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Alison Coles' 2021 Business Growth & Plans
Today we're talking to Alison Coles who is assistant operations manager at Swindon’s Bus Company which is the town's public transport operator delivering a network of services throughout the town and an additional countryside services serving Marlborough, Bedwyn, Hungerford and Bath. The company is based at a purpose built facility in Barnfield Road with an additional rest facility in the town centre.
April is here – how does this month fit into the ebb & flow of your year?
April has seen us bring our bus service levels back to normal - the levels they were before the first lockdown last March. We have been running essential bus services throughout the pandemic, but are now keen to welcome everyone back on board.
Are you in a business which is either opening up this month – or preparing to open up?
We have been running bus services throughout. However, we do want to reassure those who haven’t been on a bus for a while that we have extra safety measures in place - including hand sanitiser on board, face coverings worn by customers and covid screens for drivers.
What are you most looking forward to as the country tries to ‘open up’?
People – seeing lots of people again. Many individuals have found lockdown very isolating and the novelty of working from home - for those who have been able to - has worn off. We are keen to see everyone out and about again. Our role within the community is to provide safe and reliable transport connections and it is great to think we can connect families together again.
It’s also Stress Awareness Month, what measures have you taken in your business to reduce the stress on yourself & your team?
Stress affects many of us and, as a responsible employer, we provide a support app that has various support mechanisms - including access to counsellors without having to wait for a GP referral. There are many tools available - from online courses to practicing mindfulness.
What do you do personally to support your health and wellbeing?
Both professionally and domestically, I try to keep a positive approach to all things and at home maintain the household routines.
Do you see your product/service as one which supports the health and wellbeing of others such as your clients?
In a strange way, yes it does. We know that loneliness affects so many people, and just getting out and about on a bus reunites people with favourite places and other people. For those who live alone, a quick chat with a bus driver or another passenger may be the only real conversation they have.
As the year goes on, will you take health and wellbeing more seriously going forward?
I will certainly be more aware of how health can be affected without notice and that nothing can be taken for granted. That has been one of the most important lessons of the past year for me personally.
Have you got any big events - personal or business - you are preparing for later this year?
Yes, we have been working hard on making bus tickets easier to understand and journeys easier to plan. By Summer we will introduce an upgraded form of contactless payment, called Tap On, Tap off.
This new system automatically calculates the best daily fare available - and there will be no need for a paper ticket. We will also be launching a new app where journey planning and tracking live buses will be at a tap of a finger. Customers will also be able to buy day and period tickets via the app, so everything they need is in one place.
I would like to express my pride and gratitude for my driver colleagues over the past year, who, as front line workers, continued to deliver our services in a professional and generally good-humoured fashion despite being faced with extreme challenges brought about by the pandemic.
This year has brought out the best in them.
For more information visit https://www.swindon bus.co.uk