Cardiff Bus hosted the prestigious Association of Local Bus Company Managers (ALBUM) Annual Conference last week in City Hall, Cardiff.
ALBUM provides a forum to exchange best practice among its members and to influence policy, for the promotion of high-quality services that encourage more people to travel by bus.
The association has existed for over 30 years and was formed in October 1984 when deregulation of the bus industry was under political consideration.
The theme of this years’ Conference was “The bus as a force for good”.
Cynthia Ogbonna, Managing Director of Cardiff Bus addressed bus industry leaders from across the UK.
“We are coming out of the shadow of other modes of transport.
“This is the first time for over a decade that ALBUM has held its conference in Wales and you can see how much Cardiff has to offer. Since ALBUM was last here, there has been a transformation in the way that public transport is viewed in Wales.
“It’s not just that we now have a fully devolved national railway system in Wales, but what we’ve also seen is the passing of much wider legislation requiring effective public transport to see it implemented.
It’s vital for linking communities together, especially neighbourhoods where we can make all the difference to citizens being able to access the essentials of life – including a job.”
Speaking of the environmental impact buses can have on the reduction in carbon emissions, Cynthia Ogbonna went on to say, “The Environment Act commits us to achieving an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases in Wales by 2050.
The Active Travel Act encourages walking and cycling but also using those modes to access public transport such as buses for longer journeys.
The Well Being of Future Generations Act requires us all to take a joined-up approach to addressing our social, economic, environmental and cultural issues- I would argue that the bus is pivotal to all those issues.
It’s vital if we are to have any hope of reducing the contribution from transport to greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions. We know that we will can make a massive contribution to tackling climate change.”
Last week a “climate emergency” was declared by the Welsh Government following protests demanding politicians take action on climate change.
This was the first such motion to be passed anywhere in the world, followed just an hour later by the motion carried in the House of Commons in Westminster.
Cynthia Ogbonna addressed this motion, saying,
“Whilst the bus is a vital tool in the fight against climate change, we face many challenges before we can fully address that mission. The same challenges in Wales as our colleagues from across the UK.
When addressing the increase of private-hire taxi companies such as Uber and their impact on the bus industry, Cynthia Ogbonna said, “Patronage is under pressure, as ever, from the private car and traditional private hire, but this is now amplified by disruptive technologies including ride-hailing apps and the propensity to travel for shopping and leisure is under pressure from online retail and stay-at-home leisure activities.
“The additional private hire and delivery vehicle journeys these lifestyle changes generate add to congestion and congestion makes it harder for bus operators to maintain schedules, retain the loyalty of our customers and sustain the morale of our dedicated employees.
“We can guarantee to get our customers to their destinations but it is hard for us to operate totally reliable timetables – that must be our objective.
She then went on to question how do the bus industry go on to “fulfil the potential of the bus as a force for good”.
“ Cardiff Bus – like many other ALBUM members – has embraced technological change to retain and grow the loyalty of our customers.
“We’ve introduced contactless payment and other innovative payment methods and we’ve deployed systems – such as social media and our mobile app – to improve access to reliable information.
“We want to work with all the technology suppliers here today to make the bus the most attractive form of transport.”
Cynthia went on to discuss the population increase and how it could have a possible impact on the bus industry, saying,
“Our city is expected to grow by 25% in the next ten to fifteen years with huge expansion forecast in housing and city centre employment.
“New housing is being designed around public transport with the Council’s aim being at least a 50% share of public transport use by those living there.
“Cardiff is getting a light rail metro system – and that’s a wonderful development.
“Cardiff Bus actually started out as the operator of the old municipal tram system here which was closed decades ago.
“So we welcome and well understand the opportunities for our network being part of an integrated public transport system for our capital city in the future- yet the bus offers more sustainable travel right now.
“Our industry truly is a force for good.”