Saturday 27 April 2013

Jack (or Christine) in the Box?

Christine Stuart is a First Bus driver ...
... in a large cardboard box in front of her bus. Strange goings on in Aberdeen?
Very strange indeed for the once reviled "Worst Bus"!

This was their announcement last Thursday (24th April):-

The city's leading bus operator ...

... First Aberdeen, today launched a new voucher initiative designed to raise money for a good cause and encourage more people to use the bus.

20,000 households across the city will receive a leaflet this week from First Aberdeen which contains a free £1 travel voucher that can be used on any First Aberdeen bus service.

First has promised that for every voucher redeemed, it will donate £1 to Macmillan Cancer Support. This will help Macmillan continue to provide practical, emotional, financial and medical support to around 7,000 people living with a cancer diagnosis in the city, so that no-one has to face cancer alone.

Backing the initiative was bus driver, Christine Stuart, from Mastrick in Aberdeen, who has been driving for First for nine years. She said, "Macmillan is a charity that is very close to my heart. I know lots of people, including some of my colleagues, that have suffered from cancer and Macmillan have always been a great support. This is a brilliant promotion and I hope the people of Aberdeen use the vouchers and get on my bus to support Macmillan."

Meanwhile Duncan Cameron, First Aberdeen's Director and General Manager, said, "We hope that by providing two extra incentives to travel by bus, a £1 travel voucher and a £1 donation to Macmillan, it will encourage more people to consider using the bus more often."

O.K., a £20k donation is small change for the giant First Bus; likewise the potential £20,000 loss of fares revenue will hardly create total financial collapse; but it's the attitude that matters. However cynical we might be about the corporate world and charity, it does show that the company thinks that there is more to running buses than just making money.

The positive spin continues ...

First Aberdeen's punctuality and reliability performance has never been better with 95% of all services leaving their terminus on time. 

The company is in the middle of a fleet refresh programme which will improve the exterior and interiors of many of its buses.

In 2013 the company will be investing in a number of brand new buses.
In its most recent fares review (March 2013) First confirmed that it would freeze or reduce the majority of its ticket types and continue making special offers.
First has launched a "Customer Promise" whereby passengers can claim a free travel voucher if they are unhappy with any aspect of the service (within First's control).

First Aberdeen has secured the services of 13 regular customers to form a Customer Panel to provide mystery shopper evaluations on its bus services.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Will fares offers be sustained or will there be over-the-top increases once extra passengers are locked in to discounted goodies?
First Bus "Summer" offer Plymouth to Saltash
courtesy Plymothian Transit blog.

Equally, from the company's bottom line point of view, will the offers generate sufficient extra business to cover the cost of the discounts and more. In the end this is not just about being nice to customers, it's about reviving and growing a business that had become turgid and moribund.

Ultimately, it is in everybody's long-tern interests to see a better, even a successful First.
On a slightly less extrovert note, readers will remember the rather feeble fares protest a while back in Bristol. See "Bristolians are Revolting [1]" (read again) and "Bristolians are Revolting [2]" (read again). The response from First Bus was to commission an independent company to "consult" the people. Government "consultations" seem to be designed to befuddle and obfuscate, leaving our honoured leaders to do just what they wanted anyway. fbb did wonder how real First's proposal might be.

BUT ...
... something is definitely happening as here at Cribbs Causeway shopping "mall".

Independent? Maybe, we shall see.

 Next Bus Blog : Sunday 28th April 


  1. The photo is not at Cribbs. That is the first stand at Clifton Down !

  2. Thanks Anon : I was guessing - wrongly!