Book review: Road Passenger Transport Management

Wednesday 16th September 2020

Vested (non financial) interest alert: along with Ray Stenning of Best Impressions I wrote chapter 17 in this newly published book.

Last week was a busy one for the likes of Waterstones. A record number of new books were introduced into the market after the Covid publishing pause and in preparation for the important Christmas buying season. In the excitement of Richard Osman’s record breaking launch sales of his murder mystery you may have missed the publication of ‘Road Passenger Transport Management – Planning And Coordinating Passenger Transport Operations’.

It may not be the snappiest of book titles but the book is a true treasure trove of facts and background explanations about everything you could ever want to know about road passenger transport.

Edited by two hugely experienced and long standing transport professionals in Tony Francis and David Hurdle the book is a compendium of contributions from a host of illustrious experts in the bus and coach industry including John Birtwhistle, Gavin Booth, Ben Colson, Steve Harris, David Jenkins, Stephen Joseph, David Sidebottom, Peter White as well as many others writing eighteen chapters in the 320 page bok.

The book claims to cover “all the essential tasks transport managers should accomplish to be fully proficient”. And it certainly does that to great effect. It’s a very readable text book and is essential reading for every student in transport management as well as new entrants to the industry whether they’re aspiring graduates or high flying managing directors of UK Bus at ‘Group level’ coming into the industry from other businesses such as telecommunication companies or shipping companies (for example).

Austin Birks and John Carr (of CILT’s Bus and Coach Forum) rightly write in the book’s Foreward in addition “to help those keen to make a career in the business” the book will also “assist others who may have to deal with it from the outside (for example in local government), but not necessarily having had the opportunity to understand how it all works”.

The book is divided into two parts: ‘How the bus business works’ and ‘Wider engagement’. The first covers definitions and descriptions of the legal and regulatory framework; history, heritage and current challenges; planning, vehicles and fuels, operations, fares, ticketing and revenue, and human resources. The second part includes the market, land use planning, bus priority, rural buses, partnerships, working with the public, societal value, presentation and promotion and finally the future and new technology. There are also chapters and appendices devoted to Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

Whether it’s Ben Colson’s expert knowledge and practical experience of running rural buses in north west Norfolk, Steve Harris’s staff recruitment, training and retention best practice at Metroline, Kevin Hawkins extensive knowledge of concessionary fares, Stuart Cole’s and Gavin Booth’s expertese in Wales and Scotland respectively , Peter White on the framework behind everything road passenger transport, or mine and Ray Stenning’s take on the best way to present and promote bus services you’ll find it all containued in this book.

Ray and I are delighted to have played a small part making a contribution. We’d have liked to have included some provocative photographs showing the best and worst practice that’s out there to illustrate the points we’ve made, but this wasn’t possible due to the need to keep the book to a manageable size and therefore cost. However, I was struck by the effectiveness of the illustration on page 113 which demonstrates all you need to know about the generation factor behind concessionary fares reimbursement. Well done to Kevin Hawkins and MCL Consultants Ltd for such a clear exposition. I finally understand it!

This book really is a great read, and I don’t just mean chapter 17, although it really would be worth buying just for that! It’s published by Kogan Page and available from their website for the not-quite-so-bargain price of £44.99. Astute Internet surfers will be able to find cheaper prices from a certain well known online retailer (who, on principle I avoid) but I see is offering availability at £35.58 or even £35.73 for ‘Used – Like New’ – eh? – it’s less than a week since publication!

Road Passenger Transport Management is definitely worth a read, so if you’re a graduate management trainee – badger your mentor to get the company to buy you a copy. If you’re working in the industry – buy your own copy for yourself. You won’t regret it – the ideal Christmas gift for road passenger transport devotees.

Roger French

PS: I’m sure Tony and David won’t mind if I leave you with a little extract to possibly tempt a purchase to read more….

6 thoughts on “Book review: Road Passenger Transport Management

Add yours

  1. Thank you Roger, for taking the time to review this book and importantly my grateful thanks to you and all the other contributors for providing hopefully a comprehensive coverage of the business we love. It represents true team work and a really fantastic group it was.
    Tony Francis

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Will have to get a copy of this! As a “bus mad” kid, who only ever wanted to be a bus driver, I considered studying passenger transport management at uni, but instead I ended up in computing. Now I’m 63 and a third, still “bus mad” and wondering what I missed and what might have been…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well done Roger. Nothing wrong with a bit of self promotion for hard work on this publication. Your extract of the first page of Chapter 17 has me hooked. How I so strongly believe “Managers need to be obsessed with exceptional customer service”. So saddened that in my old(er) age I can only think of a handful of them in the industry today! Let’s hope this book encourages another generation.

    Liked by 1 person

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