Friday, 24 June 2016

The Greyhound and The Fox Part 6

But First : The Omnibological Referendum
A tea room in Little Braxted adorned by an LT "r3ed bus" bus stop flag.
A bus in Hull ...
... although fbb has not been able to find out which bus it was. If the smooth floor is anything to go by, it was not a bus currently used in service!

Just spotted it. East Yorkshire (EYMS) single deck pictured in ITV news. Too quick to photograph.

And from 1979ish, a bus parked in a field in Bardfield.

CityFox Responds
Tuesday's blog caused a bit of a kerfuffle, although its content was factual, being a list of the companies that form the CityFox Group and their activities according to reliable Bristol bus watchers. Rhys Hand ...
... MD of the group has occasionally responded on-line to others; this from a riposte to comments in a forum for West Midlands bus people. It was a lengthy reply and fbb here quotes from some of the less specific items.

In July 2014, I decided (madly) to start a taxi business. Currently we have 18 Hackney taxis operating in Bristol and most can be found at Temple Meads Station. I am happy with our trading situation in Bristol and feel we have a strong team.

In September 2014, we enquired about the sale of Whittle Bus & Coach, We viewed the business with Barclays and secured finance to purchase. We discovered there were many outstanding debts and the bus business had been allowed to run into the ground to the point it was not viable.

November 2014, we looked at the sale of the Western Greyhound business, and submitted a offer. This was rejected and was subsequently sold to Micheal Bishop for £20k. We knew the state and investment it needed and that reflected in our offer price.

In January 2015, we met with Barclays and finalised a business plan to create KernowFox. We acquired the remaining buses and assets of Cornwall Busways.

In March 2015, we viewed and looked at the remaining assets of Western Greyhound. We have submitted offers and I have been told (Monday this week) that they'll get back to us in the next few weeks. Summercourt still is yet to be disposed of and its still full of equipment.

Of course, things have moved on since this exchange was published. Phys concludes:-

What I will ask is to please stop the negativity, if KernowFox goes '---s' up fine, then go for it. But this industry is tough, and we all, enthusiasts, industry workers and business owners need to stick together. I want this to work, I want to give people of Cornwall a bus service they can rely on.

The response to Tuesday's blog, however came from Phil Stockley, boss of T M Travel and, unknown to fbb, a personal friend of Rhys Hand.
So here are some of the points Phil has clarified.

Does CityFox (Bus) have an "O" (operators') licence?

fbb did ask whether bus enthusiasts could be informed which company will be operating the 15 minute frequency "Pride" shuttle on 9th July ...
... but Bristol bus nuts will have to wait and see as no detailed info has been received.

What is the status of the much photographed blue bus?

How many taxis does the company have; very few are seen?

Are you happy to be quoted?
fbb also asked about Taxi Operations in Plymouth but no reply was received.
Phil Stockley is a respected bus manager and regular writer in Buses Magazine, and fbb is sure that readers of this blog will appreciate the value of his support for the CityFox group.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this catalogue of misunderstandings, it is surely that multiple twitter accounts and multiple facebook pages are easily misunderstood.
Aspirations and ideas can come over as fact and reasoned criticism, because of the brevity inherent in "social media" can appear blunt and uncaring. 

fbb will be following the group's development with interest and wishes the enterprise all the success that it deserves.

And from RouteOne on-line magazine back in April:-

Phil Stockley is to be Transdev Blazefield’s new Marketing and Commercial Director, starting in August.

He joins from Wellglade and brings 25 years’ experience in senior roles within the bus industry at FirstGroup, Stagecoach, Go-Ahead, as well a period of owning his own bus company, Black Velvet, on the South Coast.
Transdev's boss Alex Hornby ...
... says, “This latest appointment will help ensure we won’t miss a beat and carry on, full force, with our business improvement plans to build an even better Transdev Blazefield. Phil’s skills in the marketing and commercial disciplines will really help us drive the business forward and allow us to seek further opportunities for growth across the north.”

But this is not now happening according to Phil on this blog. The change is no secret, just a reevaluation all round.

But best wishes to Phil whatever!

 Next mixed bag blog : Saturday 25th June  


  1. And after five blogs' worth I don't think we are really any richer in knowledge as to what the company is all about. I do feel as a passenger that I am being somewhat mislead by the company's statements online which don't transpose into reality.

    I wish anyone well who attempts to enter the transport market these days. Long gone are the days when the likes of Terrier, SheafLine, Omnibus et al were starting up and the imposition of quality contracts, partnerships and franchises would surely put paid to anyone's thoughts of making it in the industry without any significant investment with a massive risk attached to it.

    The internet is a powerful thing, both good and bad, which Rhys appears to need a little prod in the right direction and specifically someone with Phil's credentials. He's obviously seen something in Rhys (so to speak) and I doubt very much that he has "backed the wrong horse" and will bring a wealth of knowledge to a young chap who is willing and able to drink from the cup.

    I think the brand that's been created is credible, but with some uncomfortable activities in my mind would tarnish such an image. Mud does indeed stick. I'm not suggesting you can compare CityFox to First, but the latter is an example when the brand gets a good old lashing, the house can come tumbling down. A corporate image can make or break a business and simply due to some ill-thought actions or comments and this needs to have a lid put on it if Rhys is serious about developing the company and having such an image online.

    Personally, I hope that it works and Phil can invest time in him and teach some of the other skills that are required. Granted that he has an eye for design and credit should be given for that, but don't ruin the positives by doing the negatives. It's an unforgiving world and people will always spot the flaw or chink in your armour.

    I don't think we will ever get to the bottom of what happened on previous yesterdays as it's as clear as mud. What does need to happen now is a refocus on his personal image to the outside world if he wants to make that public and a touch more honesty and conviction.

    These are turbulent times for the bus industry at the moment and if Rhys is serious about making a niche in the south-west then we as members within that should afford support as it seems Phil is doing.

    Rhys - the industry will be watching with interest at your next plans. Prove them wrong and you will have a very successful career in a unique but wonderful industry. Good luck.

  2. The Wheelers bus was returned by mutual agreement. Lol.
    Wheelers were hunting for it round Btistol to grab it back.

  3. Just look around for comments about the wheelers bus it would seem Mr hand owed some one money

  4. The haters will hate. Fair play to Rhys and Cityfox i really hope it's successful i have seen loads of taxis at temple meads station with Cityfox names on them and they look very smart it isn't hard to find them leave the chap alone

  5. I'm sure the Western Traffic Commissioner will be interested to learn of Cityfox's method of bus operation. Asking your mate for an o disc and a set of legal lettering whenever you want to run a bus might not be viewed so innocently by the TC.

    The TC helpfully defined 'fronting' (which is what is going on here) in a recent written decision, which Phil would be well aware of:

    "37. ‘Fronting’ was helpfully defined in the case of 2012/071 Silvertree, where the Upper Tribunal stated: ‘.. ‘fronting’ occurs when appearances suggest that a vehicle, (or fleet), is being operated by the holder of an operator’s licence when the reality is that it is being operated by an entity, (i.e. an individual, partnership or company), which does not hold an operator’s licence and the manner in which the vehicle is being operated requires, if the operation is to be lawful, that the real operator holds an operator’s licence. I am entitled to know whom I am regulating. It is of utmost importance that those who are directing a business so as to be the controlling mind are properly registered as directors at Companies House and CLO."

    On my last visit to Bristol I didn't see ANY Cityfox taxis despite being in the vicinity of Temple Meads for much of my visit. I would expect to have seen one given the apparent importance of Temple Meads to the company's operations.

    1. Great to see your positive comments. I would assume CityFox acts as an agent, which isn't illegal at all. Many operators do it. A brand is just a brand, what's on the side of the bus isn't important.

      Good luck to Rhys & Phil

  6. Anon @ 1335 appears to have got completely the wrong end of the stick. CityFox does not claim to hold an 'o' licence and is purely a brand name. The operator who's name appears on the legal lettering and 'o' licence is the operator that the TC can hold to account, and nobody is lending their mate anything. And given that CityFox does not actually claim to run bus services that would require an 'o' licence the question is moot anyway. I've already made it quite clear that if the company chooses to enter the field of local bus operations again as an entity in its own right it will seek the necessary licence. In the meantime, it's purely a brand name. If it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a different brand name on the side than the one that appears on the 'o' licence, it would make all operators indulging in route branding guilty of 'fronting' and would make National Express (to pick one example) the biggest example of fronting in the industry - which of course they are not.

    1. Check the Revised guidance and directions for road transport regulations what city fox does is Quite illegal

    2. As usual, typical negative comments. Would be more helpful if you knew what you were talking about. What they do is fine. And well above board, and the TC is more Than aware

    3. So you don't think an 'operator' who ticks the box marked 'publicity' should receive any negative comment? They should be beyond reproach and comment at all times?

    4. Personally I don't think that, but there is a huge difference between 'comment', and unsubstantiated allegations of unlawful practices, from behind the screen of 'Anonymous'

  7. I have come across this in my usual curious quest to discover who's who and what they do in the industry. Alarmed at what I read is a bit if an understatement to be honest, various forums and blogs blah blah blah quoting on topics that are at best pure speculation.
    Having worked myself with Phil Stockley I can honestly say I have not come across many in the transport industry that have his level of experience, drive and the will to see things be successful.
    I have also recently worked with Rhys Hand, I was somewhat sceptical when first coming across him, however time has proven that he has a passion for the industry that is rarely seen in someone his age.
    I personally would prefer for the guy to be given the chance to prove himself within the industry, and I can assure many of the vast army of doubters that he is well on his way to doing just that.
    Sadly many contributions and comements of hatred come from individuals that have only a passing interest in the industry and come complete with their rose tinted glasses

    1. Hello Rhys i hope your well

    2. I am fine.

      Whoever you are, I hope you are well too.

  8. Reading between the lines, I imagine that TM Travel will become VelvetFox?

  9. Apparently the mystery operator of the Bristol Pride shuttle buses has been reported as City of Oxford (!) but I can't find any photos online to prove or disprove it.