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My wish for 2013 – Dai Powell

Tomorrow, the 2nd of January, will be the first operational day of LibertyBus in Jersey. This is both an exciting time and a challenging time. There have been issues in the hand over which we were not expecting and the work and effort of our team in Jersey and in London has been fantastic in overcoming most of these issues.

A really exciting time

On the exciting front, we are really looking forward to operating the service. We have been to and spoken at every parish, engaged with the public in naming the service, worked with school children in naming the smart cards and having a public vote on the livery of the buses. We have received many comments and suggestions, from the public, from the politicians and from the ex Connex staff.

We have worked closely and very positively with TTS and other States departments and have taken their views into account. This is a vital relationship and one we are very pleased with.

All this has fed into the design of the service and has given us an understanding of the aspirations of the people of Jersey. The new vehicles we have invested in are high quality, both in the build of the vehicles themselves but also in the design. We have taken note of as many needs that Jersey people have as is possible in one design and we hope you like the look and feel of the vehicles. We have designed them to be accessible to wheelchair users and people with buggies as well as commuters. We have tried to make them look modern and upmarket to reflect the perception of Jersey.

We have made changes to the timetable, enhanced some services and amalgamated the 18 and 15 routes. The new route 15 will go through the tunnel to Marais, this will provide a much better service from Marias to town in the morning as well as evening and Sunday services. These are just the first changes. We will see how this works and introduce further enhancements during the next year.

All of the above is working towards our goal of a totally customer focused service, this is our ambition and everything we do will be directed towards this goal.

Work still to do

But not everything has gone smoothly, far from it, there have been technical obstacles, some of which have been resolved and others in the process of being resolved. There have been challenges with the hand over from one operator to a new operator, and there have been the much publicised staff challenges.

The technical obstacles, from software compatibility, data transfer and introducing new systems to vehicle shipping and Jersey regulation have been a challenge, and a learning curve for us. A few things are yet to complete on this score but are all on track to be done within next couple of weeks.

Changing operators can be difficult as old and new operators have differing needs and differing timescales but I must say that working with Connex on the handover has worked well. And I would like to take this opportunity in wishing Eric Le Roux all the best for the future and thank so many of his staff for their support.

The greatest challenge however has been with staff signing up to work for us. We were not expecting the level of complexity and disruption that this caused. We have made the commitment that from now on all staff will be treated equally and fairly, that work will be allocated on an equal basis and that we will not tolerate any intimidation. Our staff must be able to come to work without fear or favor.

However on the positive side we have been overwhelmed with the amount of enquiries of people wanting to work for us, and a great thank you to all those who have applied and apologies if we have been unable to get back to some of you – it’s just about time pressure. When vacancies arise we will be recruiting from this pool, so rest assured if you have applied your details will not be lost.

We have also had a great response from so many of the current (or is that now ex) Connex drivers, engineers and other staff, 92% have now signed new contracts, and it is fantastic to see so many people in the depot and Lib Station today on New Years day, working hard to get things ready for the first day of operation. And I am sure it is not just because today is such a lovely day after so much rain that the atmosphere is so positive and exciting.

Serving Jersey – first and foremost

But what is the future, what do we wish for in 2013. Well, we are very proud to be the bus operator, but we must always keep in mind that operating LibertyBus is a privilege and not a right. I do not have a right to my job, nor do any of our staff, the success for us, individually and collectively lies in the quality of what we provide to the public, nothing more, nothing less.

We want to provide a service that Jersey is proud of, a service that reflects what Jersey feels about itself and a service that puts the customer first every time and all the time. It will take time to achieve this, in some areas we are well on the way, in others we are still at first base.

What I ask from the people of Jersey is a bit of patience when things go wrong, more suggestions for how we can improve but most of all I want you all to try the service, try the bus and hopefully our service will make you feel that Jersey has something else to be proud of.

 
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