Reading Buses Chief Engineer confident industry will bounce back

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Bill Gough, Reading Buses’ new Chief Engineer, has spoken out about the unprecedented challenges brought by the coronavirus crisis, adding that he is ‘fully confident’ the bus industry will emerge stronger and more resilient.

Bill stressed the importance of operators learning from each other to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever before

Although there are currently fewer people travelling on the network, the role of Reading Buses’ engineering department remains critical; Bill is spending much of his days looking at every possible scenario to safeguard passengers.

His current duties also include liaising with industry bodies and other operators nationwide to find ways of introducing new measures which will strengthen and improve bus travel longer term.

“As an industry, we are all in the same boat metaphorically speaking. We are facing the same challenges and we need to learn from each other,” said the 45-year-old.

“In terms of bus practices, we don’t necessarily share the same commercial elements, but when it comes to vehicle technology we are of a like mind.

“A huge number of the population rely on public transport and the challenge is to get members of the public from A to B in a safe way. It’s all about how we keep vehicles clean, surfaces sanitised and how we maximise the capacity of a vehicle whilst moving to closer distances of one metre. We are continually thinking about that.

“How we can put shielding up on vehicles to maximise the space. We are looking at every possible scenario to safeguard passengers. It’s an opportunity for us to look at everything we do.

“We can potentially re-engineer the way we engineer a vehicle and we can do things differently. When we reach a new state of normal we can look to do things differently and not necessarily the way it has always been done in the industry in the past.

“For example, we can change the seating configuration on a vehicle to achieve the necessary separation of passengers.

“We shall get through this 100% and be stronger for it,” he added.

As an engineer, Bill explained that he has worked to four simple rules:

  • Every vehicle should be at MOT standard or above all year round;
  • Quality inspections and quality repairs should be carried out on time and on target;
  • Authentic and detailed records must be kept of all work; and
  • It is important to check the quality of everything that is done.

He explained: “These four pillars are the key to engineering a safe, reliable and clean vehicle. The exciting thing for me is that these pillars are already in place at Reading Buses which means we can now begin building on them and taking things to the next level.”