, that there's all that thing that is going on, and then in terms of vehicles, yeah, we you know, I'm not a fan of putting yellow and black crime scene tape over there. I think I've said that far too many times. Now. So that's becoming a bit of a cliche thing now. But yeah, you know, I hate the idea of buses being seen as as dangerous places. Yeah, yes, we've got to get across some really important safety information now and we've got to guide people because there are people who've been away from buses for months that you know, now want to come back so people will want to be guided is you know, they think it's a modern different world. But the communications we are putting out there is actually it isn't mad and different. You just got to be a little bit more aware of one or two things when you try And we've done that in our typical, upbeat, positive graphical style, that that is not full of dangerous and warning signs everywhere, it's more about things that you should do and things rather than things that you shouldn't do. And it's done in a way that matches are, as I say, our our upbeat brand style, and it is more just things like, you know, take a look when you're on the bus and make sure you know, you're sitting in a place that you've got space around you. We haven't gone for the for the, for the manner of blocking off seats all over the bus. Yes, we have closed seats that are close to the driver, and we've closed seats where people are facing each other. But quite frankly, these are the seats that people didn't like to sit on anyway, so so it doesn't so you know, and there the kind of seats that we try not to specify when we build new buses, you know, we believe you know, in forward facing seats because people like to face forward or look out of Windows. We don't like seats on buses that face each other because people don't like to face each other, or their knees knocking into each other, even more So now, you know, that's not seen as the best thing in terms of, you know, people being close to each other. So again, there's another lesson hopefully we can learn from, you know, we've always believed in spreading seats out and give a maximum leg room, you know, so, okay, it's more of, you know, that's more about centimetres than two metres apart, but it's just this kind of thing about people want personal space on buses. And that's one thing we do anyway, you know, on our, on our big services like 36, you know, the vehicles there have seats, that, you know, I often say they're designed so you don't realise that someone sitting next to you because they're so well spaced out, you know, with a two plus one seating arrangement, so people can spread out rather than the traditional industry approach of two plus two. And on those buses for an example, you know, we seat only 63 people in a double decker bus, whereas on a traditional London bus, you know, you're looking at, you know, you know, over 70 and then some of the provinces you're looking at over 80 and so if this motivates the industry, to get out of this idea of cramming people on, and this idea of spacing people out more and giving people more comfortable journeys, that hopefully that's another useful lesson from it. But you know,its something we believe in, you know, we talk to our customers, and particularly to get modal shift, they really want as much personal space as possible. And again, that does feed into some of the the exercises that everyone is doing now.

Matt :

So just a loop back to what you were saying in the beginning there about the increase in cleaning, if you're going to carry that moving forward, because obviously, that's three or four times more than you were necessarily doing back before. How you gonna manage to fund that? is the government talking about potentially continuing to fund you guys for a little bit longer to allow some kind of confidence from the public that these services will continue to be cleaned? And it doesn't just stop when suddenly the industry opens again? Or are you left to fund that yourself? Or you don't know yet?

Alex :

Well, yeah, in short, we don't know. But I think from our point of view, it's something that we see as a necessary, if we're going to get confidence back into the bus travel, you know, I cannot, we will not just cut that cleaning off, you know, you know, in six months or whatever, once the funding stops, we believe that's now a prerequisite for what our customers expect from us. And therefore if we want to grow, grow customer numbers back up to the levels they once were, or hopefully beyond, you know, let's try and be a bit ambitious, you know, and let's look at it. These are the kind of things we're going to going to have to do. So it now becomes part of our, you know, it may therefore become part of our cost base, and that's okay, that's a challenge in terms of where's that cost come from? How do we justify it, but that's certainly something that we just now see as a necessary because that's what customers want at the moment. There may be some things that we do they want less off, you know, that could be one, you know, potential business opportunity. But, you know, I've always believed in a package, customers want a package of things have not ended. Im not interested in deleting one and hoping that therefore they stay, I'd rather say this is the investment in, in a package of things, you know, friendly driver, buses being on time, great technology to support it from you guys, you know, comfortable seating, you know, all the stuff that we know, cleanliness, which was always up there in terms of their names, but it is a package and our what we need to do is, is get that package right. So we then grow. And every time we have done a service that has those package, we've got that growth, and therefore I've always said, well, it's justified it. So I don't want to try and do a project or initiative next, that deletes something out of the package. Because I don't want to risk only getting 5% growth instead of the 10% growth we've got last time, you know, I've not done that. So yeah, we just see this now as part of the new the new package of what customers want from our services. And we will carry on doing research with them to make sure we're getting it right and we're emphasising it alll in the right places.

Matt :

Well, I suppose that moves on to them. I mean, what's your hope for the potential outcome of like the next three or six months like, things are going to start to open up? Okay, and so in the next three to six months, how do you see the best outcome for TransDev or the bus industry as a whole? What are you looking to implement to help people return back?

Alex :

I think I think that the social distancing issue is a problem. And that that is something that that will create a barrier to growth. And I think that that's in terms of both perception. And also, you know, our ability to to deliver that growth because at the moment, social distancing rules are stating, you know, in a double decker bus that can normally seat you know, 60-70 people, you know, you're lucky if you're going to going to get more than sort of 20- 25 on so that's so that's a problem in itself in terms of, if the growth does come, how do we accommodate that quickly and easily, withe the resouses that we've got. So I think I think that that that's a challenge. And then, so I think that that's something we're, we're looking we're looking at very carefully. But I think, you know, as things open up, the research that we've done with with our customers here, we've got a sample of over 600 people. So, you know, we haven't just interviewed the diehards, or, you know, the enthusiasts, you know, we got a great cross section of people, um, you know, when we want those people that I mentioned in it, as well, because they're our customers. But in that, you know, we're only seeing that, you know, we're only seeing about a 10% drop off of people who are saying, you know, I'm not too sure if I'm going to return to the bus after this, because I'm unsure about cleaning and a few other things. You know, and I think this is and you know, when we studied what they've said, this is all perception based, it's not reality based because people are sitting at home and they're not, you know, they're not seeing what, they're not able to see what's going on in the world at the moment in some ways, you know, You know, how busses are lightly loaded now and how they're clean, safe and all the things that I keep on going on about. But the fact that, you know, our research is saying only a 10% drop off that to me says, Well, if we only really need to convince them, then we don't seem to have as tough a job, perhaps, as what some of the national stats are saying, Now, you know, we will look at everything, we'll look at all the information we're getting and all the sort of stats that are being produced. But it's really interesting to some of the local stuff and I know, we're not the only ones to quote, you know, a 10 percentage drop off once this is all over. So I know I'm not in a in a dream world here, but I don't think it will be as bad as it is once once other normal life is enabled. And once retail is enabled, and leisure and hospitality and workplaces. I mean, I am not expecting the reductions that are being quoted nationally which is anything up to you know, 70 - 80% you know, I don't see that happening. It took it took us, you know, days or even, you know, a week or so. we lagged behind some of the drop offs that we saw in the bigger cities. Because I think where we are, there is still a lot of traditional industry. I think there's still a lot of, you know, I hate to say traditional industry, but it's still a it's more sort of small industry, there's more manual labour, there's less office based work. And I think people will demand to want to be sociable with each other again, I don't think as many people will be wanting to talk at screens, as much as what other people are saying. Yes, I can see, you know, big companies, small companies, for that matter, want to get out of expensive city rents and things like that, and find they can do business another way. But are people really going to want to work from home for the rest of their lives talking to screens? I don't think so. And I don't think we see that we will see that in the towns and areas that we're serving. So I think that you know, once people are convinced it's safe and that perception is something that is overcome. I think, you know, we expect bus travel to join in those those sort of more positive realities of where of where everything else in our everyday lives will get to.

Matt :

Yeah, I think you're probably right. But if I would just take you back to something that you said at the beginning, which we talked about the government's message of don't use public transport, there's always going to be people that were on the fence before and do you worry that that may now have permanently perhaps, for even a generation, sway those people to not give up the car, you know, you've got the people that will have to use the bus because that was the only method of transport and the people used it occasionally that might use it less now or maybe use a bike, and you had people that were thinking, well, maybe I get to work using buses, there are more regular buses and stuff and they've just been told, do not use, you know, how do we undo that bit and you're worried about what that might have done?

Alex :

What what we found quite interesting was that that The Sunday or the Monday, whatever day it was that Boris Johnson said don't use public transport, we saw a 10% increase in usage in Blackburn.

Matt :

Oh Yes, go public! You just want to rally against the government!

Alex :

Yeah, it was only a 10% increase. But bear in mind this was a few weeks ago now when there was even less things to do. And so it was interesting that, you know, that that call was put out and the instant response from the people of Blackburn is that they should go and use buses, which is, which was quite interesting. But yeah, I think you're right, you know, there's a few people who are gonna have to work even harder at, you've got to remember as well, a huge part of our audience and our customer base are people that haven't got a choice. And yet people haven't got access to the transport modes and quite frankly, don't want other access to transport modes. They don't have cars don't want cars, they use the bus. The other really interesting fact is that we have inherited this is 55% have our customers have access to a car but use the bus? And okay, you could say, well, are they going to be thrown back on the fence now because of this messaging, but again, glass half full time, you know, we've worked really hard to get them and they walk past their car every day to get on a bus is a message from the Prime Minister saying don't use the bus? Is that is that going to be the thing that turns them when they're walking past their car every day? And these people are people, you know that, you know, they're walking past two cars on their driveway, you know, I mean, they're not people that are saying, Oh, I think I better save the pennies on my petrol. Yes, there are people who are doing that. And buses will always be better buy than say in a car or research and won't even car user says that. But you think well, if they are making such strong decisions in the face of all that, you know, how much of this will put them off in the long term? You know, in the short term? Yeah, I think you know, we're gonna have to work really, really hard to get levels back but I think in terms of the percent you know, the how people form their opinions to make that choice. You know, they've already made huge decisions for much, you know, and put much more things at stake in terms of, you know, buying a car and leaving a driveway to use a bus. And I think that if they can get over that hurdle, you know, I'm sure we can get them over this hurdle.

Matt :

Yeah, I think you're probably right. Or at least I like to hope that you're right.

Tom :

It's really interesting to hear how a blanket message from central government is interpreted in different different parts of the country. And I think, you know, what I'm hearing is that you interpret what you're hearing and you adjust it for what you know, in terms of your customer base, you know, that, you know, your customer and just, you know, reinforcing all of what the government is saying isn't necessarily exactly what it The reality is on the ground.

Alex :

No, indeed. I mean, and I was, you know, I was quoted in the press here, two weeks ago, you know, again, very upbeat saying, you know, 90% of people will come back and, and it was it was interspersed Within within an interview about something completely different. And of course the headline they chose was, you know, Harrogate boss boss says 90% of you are going to all come back to the bus, you know, almost like accusing the population an d I thought Oh God, here we go. And so I was waiting on social media saying this crackpot, you know, well, actually, we didn't get that we got we know, we got, you know, it was it was a really neutral response. But of course, now more than ever is the time when people are sitting at homes and can't wait to sort of pop at people on social media and stuff. But yeah, so it was quite an interesting test of that. Cuz again, you know, Harrogate is, you know, one of the towns that we serve, you know, is is a fairly, you know, lovely people quite well to do area in some respects. And so you think if you can convince, if you can, you know, I've always said harrogate's the kind of town that shouldn't be a great place to run buses and a successful place to run buses, but it is, and it's all because we talk to our customers, see what we want and we give them it and they want you know, they want things like the 36 and they don't even say bus, they say the 36 you know, it's a real badge of honour for them. You know, always believe, you know, ask customers what they want and give them it and they'll probably want to buy it. You know, it's as simple as that.

Matt :

Yeah, I mean, that seems like retail 101 - Im struggling to see how many people get that wrong though isn't it.

Tom :

One thing that I thought was really nice about listening to you, Alex. And that was the way you described. TransDev, I think, if TransDev was a person, how would you describe it?

Alex :

I've got to be careful now because I belong to, you know, we belong to quite a global family. So I've got to be quite careful how I would describe TransDev.

Tom :

It was great to hear you light up when you were when you were talking about it, though? It was Yeah, it was it was it is this feeling of passion in what you're doing? And that's certainly that that comes across on your on your social media and all your kind of, you know, the way you talk about the company and the way you talk about the team, which I think is a great inspiration to a lot of people and I think when people are looking for guidance, at pace, you know, I think the government might be setting out requirements. But I think, as I've kind of alluded to, the interpretation of that comes down to passion and drive. And I think, you know, real experience, and I think that's something that certainly came out when you were talking about it.

Alex :

Well, yeah, I mean, I love I love my job, you know that. And I say that to my boss too often, which probably doesn't get me much money because he thinks I love the job. So that's fine. But now, I mean, I do I sit, you know, I seriously, I love everything about what we do. I love getting up in the morning and coming to work, you know, I just do and whether that's makes me sad, or mad or whatever. But yeah, but now, you know, and, you know, we genuinely you know, the bus business is about people. And, you know, I do generally love the people that we work with as well because, you know, they believe in what we believe in, and so they make they help make it happen. And again, that might sound really cliche, but it's just something that it just it just works. So so you know, we like that and you got we got to anything without without our people to make that happen, and we've got to, we have to believe in that we have to believe in that. And we, we believe in talking to our customers and talking to our colleagues to the same level of quality and putting the same level of commitment into that to because because that's what makes that's what makes it that's what makes it happen. In terms of TransDev, I mean, again, I love working with TransDev because I think we do have the best of both worlds. We've got real autonomy to operate locally and to make local decisions. And TransDev trust us to do that. And we are not a typical TransDev business. You know, we are predominantly a b2c - customer gets on bus and we are we are motivated to deliver the best service we can to our customers to make them come back to us every day and that's where we get our income from. Whereas the majority of TransDev across the world is about delivering often contracted, you know franchise type services all over the world, and while that sounds a bit weird in a way, you could say, well, they're two totally different business models. But actually TransDevs ethos is we just do what what is right locally and what what the locality says we should deliver, we deliver it, and we employ people who were really motivated to deliver a high standard locally to do it. So that's how that that works. And indeed, you know, what's great about being in the group is that, you know, because we've got freedom in our deregulated environment to do innovation, and to be entrepreneurial and to be, you know, market led and customer led it means that then when we're then in a situation when we're, they did for things that are, you know, government controlled, or whatever we want to call it, they can point to us and say, Well, look, you know, I have the ability and understand this over here, which isn't something you might have wanted, but look, it's happened over here and it's at its delivery. And, you know, you know, the apps that we do you guys, I mean we we show that off all the time, too. Everybody, and we, you know, when, when we are told, You know what, you know, often sometimes a group, you know, they want to get best practice and Hey, why don't we all look at using this app that's made over there? And then when we say we'll look at this one, this is better. They leave us alone. Or, you know, and I'm not saying that to scoff at them again, it's just because they just genuinely believe "Well, if that's the right situation, if that's the right solution for you locally, then go and use it". And so that really motivates us. Because we've got a real sense of achievement to deliver what is the local decision, we can see the results of our efforts locally, we can enjoy the results of our efforts locally. But then we've got the support of a group that isn't just there to, you know, financially support us, but actually are good cheerleaders to what we do as well, because they believe in what we do.

Matt :

Certainly sounds like you've got the right level of support above you. So that's really great to hear, because I suggest that that's probably going to make sure that you guys come out of this and do hit some of those optimistic numbers that perhaps you're looking for. Alex, thank you so much for joining us today really appreciate you taking the time.

Alex :

Great. Great to speak to you guys as well as ever.

Matt :

Next week we'll be talking to members of the Passenger team. We wanted to give some insight some of the challenges of delivering features at pace. More specifically, we'll be talking about enhanced vehicle information and capacity planning a hot topic as people are beginning to make their way back to public transport. If you've any questions for us, feel free to get in contact via Twitter @makingpassenger Until next time!