> SRC President talks buses

Last term a number of problems affected the Ulink service.

UWE managers met daily with Wessex Connect managers to go through these problems and to look at feedback received from customers. This feedback was largely from the U-text service, emails received and meetings with myself on a regular basis. UWE managers also travelled on the service on a daily basis to experience issues first hand.

As a result of the above a completely new management team is now in place at Wessex Connect. This includes the following:

  • Operations director – Responsible for all bus service operations.
  • U-link liaison officer – This is a new position dedicated to monitoring bus performance against timetables and generally improve operational efficiency.
  • 3 Inspectors – These are also new positions to ensure that all buses adhere to timetables as best they can, cognisant of the congestion issues in the city.
  • Bus allocator – Replacement personnel to ensure buses leave the depot on time in the morning. The result of this has been that 97% of buses left as scheduled during December.

Furthermore second stage interviews are ongoing to recruit a new Regional Director.

During the first term additional buses were introduced on the U2, U4 and U5 services where it was evident that demand exceeded supply.

As a direct result of UWE management experiencing the Ulink service first hand certain aspects of timetables have been amended to better take account of heavily congested areas therefore making the timetables more accurate. These changes will come into effect in February due to the statutory 56 days notice that has to be given to the traffic commissioner. This is ongoing and all routes are due to be reviewed.

Due to complaints fed back through the U-text process about driver conduct Wessex Connect took the opportunity to deliver driver training refresher courses in improved customer care and defensive driving during the Christmas break.

Where do we go from here?

Plans for 2011 pickup from where 2010 left off. I’ve been assured that Transport management will continue to experience all Ulink services first hand in order to see what it’s like themselves so they can determine what further improvements can be made.

In the longer term, the University are currently out to tender to identify which operator (For example Wessex Connect, First buses, Go-Ahead) will offer the best deal for Ulink users in the new Academic year and beyond. The tender process asks operators how they will deal with current issues which have been identified via student feedback such as punctuality, extra buses, passenger safety and additional mechanisms for rapid corrective action where needed.

It’s great to see everyone still U-texting as it’s proved to be a brilliant means of getting the student voice heard about the U-link service. I would advise that when using the U-text please include as many details as possible (bus number, time, location, number plate, other relevant info) as it helps to identify key areas/services where there are issues.

Colin Offler.