Latest News | 11 January 2023

All change for Jeff after almost half a century

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In the latest edition of Marketing Derby’s Innovate Magazine, we meet Jeff Counsell, the boss of a bus operator trentbarton, who is set to retire after almost half a century in the industry.

Jeff, who is also managing director of sister firm Kinchbus, will call time on his 48-year career in the transport industry next month.

In the Innovate feature, he reflects on his career, which began as a 15-year-old engineering apprentice at Lancashire United Transport in the 1970s.

He joined trentbarton in 1999 as engineering director and progressed to director of service delivery before becoming managing director in 2009.

His role directing both operations and engineering also encompassed the two companies’ relationships with national and local government, an aspect which has been of prime importance during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Jeff told Innovate: “It was July 1974, when I started – when everything was still in black and white!

“Back then the customer was never really high in the thoughts of the businesses. It was about running buses for the sake of the network.”

All that has changed, according to Jeff, with the customer put front and centre of everything trentbarton does.

Explaining this approach to trainee drivers, Jeff said: “I ask them how they would treat their customers to make sure they keep coming back to the store and don’t go somewhere else?

“If you were in that position, you’d look after shoppers, you’d get to know them, you’d smile when they came in and wish them good morning. It should be no different when a passenger gets onto your bus.”

Jeff also shares his thoughts on the future of bus travel – and how the powers-that-be can do more to encourage us to leave our cars at home.

He told Innovate: “We need to be serious about prioritising mass transit over sole occupancy car use.

“Whether that be through priority measures for the bus, which speed up journey times and see it genuinely be better than the car, which we know will attract people onto public transport, there needs to be some genuine will to prioritise mass transit over the motorist.

“Politically, that is unsavoury for many politicians because the motorists all vote.

“But we need to be brave and bold. Our city planners need to factor in mass transit, whatever form that takes.”

As Jeff prepares to retire, he tells Innovate that it’s the people – both passengers and staff – he is going to miss most.

He said: “The best thing about our industry is the people. There are 30,000 or so buses in England but as an industry we pretty much know each other.

“It’s like one big family. And, locally, the one thing I’ve enjoyed most is working with our people and talking to our customers on a daily basis.

“I think we’re a special breed. Once you have been in the business for a few years, it really gets into your blood.”

To read the full article visit here.

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