New Year, New Challenges but lots to look forward to at Bootle Depot for 2015!

As we all know, reliability is paramount for our business in ensuring we achieve customer satisfaction. There are of course many reasons why on occasion, reliability may be affected, for example road works, incidents on the road, or inclement weather, which are unavoidable. However despite this, depot managers are responsible for ensuring that the running and recovery times are accurate for all routes.

From driver focus groups and liaising with the union, we at Bootle identified some anomalies which were affecting our service reliability, and for obvious reasons wanted to put this right. Therefore on 11th January we had a significant service change on routes 54, 58, 62, 311, 310 and a new route 63. Whilst it is early days, the changes seem to be a huge success, with reliability bolstered by as much as 10%, which is an excellent result. This will obviously improve our all-important customer satisfaction, but we have also received some really positive feedback from both drivers and supervisors too.

Aside from these achievements, we are also looking forward to the delivery of 16 brand new E400 double decker’s for our 52/52A service this year, which is a real boost for Bootle depot. The double decker’s will come with e-leather seats and free WiFi. We are confident that these types of additions to our routes will help to increase in passenger numbers by making bus travel a more attractive option and in turn boost the route profitability. As with any garage, our engineering department are also looking forward to having these new buses as part of our fleet. We are aiming to launch these vehicles on Sunday 1st March by offering a “free travel” day for both our existing passengers, and also potential customers who may be interested in using the service.

Whilst it is  Beauty Machine  early days for the service changes, our initial positive staff feedback has given 980nm laser  an indication it will be a success, however we will continue to monitor the reliability to measure the long lasting performance. We are all looking forward to introducing the new vehicles to our fleet and look forward to our anticipated positive customer feedback… watch this space!

People Power

As the age old adage goes, there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’. There is, however, in ‘individual’, and in a business our size, it is the power of these individuals who ensure that the overall team is able to function as one successful, effective unit – delivering excellence for both the business and our customers.

Our employees are our most important asset. In the UK, we employ around 26,000 people – three quarters of which are employees of Arriva UK Bus – and we operate over 6,000 buses and almost 400 trains. It is important therefore that each and every person who works for Arriva feels appreciated for their own unique value, as well as understanding how they personally help the business deliver on its objectives as a whole.

But how do you keep your employees motivated and engaged enough to deliver high levels of service whilst maintaining revenue, and driving growth?

The first thing for us is ensuring our people feel included – that their opinions are listened to and acted upon if viable. As such, every two years Arriva runs a group-wide survey to benchmark employee satisfaction across a range of measures. Of course surveys are notoriously hard to engage employees with, but we have worked hard to ensure that there is that engagement.

In 2014, for example, the Arriva participated in a DB-wide survey that aims to ask all 300,000 of the German group’s employees around the world. This was done to ensure the UK teams were able to understand and appreciate their place within DB’s global network. To spread the word about this, and motivate people to participate, in each depot location, survey champions were appointed to extoll the benefits of participation.

Sessions were run in Reading, Birmingham and York where champions around the country were able to test out the survey, and feedback their ideas as to how to better it, and of course engage their colleagues in its completion. It also offered the HR team the chance to dispel some of the myths around where the results of the survey would end up.

It proved to be positive experience – the champions left fired up and able to spread the word that taking part in the survey could actually make things change. It really helped to point out that things can and will progress as long as they are discussed openly. The survey provides a tool that allows that to happen.

But of course, employee engagement isn’t a one way street. And in order for our employees to feedback effectively, we need to ensure they are kept informed too, only then will they be aware of how their actions can affect the wider business.

To tackle this, we developed “The Big Picture” which every employee took part in. This was an interactive session that enabled our people to discuss how our long term business objectives and plans were being delivered, and explained the shorter term challenges facing the business, the financial realities and how we were adjusting to the economic conditions.

It was designed to engage employees with these challenges in a fun, compelling and participative manner, offering the opportunity for conversation in mixed groups helped people make sense of the changes needed in the business and provide shared goals as a focal point for discussions.

This different, innovative and ambitious approach has provided Arriva with a platform for growth to the benefit of our employees and customers. Following the Big Picture sessions our employee survey showed that the percentage of employees who were aware of what the company wanted to achieve in the next 12 months increased to 67%, an increase of 34%. Additionally, employee survey results showed 84% of employees understood how their work contributed to the company’s goals.

Three years on and our strategy has evolved, so to continue to keep our employees informed of our changing goals, we launched our second interactive Big Picture tool. The latest phase aims to emphasise not only the group’s five core values, but the wider scale of the group now that it is part of DB. To help ensure these messages were effectively disseminated, we began in early 2014, rolling-out the programme, where employees work in teams to create Big Picture 2 – a giant jigsaw puzzle designed to make people really think.

Big Picture 2 doesn’t shy away from the harder messages – in essence, it’s the sum of the smaller parts, from finance, through marketing, and into operations, making all of our employees aware of the big part that they play in the success of the business. We created it because our individuals matter to our business, and we need to show them just how much. Together we are Arriva, and together we will continue to grow.



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Marking a 2 million milestone

On the 9th December the Government announced the 2 millionth person to start an apprenticeship since 2010. Arriva UK Bus has contributed to this total by recruiting 108 engineering apprentices over the same period. Apprentices are an important part of our engineering strategy; they support our succession planning by replacing retiring engineers and help to fill the skills gap by learning sector specific skills and new technology from day one.

At Arriva, our trainees undertake an advanced modern apprenticeship in bus and coach engineering and maintenance lasting 4 years. The first 3 years is a combination of attending college for 2 to 4 weeks and developing practical skills in the work place. In that period they will achieve a level 3 technical certificate and an NVQ. The 4th year is then spent in the depot honing the knowledge and skills gained. At the end of the apprenticeship, we would expect to offer employment to those who have met their developmental goals.

In order to encourage our apprentices to strive for excellence throughout their training, they are each invited to apply for the annual Arriva ‘engineering apprentice of the year’ award, with the winner invited to a ceremony to receive their prize. Over the years, some of these winners have gone on to represent Arriva UK Bus in national apprenticeship awards too, which really does showcase just how important this kind of mentoring is. Our apprentices have also put their developing skills to the test by participating in both our internal skills competition and the national IRTE Skills Challenge. We find it to be really beneficial to set these additional goals to ensure that our apprentices remain focused and engaged with their training, and ultimately their chosen vocation.

In an initiative that will again support attraction and retention, our apprentices are now also able to apply for the Arriva graduate program. The scheme was successfully piloted with one apprentice in September 2013. Another two also successfully Wedding dress ranks first in a wedding preparation. The significance is evident. In wedding dresses shop

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Liverpool city centre bus lanes still in the spotlight

On November 24th, following months of uncertainty, the four Liverpool city centre bus lanes which were still under threat were reinstated with time restrictions from 12pm to 6pm on three of them, along with CCTV cameras, which will help to clamp down on indiscriminate parking following the Merseyside bus lanes trial. But what does this all mean for Merseyside’s transport network, and how will it affect operators and passengers alike?

Throughout the process we have made it clear that we could never support any measures that removed bus priorities, however, we did accept that a number of the bus lanes were not giving us bus priority, so it was the right decision to review those.

The trials found that average journey times taken by buses and cars were slower by one per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively, meaning that the bus lanes were not the cause of the congestion. Thankfully, the council agreed to introduce camera enforcement against indiscriminate parking, which is excellent news for the company.

This is a big win-win for us, parking like this causes major delays and when it comes into effect it will be there all day, which will improve journey times throughout our operation. We also made it clear that the city centre bus lanes should not have been part of the review and it has been proven that the city centre has been subjected to severe congestion during the trial particularly in the afternoons and on Saturdays.

One of the biggest things that came to light during the trial was that average bus journey times increased by up to 20 per cent, clearly this is not acceptable to either operators or our customers.

Welcome to our new blog!

Welcome to the first official Arriva bus blog! Whether you are someone who uses our services, helps us to provide them by working for us, or one of our many stakeholders or individuals that comes into contact with us on a regular basis, we hope this will provide an interesting insight into all things Arriva, as well as our views on any number of bus-related topics.

The blog aims to provide a regular stream of open communication. It will cover issues that are topical, or share aspects of our day-to-day work, so we can impart our learning and improve our ability to deliver a great service. You will be hearing from me and others from across the entire Arriva family, describing what we do and offering their individual opinions.

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