Sue Stevens is Reading Buses’ first woman bus driver to be elected branch secretary of Unite, the trade union. She scored more votes in the election than the second and third candidates (both male) combined. The operator’s branch of the union has just under 400 members and its history goes back to the days of the trams in Reading.
Reading Buses CEO, James Freeman, said, ‘As always we welcome the election of a new senior trade union official within our company as working closely with Unite is an important part of what we do. Having our first female branch secretary at this juncture reflects the changing gender balance in Reading Buses and the ever increasing role being played by women in our business and in society as a whole.’
Reading Buses CEO, James Freeman, has said the 11 ADL bodied Scania gas buses in his fleet ‘have been operating faultlessly’ over the four months they have been in operation. They are being used on Reading Borough Council’s greenwave routes. It is three months since the rest of the 20 strong gas bus fleet were put into service on its scarlet 9 and bronze 11 routes. Within a few weeks, a gas compression station will be in operation, eliminating the company’s need for tankers to deliver the gas to fuel these vehicles.
James said, ‘It makes a pleasant change when a fleet of new buses works within the box. And it’s even better when those new buses incorporate a brand new technology. Scania told us that with fewer than 40 parts different from the standard diesel version the gas buses would be easy to operate and we are really delighted with their performance to date. The careful work put in by body builders ADL into the detailed design of some of the features, especially the arrangement of the driver’s cab and entrance, has been welcomed by drivers. The gas buses are cleaner and smoother and cheaper to run. Another 14 similar vehicles are on order for delivery in March 2014. This will bring the proportion of green buses, both electric hybrid and diesel, to almost half the Reading Buses fleet which must make it one of the greenest fleets in the country.’
For the second consecutive year, Reading Buses will be running special buses to take the town’s residents home on the final night of the Reading Festival on 25 August. Three routes will provide direct connections to south and west Reading, as well as the town centre. The council contracted ‘Night Track’ buses do not normally run on a Sunday night, but will do on this occasion. Meanwhile, the operator is to provide its customary shuttle service from Reading Station to the Festival and back. In addition, buses will run across the weekend to and from Friar Street, allowing revellers to stock up on provisions in the town centre. As last year, the flat fare on all these journeys remains £1.
Reading Buses has completed its Driver CPC training five months ahead of target.
Over 300 of the company’s existing drivers at Reading and Newbury depots have undertaken the 35 hours of periodic training required to achieve the qualification. The training courses are run by the company’s own training centre, its Academy and include a customer needs awareness course where drivers have an interactive session with a range of customers with a disability. Drivers also undertake a business awareness course, which shows where the money comes from and goes and how drivers themselves can help to improve the business by attending to the needs of customers. They learn how particular actions by individual members of staff can have a significant impact on costs. The training also includes another course on how to deal with a large number of school children on a bus. The company s committing itself to giving every driver 14 hours training each year from 2014, double the CPC minimum.
Reading Buses Academy Manager, Mick Hughes, said, ‘We started driver CPC training in September 2008 and our target was to complete the training for all existing drivers by September 2013. We achieved our target five months ahead of schedule. Of course, it doesn’t end there. On the contrary, our courses will carry on as the need for training increases as we get more and more professional at what we do. We have found that all this training has a very real impact on our performance for our customers and has helped us to win awards for what we do – which is very satisfying.’
Pic: Reading Buses Driving Instructor, Chris Vest (standing) with a group of CPC trainees.
Tony Pettitt has taken the newly created role of Director of Resources at Reading Buses. The new position replaces that of Finance Director and reflects Tony’s wider skill base as well as recognising the abilities of the current Reading Buses finance department, which will now be led by Karen Borton, a qualified accountant. Karen has been promoted to the new role of Reading Buses Chief Accountant responsible to Tony Pettitt. Tony first became involved in public transport when he worked for Dyfed County Council in the 1980s. He worked in consultancy for Berkshire County Council before becoming a founder member of Transept, the Theale based transport consultancy. Five years ago, he set up his own company, Carnmenyn Consulting. It is in this capacity that he twice stepped in to assist Reading Buses when they were in between appointments, with the most recent stint leading to this new role. He will be closing down his own company to enable him to take up a full time appointment with Reading Buses from September.