Around 50 of the country’s top young bus managers attended the Young Bus Manager’s Network (YBMN) conference at the Lansdowne Place Hotel in Hove last week.
The programme included presentations from Arriva Bus UK MD Mike Cooper and transport minister Norman Baker MP.
The conference kicked off on Wednesday evening with an informal dinner and a quiz chaired by Chris Cheek.
The morning of the full conference started with a grandstand double-deck tour of the bus lanes to the east of Brighton on the A259. Brighton & Hove Bus & Coach Company MD Roger French (who, along with Reading Transport CEO James Freeman, is co-patron of the YBMN) provided expert commentary and explained how the bus lanes have helped to improve journey times and significantly increase patronage along the corridor since their opening in spring 2008.
Roger French formally opened the conference before headline speaker for the morning Mike Cooper, gave a talk on his career to date and how he has changed thinking in the organisation to improve operational performance.
There was then an interactive debate on hybrid vehicle technology, with a panel which included Graham Belgum from FirstGroup, Ian Downie from Volvo and James Freeman from Reading Transport.
The debate focused on the continuing development of hybrid technologies, as well as challenges including fuel prices, European emissions standards and the desire to reduce weight in vehicle design to improve fuel consumption.
Norman Baker’s speech outlined how he took a real interest in the bus industry and fielded a number of key questions from delegates from both large and small bus operators about current significant issues facing the industry, including relationships with local authorities, budget cuts, and the issues for operators when faced with moving over to smart ticketing.
Brian Higbee from Trapeze ITS then gave his take on real-time information technology and the direction it is now progressing in, along with smart phones and texting systems.
For further details of the YBMN, visit www.youngbusmanagers.org.uk.