Robert Andrew, the Regional Director of Stagecoach Scotland addressed the Aberdeen meeting on "Delivering Organic Passenger Growth" on Tuesday 30 October 2007
Robert Andrew, Regional Director, Stagecoach Scotland, at the Aberdeen meeting when he spoke on "Delivering Organic Passenger Growth".
© John G. Fender 2011
Robert Andrew began his presentation by outlining the structure of Stagecoach Scotland. The company has three main divisions, each trading in different areas of Scotland. Stagecoach Bluebird operates in Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Moray, and the Highland Council areas. In the Inverness area the company trades as Stagecoach in Inverness. The company's boundaries match those of Nestrans and Hitrans, the two statutory Regional Transport Partnerships for the area.
Stagecoach East Scotland operates in the SEStran and Tactran areas and trades as Stagecoach in Fife, Stagecoach in Perth and Stagecoach Strathtay. The company has operations throughout Fife and in Perth and Kinross, Dundee City and Angus, as well as cross boundary services. In the west of Scotland Stagecoach trades as Stagecoach Western and Stagecoach in Glasgow and has operations in Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and part of Glasgow. The boundaries of Stagecoach West Scotland match those of SPT and Swestrans. In addition, Stagecoach Group has an interest in the Citylink joint venture.
Turning to the company's performance, Robert Andrew looked at some recent figures and in the their financial year 2006-2007, the company had a turnover of £135 million and carried 88 million passengers. There is a peak vehicle requirement of 1200 and the company operated 72 million miles. To achieve this the company employs 3250 staff. Investment in the business plays an important part with 125 new vehicles being delivered in 2007-2008 at a cost of approximately £17.5 million.
Although the last three years the company has seen passenger numbers grow by 7.4% as opposed to 1.3% for Scotland as a whole. This has been achieved by introducing a number of initiatives in the Stagecoach East Scotland area, examples being the "Taylink 99" service operating between Dundee and St. Andrews; the Tayway network; Ferrytoll Park and Ride; the "Airdirect747.com" service to Edinburgh Airport and the new Goldline service in Perth. Innovative marketing has also played a major part in these initiatives and this has resulted in spectacular rates of passenger growth. For example the Taylink 99 has seen a year on year growth of 42%, whilst the Ferrytoll Park and Ride has seen a year on year growth rate of 44%. The Airdirect747 has seen a year on year growth of 87%.
Such has been the success of the Taylink 99 service that it received the "Travel Information and Marketing" award at the 2007 Scottish Transport Awards in recognition of the innovative promotion of the service since its relaunch in May 2006.
Meanwhile, Stagecoach West Scotland has re-branded a number of key services including the X77 express between Ayr and Glasgow. This service is now operated by double deck tri-axle Neoplan coaches. The X76 service is now operated by coaches with of wheelchair lifts and the new X16 express service between Ayr and East Kilbride has been introduced in partnership with SPT and has proved to be exceedingly successful.
One of Stagecoach's new Neoplan Double Deck coaches used on the X77 service leaving Glasgow's Buchanan Bus Station.
© John G. Fender 2007
New fully DDA compliant buses built by Wrights have been introduced on service 500 operating between Stranraer and Dumfries. The Three Towns service 18 operating in the Saltcoats and Stevenston areas has benefited from the introduction of new vehicles operating an increased frequency, providing a 10 minute service. Another service in Ayrshire that has been improved is service at 49 between Cumnock and Logan. Further south, the Dumfries town network was revamped and a fleet of new Optare Solo buses introduced. Finally in the west of Scotland, the X25 express service between Glasgow and Cumbernauld has seen an increase in frequency to every 20 minutes to cope with the increasing demand.
Turning to Stagecoach Bluebird, Mr. Andrew said that it is really three businesses, these being Aberdeenshire including, the cross boundary services to Aberdeen; Moray; and Inverness and Easter Ross. Stagecoach Bluebird achieved a turnover of £37 million in 2006-2007 with 23 million miles being operated by a fleet of 382 vehicles. These carried some 16 million passengers. New investment for the coming year includes 23 new vehicles at a cost of £2.8 million.
With their investment in new vehicles, the company has one of the greenest fleets in the country and in the Nestrans area 85% of the fleet are Euro 2 or better whilst in the Hitrans area 93% of the fleet is Euro 2 or better. Stagecoach Bluebird has seen passenger growth in 2006 - 2007 of 7% in Aberdeen City and surrounding area, 8.6% in Moray and 5.9% in Inverness. The overall passenger growth for Scotland covering all operators is 1%.
These growth figures have been achieved by a number of initiatives including, for example, the Aberdeen - Stonehaven - Montrose Coastrider service has seen a growth rate of 19% due to the investment in the service using bus route development grant in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council. The Buchan Link has seen a growth rate of 5% in 2006 - 2007 and the Royal Deeside service was upgraded in July 2007 with the introduction of high quality vehicles and has seen a growth of 18% to date.
In The Moray area the company has achieved a growth of 10% overall on the A96 trunk corridor services and has introduced new vehicles at Elgin. All bus workings of from Elgin depot are operated by vehicles that meet DDA specification. In Inverness there has been a growth of 6% but owing to traffic management changes in February and reduced parking charges in June, the city centre has seen increased traffic congestion with the result that passenger numbers are now declining at up to 1% a year.
In Easter Ross improvements to services have resulted in better connections and with the new vehicles that have been delivered there are now only 3 non DDA vehicles in the Highland area.
Passengers want reliable services with smart, warm and clean vehicles driven by friendly drivers and simple ticketing systems. Passengers are also want simple timetables. However to achieve this a partnership approach is vital and this involves central government, regional transport partnerships, and local authorities. Stagecoach is keen to introduce bus passenger priorities and, in partnership with local councils, develop car parking regimes. A key area of development is the introduction of on-line sales.
At the 2007 Scottish Transport Awards, Stagecoach Bluebird, in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council, received the Bus Award for the Stonehaven Quality Bus Corridor and Coastrider service. These have been improved by Stagecoach Bluebird through a successful Quality Partnership initiative with the Council.
Another important initiative is the provision of tax free bus travel to work. Under this scheme employees benefit by receiving an annual bus pass that the employee pays for every month direct from their salary. This supports the government's green travel policy and is income tax and National Insurance exempt for the employee. This means that there are potential savings of up to 41% for a higher rate taxpayer. This then encourages employees to use local bus services to travel to and from work and is suitable for all employers. Employees can use the bus pass at any time, provided that the majority of the journey made are to and from work. Employers also benefit from the National Insurance savings of up to 12.8%.
The key benefits to the employer are that the scheme is self funding and costs could be covered by savings on National Insurance. Stagecoach already has a quick and simple on-line process for applications and this means that there is limited administration required by the employer. A single monthly invoice is supplied and deductions are taken from the employee's salary. The scheme is easy to implement and can result in better staff retention. It also supports companies' green travel plan policies and assists businesses where there is a shortage of car parking space.
The tax benefits that were introduced as part of the 1999 Finance Act and no income tax liability arises in respect of financial support for the public transport service provided that the bus service is used mainly for qualifying journeys. All employees must have access to the benefit and the prices should not be cheaper than publicly available equivalents. Stagecoach offers its annual Megarider tickets as this is the best available value and this scheme is being rolled out for all services across the entire Stagecoach UK Network. Stagecoach can offer contact with a management agency able to support the employer in setting up the scheme.
Further information on Stagecoach can be found on the Stagecoach Group website at www.stagecoachgroup.com and information on Stagecoach's bus operations at www.stagecoachbus.com. Information on Megabus can be found at www.megabus.com/
The Scottish Region would like to thank Robert Andrew for his presetation and assistance with this report.
Report by John Fender.
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