The West Midlands is never far from the spotlight – from hosting the Commonwealth Games through to being the new home of everyone’s favourite mechanical bull (more of him later!).
As a key part of the public transport network right in the centre of Great Britain, the West Midlands region certainly keeps Transport Focus busy.
Our colleagues are regularly out and about across Britain – their feedback and observations enable us to campaign for improvements and changes for passengers.
Our man in the Midlands is Geoff Grant, who’s been with Transport Focus for four years and is based in Birmingham. So, what does a typical day for Geoff look like?
In his own words ‘there’s probably not a typical day as we’re involved in so many initiatives, every day is different.’
As passengers are at the centre of our work there is a real focus on customer facing information. A day’s tasks can include checking on communications at rail stations and travel hubs – everything from posters and websites to electronic screens and leaflets.
It’s essential we see how operators are communicating with passengers and checking that they can easily find and access that information. This is something that has been particularly important during recent industrial action and is something we keep a strict eye on during any engineering work.
We’re there to challenge and influence operators and stakeholders to do the best job possible. We regularly publish the results of our research with passengers – both the good and not so good. Part of the day can be providing details of these results to the regions’ rail strategic supervisory board, the Grand Railway Collaboration, train operators or a specific station, so they can understand the passenger perspective.
We know that passengers don’t care where things go wrong, they just want them to be put right, and we champion their cause.
Partnerships are key in the West Midlands, and we’re pleased to be part of a number of important groups who are influencing, and delivering improved public transport and ensuring the passenger voice is heard. The afternoon of a typical day might include chairing the region’s bus alliance where we recently pushed for speedy resolution on bus strikes, as well as encouraging ticket acceptance on other operators.
This was particularly important for passengers with health and accessibility needs. We also contributed to the station newsletter for New Street, giving positive feedback when we’d seen some great service over a Cheltenham race day, and explaining what our latest survey means.
And finally, back to that mechanical bull… anyone watching the Commonwealth Games will not have missed the mechanical sculpture known as ‘Raging Bull’ displayed in in the centre of the city. It was due to be dismantled at the end of the Games, sparking public outcry, but in the ultimate act of recycling it will be installed in Birmingham New Street station by Network Rail this summer.
We’re proud to be involved with public transport at a community, local and regional level, making sure that the passenger voice is heard, good practice is promoted, and that information is improved and joined up – all changes that make a difference regardless of how you choose to travel.
If you’re keen to make your voice heard, do consider joining our Transport User Panel….. Transport User Panel – Transport Focus