Customer relations - or not!

Bus and Coach operations, new or changed services and timetables for First Midland Red Buses Limited or its predecessor, Midland Red West Limited.
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TimBrown
Posts: 760
Joined: 05:59 Monday 4th July 2016
Location: Worcester

Customer relations - or not!

Post by TimBrown » 11:55 Saturday 11th January 2020

Hot on the heels of recent reports that First Bus in Worcester is losing bucket loads of money, we have the attached report in this week's Berrows Worcester Journal that return tickets have been discontinued - scrapped altogether. A move designed to make even more passengers start walking to work or find other means of getting there.
More good news! 001.jpg
When the company talked about and promised new initiatives back in November 2019 for my 37 service I naively thought we would be seeing some special offers, improved frequency and the horrible jarring, rattling, cramped Citaros consigned to the scrap heap; if only. I despair that the only offers seem to be made to those who are able to afford I-phones, which is outright discrimination against passengers who present hard earned cash which, strangely enough, is accepted as LEGAL TENDER by every other business I use.

I had to use the bus to Worcestershire Royal Hospital early Monday morning and bought a £4-70 City Day Ticket with CASH if you please and was intrigued that the ticket machine recorded all journeys after the first one. If the machine can be programmed to do this with a paper ticket why is the facility not made available for paper 10 trip tickets issued by the driver? It would eliminate the 'ticketing discrepancies' outlined by senior management recently as the reason they were withdrawn and mean I am no longer being punished for what is essentially an internal disciplinary matter!

If this cannot be done and it is actually all about the reduction of cash handling costs, why not offer some better deals using debit cards which ARE carried by majority of the population these days.

Come on First, please think again and treat customers like they are the reason for your existence - we are not a necessary evil you know!

chason
Posts: 226
Joined: 14:24 Friday 22nd July 2016
Location: Bromsgrove

Re: Customer relations - or not!

Post by chason » 18:44 Saturday 11th January 2020

I think you have to wonder whether they actually want passengers or are they trying to run their services down?

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AdamH
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Joined: 12:17 Sunday 3rd July 2016
Location: Worcester
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Re: Customer relations - or not!

Post by AdamH » 20:16 Monday 13th January 2020

My son was telling me about the end of the return fares. It has caused countless arguments with passengers, so obviously customer relations are not good at the moment. As for the discounts on mobile phone apps... It no secret that this is done to encourage people to hand over their personal information (which you must do to use the app) and then they can target them with advertising. Stagecoach have recently started doing the same.

TimBrown
Posts: 760
Joined: 05:59 Monday 4th July 2016
Location: Worcester

Re: Customer relations - or not!

Post by TimBrown » 11:47 Tuesday 14th January 2020

AdamH wrote:
20:16 Monday 13th January 2020
My son was telling me about the end of the return fares. It has caused countless arguments with passengers, so obviously customer relations are not good at the moment. As for the discounts on mobile phone apps... It no secret that this is done to encourage people to hand over their personal information (which you must do to use the app) and then they can target them with advertising. Stagecoach have recently started doing the same.
Why do I get the impression we are already into the horrors of 'Big Brother's watching' predicted in George Orwell's futuristic book 1984? I've been on this planet for 75 years, and count myself as reasonably computer literate for an OAP but definitely hate the way society is going, it is all 'in your face' with very little privacy or respect remaining for those who wish to live a quiet life.

What really concerns me most of all in recent months are the conflicting reports of the direction First Group is taking in the near future. We heard last year (2019) that the company was pulling out of the UK bus industry altogether to concentrate on its North American businesses, then a couple of months ago they did a complete U-turn and put all the US and Canadian bus and coach companies up for sale. We were also told that individual First Bus local UK units were to be taken over by management buyouts.

The railway franchise side has mixed results with South West Trains reporting nearly £200 million loss for 2019, but GWR seems to be OK and the Group secured the well used West Coast franchise from Mr Branson about twelve months ago with help of Trenitalia.

Sorry, I have digressed, but the real shame about First in Worcester is the demise of the trunk routes such as Malverns, 144 and possible frequency reductions on the 35. Now we have the day return debacle which might increase revenue in the short term but will not increase trade in the long term when passengers decide to walk, use a bike, car, or club together for a taxi.

You only have to look at the times of last buses out of Crown Gate bus station to realise the extent of cuts to erstwhile thriving Monday to Friday services for example;

30 last bus 19-15;
31 last bus 18-25;
32 last bus 18-40;
34 last bus 18-55;
36 last bus 14-30!;
37 last bus 17-45;
38 last bus 20-00,
35 last bus 22-10;
44 hourly after 18-50, last bus 23-10;
45 last bus 18-40;
X50 last bus 18-15;
144 Monday to Thursday 18-15 & 20-15 plus Friday only 19-15, 2200 and short working 23-15.

I realise that the County Council subsidies have been withdrawn completely for evening services, but a basic 0700 to 19-00 day time service doesn't give any encouragement to use the bus mid-afternoon, leading to ever decreasing revenue and further cuts until we reach the horrible situation of the 36 finishing just after lunch. Despite Climate Change and Global Warming predictions, car drivers will not give up their independent transport if this is the best that First can provide; taxi drivers must be clapping their hands in glee!

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