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A vision for future bus travel in Reading

15 September 2016  •  Author(s): Reading Buses

Reading Buses shares its vision for the future of bus travel and explains its role in helping to create a smart and sustainable city…

Reading buses

The UK’s Bus Operator of the Year, Reading Buses, is working closely with key stakeholders across the Berkshire town and surrounding areas on a forward future vision to shape the next generation of bus travel.

Reading Buses role in creating a smart and sustainable city

The Reading Buses vision has been borne out of the Reading 2050 project led by the Reading UK CIC organisation which has been working closely with the Borough Council, University, Reading Buses itself and other key stakeholders, including property developers, to begin the high level master planning of where Reading needs to be in the future.

Reading Buses has taken the 2050 concept of Reading becoming a truly “smart and sustainable city” as part of its own aspirations for the future of bus travel and the need for good transport connectivity.

‘Reading Buses ‘Forward Future – shaping the next generation of bus travel’ can be downloaded here.

As a major transport operator in the region, Reading Buses has taken it upon itself to drill down the transport vision and begin the process of thinking about what the future of public transport should look like.

Identification of six key themes for the future of transport

“It isn’t a 2050 project, but the Reading Buses vision has been inspired by that and is the start of working even closer with others to put public transport at the heart of local economic growth,” Chief Executive Officer Martijn Gilbert explained.

“We have devised six key themes which we think will become increasingly important in the world of transport.  We need to be thinking about on-board ambiance, guided driving, connected networks, digitised vehicle maintenance and support and people and partnerships.

“We hope to share our thoughts and views for the future and that these will lead to bigger and more detailed discussions with stakeholders regionally.”

Reading Buses infographic

He said Reading Buses had been involved in the 2050 workshops, most recently with a full day session last December.  A number of organisations across the town were involved in high level visioning and the public launch of the 2050 vision earlier this year was held on one of their buses.

”A lot of the thoughts and views of groups from within our own workforce are being fed into the project in addition to the work of our board and leadership team.

“Thinking about the important role of good public transport and the work that will be needed with stakeholders, we involved Improvement Champions made up of non-management employees on a personal development programme and identified as having high potential. One of our Improvement Groups looked at transport best practice beyond the world of buses and another looked at future transport concepts.”

The results of trialling 10 vehicles from different manufacturers last year had also been fed into the project and suppliers were taking many new and challenging concepts to the next level of research and development as work in progress following our vehicle strategy paper issues last September.

“Suppliers need to understand our thinking and therefore synergies between us are important”

“Suppliers need to understand our thinking and therefore synergies between us are important,” said Martijn.

As a business, Reading Buses were themselves talking to stakeholders in the areas they serve.  These included retailers, housing developers, councils, highway authorities and others who in some way were all dependent on the future success of public transport.

“We have a vision, but we cannot do this on our own and need to understand their needs and ideas of what the future should look like.  The message is to keep talking, working together and thinking big.

“We need to have everybody buying into the vision of the future.  As an organisation, we are hungry to do even more and need the support of everybody if we are to get the right result.

“At the same time, people are still going to be the public face of Reading Buses and people are important in terms of both employees and stakeholders whose partnership and support will be critical to the continued development of good public transport to support the growing economy of our region and help make people’s journey experience seamless and better integrated.

“It is all too easy in our industry to get wrapped up in our own day to day work, but we have to keep thinking, step out of the everyday and look beyond that. Buses have to keep themselves relevant and in touch with users’ needs.” 

“Buses have to keep themselves relevant and in touch with users’ needs”

Despite living in a world of rapidly developing technology, he said our roads were ever increasingly congested and if large numbers of people could be propelled by bus in a friendly way this would reduce the amount of car journeys.

“We have to keep our cities moving and whilst the bus of the future might not be in its existing form it will nevertheless become even more important,” said Martijn.

“So our message to stakeholders is don’t forget the bus when building new housing developments.  We are working with highways authorities on the best use of the road network and suppliers need to understand what we are thinking.”

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