July 23 2020

Jane Cole, Managing Director of Blackpool Transport, writes about how now is the time to seize the opportunity to make bus travel as appealing and attractive as it always has been, and how Blackpool Transport could work in partnership with coach operators to bring tourists back to Blackpool.

The last few months have been a challenge, as we all know, to say the least. Being unable to encourage people to use our safe, clean buses as an environmentally friendly and economical travel solution has been difficult for us all.

If there has been one recurring theme in Blackpool though, it has been opportunity. The opportunity to do things differently. The opportunity to do things better. The opportunity to make bus travel as appealing and attractive as it always has been.

Putting the ‘brakes on’ back in March took a monumental effort from all of our great people in Blackpool and I doubt many of us even considered what our steps would be as we look towards rebuilding our network, but now is the time to seize our opportunity. The rebuild of our network is centred around the changing needs of our town and we’ll make no assumptions on what our customers do or don’t need.

Although research on the use of public transport in the future is frightening, there are so many opportunities to engage with young people, make our products more accessible than ever and meet the newfound cleanliness expectations of customers.

On 9th August we will introduce a zonal fare system which will see only 2 single fares in operation. Up to 80% of our pay & go customers will see a fare reduction, customers will be able to travel further for less and our season tickets will reduce in price to match. Our strategy is to make it effortless for customers to travel with us and get people back on the bus (and tram). No longer will we hide behind a fare structure which is both unusable and inexplicably complex for the average customer.

We will present price and position it alongside value at every step of the customer journey, just like every other retail outlet, which we know is a key driver in purchases amongst young people. Our Young Person tickets are being extended to cover ages 16-21 to encourage them to stay with us for longer too.

Equipping customers new or old with everything they need to know before they travel, and accompanying it with consistent safety and cleanliness messaging has to be the way forward for us all. Punctuality and convenience are no longer the top factors in a purchase decision and we must all acknowledge the opportunity to change.

Talking about change, I have been amazed at how our staff have adapted and resourced themselves with new skills to take on the challenges that face us going forward. Throughout this medical emergency our Managers and Leaders have had to take a more strategic approach to business planning and financial control. This has resulted in them delegating some of their tasks to admin, engineering and frontline aspiring stars who have picked up the mantle delivered amazing results.

The illumination season in Blackpool 2020 has been extended from September 2020 to January 2021 and I would be delighted to hear from any of the Coach operators out there who are arranging to visit the resort so that we can offer support with coach parking and servicing facilities. We can also work together to provide tours through the illuminations if customers are being dropped off. The coach industry is a vital blood line to the tourism economy in Blackpool and Blackpool Transport would like to work in partnership with operators to help in any way that we can.