August 26 2020

This week’s blog is by Kirstie Bull, Assistant Operations Manager at Brighton & Hove Buses. Kirstie writes about the vital role an operations team plays to make sure bus services run smoothly, to keep passengers moving so they can get to where they need to be.

Operations – sounds very ‘accident and emergency’ doesn’t it? Well, in a way our department is. Operations is the heartbeat of our company. An operations team is a big part of any bus company, and without operations, along with our driving colleagues, our buses would be left parked up in the depots which would effectively become museums for the transport industry.

Our transported customer is quite possibly you, or your parent, your child, your neighbour. It’s so important that we keep our buses on the road, to keep everyone moving to the places they want to be.

In our Operations department, our customers are our drivers and our engineers, and our communication is crucial. The Operations Supervisors office is the key to this. The Operations Supervisors deal with the incoming and outgoing driving colleagues on a daily basis and ensure that they know what they are doing, where they should be doing it and at what time.

When unexpected events occur and this can come in many guises including traffic incidents or a colleague being absent on the day, the Operations Supervisors are the link between several departments to ensure service continuity and to minimise the pending disruption. Their quick thinking and knowledge can save a service trip and ensure that the customers waiting at the bus stop are not disappointed.

My role as Assistant Operations Manager overseas this. It is an analytical position which looks for improvements and acts as negotiator and investigator. I report to Senior Managers and I respond to customers.

The obvious areas of involvement expected from an AOM include health and safety, discipline, monitoring and improving performance targets. Not so obvious but more topical are the human resource side, recognising that our colleagues are people and our colleagues are faced with their own personal challenges and mental health issues.

My operations background is twenty plus years in the making. The reason I stay is because there are truly no two days the same. I have over 300 colleagues to oversee and a lot could (and has) gone wrong in a day.

Our future in Operations is looking good. Unprecedented times have meant that five months ago we were running a skeleton service with 20% of our workforce. We are currently running at 80%. An increase in our schedule in the coming weeks will bring us back close to our full requirement for the depot and in Operations we will look forward to welcoming everyone back – ready for new challenges, colleagues and customers alike.


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