Well, it has taken long enough and to be honest I am not really sure why it has taken so long, but, at last there is a growing momentum that there does indeed need to be a national narrative, as detailed in the open letter to the bus industry that I have previously blogged about recently. So, what then am I banging on about it again I hear you ask?
Simple answer is that it is too important and valuable not to get behind it and add whatever possible support can be given to ensure that the key Industry players can rally around the flag. The Bus and Coach Forum colours will be well and truly hammered to the mast. Fortunately the holy trinity of Andrew Hunter, John Carr, and Ana Walker, who are carrying the torch for the Forum and have done a brilliant job in ensuring the value, topicality, and influence of the forum. An excellent example of this is in the revived Bus and Coach committee membership.
In my ten years of being involved I do not think that there has been such an energised and senior decision making group. And not to put too fine a point on it, any committee, Forum or group, are only as able to influence anything if they have the capability to make decisions and influence change. Otherwise what is the point, I have seen the best and worst of such groups.One experience that I vividly recall came when I used to attend the very early days of the now excellent, but then fledgling Safety and Logistics Forum. This Forum was formed in 2013 with a remit of improving safety across the transport and logistics industry. It was the brain child of Graham Ingliss formally CEO DHL, and President of CILT, 2013.
His vision inspired a small group of us from across transport sectors to see how and what we could do to help improve safety standards. I was invited to join as the Bus chap, and was delighted to get involved as it gave me real exposure to the Logistics and Freight Industry about which frankly I knew very little. I attended several meetings hosted by logistics giants like DHL, Wincanton, and Screwfix. This invariably offered a very nice buffet lunch, not that I ever bothered. I recall that on three occasions a elderly chap would usually show up, on average about half an hour late. He would shuffle in, apologise for being late and start making notes, invariably at the appointed lunch hour this chap was the first to get his nose into the trough. Now I do not know about you but I have always felt there is an unspoken protocol around the world of free buffets. You do not fill your plate with the obvious favourites, ideally a modest collection of popular and less popular goodies should be evenly distributed. What you do not do is what this chap did which was stack, scoff, and re-load, with what I can only call indecent haste, even before some attendees have actually had a first go.
Funny thing is human nature being what it is, everyone actually notices this poor form, but no one actually does anything about it. However, after three meetings where I observed Mr Ganet, not just stuffing his face, but even worse sneaking left overs into his rucksack. Now, to be fair, this is taking the proverbial Mickey, and was starting to cause resentment, especially as he used to leave before the end citing travel plans. So, against my natural sense of Englishness, I determined that this chap should be challenged, and that is what we did. At the forth meeting, true to form he turned up late and sat and took his place, but this time we were waiting for him. As he relaxed the Chairman said to him, excuse me sir, you missed the introductions so we will go around the table and introduce ourselves. This we did, again, and then it was his turn, an awkward silence descended as he gave us his name, and then said that he was a retired milkman, and he was representing himself. So,I asked him if he was a member of CILT, no he replied, so what are you doing here then I asked him. Well, to be honest I only turn up for the buffet, I came to the first meeting by accident and you invited me back,so I thought it would be a good day out,make new friends and enjoy a fine free scoff.
Suffice to say he did not return but in truth we could not ban him from enjoying his final free supper, but just goes to show how important it is that you verify attendees and how they might contribute. Which takes me nicely back into why it is so important for active participation, that has never been as vital as it is now. The Open Letter, is a call to arms, not to retired freeloading former milkmen, no it is for those who want to get engaged and involved to put the united case for the bus. Now, more than ever we can make that essential difference, time is of the essence, so get involved we have a duty to this Industry.