Summaries of our previous events. For pictures, click GALLERY.

Lunchtime Sessions on Zoom, June 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic meant postponing the planned March 2020 conference. So in June 2021 we ran a series of short, snappy YBMN Lunchtime Sessions on Zoom. Lasting 45 minutes, each one started with a brief presentation followed by Q & A with leading speakers from the bus industry. The four Sessions were designed to give four different perspectives on the challenges and opportunities in the bus industry post pandemic.

We kicked off with buses minister, Baroness Vere who presented highlights of the government’s Buses Back Better strategy (which led to YBMN’s first mention in Private Eye with a quote from the Baroness). The following week Pete Bond, Director of Transport Services at Transport for West Midlands, give the view from a public sector transport perspective. Week three featured straight talking serial bus entrepreneur Julian Peddle, who us his views on the government strategy and the direction the industry was going. The final week featured Go-Ahead Group Chief Executive David Brown who looked to the future and what companies can do to work with local authorities and grow passenger numbers.

Autumn Conference: London October 2019

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After may requests from delegates so see how things work in London, the Young Bus Managers Network held it’s autumn conference at the Jurys Inn London Croydon. In the afternoon, delegates were treated to a trip on one of two heritage Routemasters to visit Arriva London’s Croydon bus garage and Purley Way Control Centre. The visits were very well received and delegates were particulalry impressed with TfL’s ibus system.

In order to secure Transport Commissioner for London Mike Brown MVO FRCS FCILT as our after dinner speaker on an evening when he was available, we had to hold the dinner at another venue, the Croydon Park Hotel. As the head of the world’s largest integrated transport authority, it was well worth hearing what Mike had to say and he answered many questions.

Wednesday kicked off with a presentation from John Trayner, MD of Go-Ahead London and the capital’s longest serving MD. He started as an apprentice engineer so had a wealth of experience to share. Next up was Jim Thorpe, MD of Uno Bus who told delegates about his early career in the industry and the establishment of Uno, which provides a significant network of services around the University of Hatfield as well as a TfL route.

After coffee, YBMN member Rachel Reeve-Burnett told delegates about the concept of Transdev Blazefield’s unique Vamooz operation and its development from a schools service to licensed operations elsewhere in the UK. Then came Richard Pelly from Pellys Transport & Regulatory Law who set the legal framework for former DVSA Regional Manager Graham Owen, who gave many examples of unroadworthy vehicles and got delegates thinking about their responsibilities.

The Workshop considered the pros and cons of the ‘London style’ of bus franchising which provoked much discussion and lively feedback. Two YBMN members then gave presentations: Thomas Manship from Grant Palmer gave a lively presentation about the company and his role within it; and Mikesh Mistry demonstrated how he was presenting data about bus lateness graphically on a map.

Finally, Chris Cheek from Passenger Transport Intelligence described the industry through the latest bus numbers, before Co-Patrons Roger French and James Freeman wrapped up the conference.

Spring Conference: Manchester, April 2019

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Just under 100 delegates travelled to Manchester for the Network's second visit to the city on 2nd and 3rd April. In a change to previous events, the depot visit became an optional element before the official start of the conference and many took the opportunity to visit Stagecoach Manchester's Hyde Street depot. There was also an 'open house' at Omnibus Passenger Transport Solutions which some delegates attended. The after dinner speaker was BBC North West Tonight's senior reporter Dave Guest who talked about how to deal with the media in a positive way.

The following day, we kicked off with an introduction to the bus scene in Manchester from Gary Nolan from OneBus that represents Manchester's bus operators. Sadly neither the Mayor's office nor TfGM were able to put up a speaker. Kieran Proctor from Omnibus Passenger Transport Solutions outlined how the company uses data to benefit bus operators, a theme that was continued by Joe Wood from CitySwifter who looked at how big data can help operators. It was then the turn of two YBMN members to tell delegates about their career history to date and what lessons they'd learned. Alex Chutter is a rising star in the Go-Ahead Group and is General Manager for three operations - Swindon's Bus Company, Salisbury Reds and Tourist Coaches. Dan Bassett, meanwhile, is Operations Manager for the ever expanding and forward looking Reading Buses.

In another change to previous conferences, a buffet lunch was combined with the workshop. Delegates split into groups, and picking up on the theme of the previous evening, had to deal with three scenarios with different incidents and had to produce a press release as well as being interviewed 'live' about the incident.

Meera Rambissoon from The TAS Partnership talked to delegates about the importance of mental health in the workplace and specifically about what she's doing to promote good mental health in the bus industry. Finally, Chris Cheek from Passenger Transport Monitor took the audience through the latest bus numbers and trends in passenger numbers and fares, before co-Patrons Roger French and James Freeman wrapped up the conference.

Autumn Conference: Bristol, October 2018

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The YBMN made a return trip to Bristol on 17th and 18th October, where 100 delegates welcomed Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney as the after dinner speaker. The following day, Professor Graham Parkhurst began by looking at technology's effects on the traditional public transport operation. YBMN Co-Patron and First West of England MD, James Freeman, then set the scene on public transport in Bristol before metrobus Manager, Shalando Williams, introduced the new busway system, then leading delegates on a tour of the recently opened m2 route. After lucnh, Bus Users UK CEO, Claire Walters, talked about being the manager your passengers need, followed by MD of The TAS Partnership, Sarah Huntley, who looked at smart ticketing. Delegates then contributed to a workshop looking 10 years into the future, before Co-Parton Roger French wrapped up the conference.

Spring Conference: Edinburgh, April 2018

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For the YBMN's second visit to Scotland, 100 delegates made their way to the Holiday Inn, Edinburgh on 9th and 10th April. The speakers were Richard Hall, MD of Lothian Buses, Peter Knight, Ops Director for Scottish Citylink Coaches, Matthew Moll, Senior Consultant at The TAS Partnership and Ralph Roberts, MD at McGill's. The after dinner speaker was Alex Hynes, MD of the ScotRail Alliance.

Autumn Conference: Oxford, October 2017

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Just under 100 delegates made their way to the Oxford Spires Hotel on 25th and 26th October to hear more top level speakers, including Arriva UK Bus Managing Director, Kevin O'Connor, and Stagecoach UK Bus Regional Director England and Wales, Mike Watson.

Seminar 2: Costing and Time Costing, September 2017

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The second one day seminar was also held at the London offices of CPT, this time on 26th September, focussing on Costing and Time Costing.

Seminar 1: Human Resources and Staff Relations, June 2017

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The first ever one day seminar, held at CPT's London offices on 16th June, focussing on a topic that comes up frequently in the conference feedback forms in greater detail. This one looked at Human Resources.

Spring Conference: Liverpool, March 2017

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Another attendance of over 100 delegates gathered at the Radission Blu hotel in Liverpool on 29th and 30th March to hear from Go-Ahead Group CEO David Brown, and First Bus MD Giles Fearnley, amongst other top level speakers.

Autumn Conference: Glasgow October 2016

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This was YBMN's first venture north of the border, and attracted a record attendance of more than 100 delegates from around Britain travelled to the Grand Central Hotel on 19th and 20th October.

Spring Conference: Birmingham, May 2016

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We returned to Birmingham for the first event of 2016, held at the Jury's Inn on 3rd and 4th May.

Autumn Conference: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, November 2015

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The second conference of 2015 was held at The County Hotel in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 4th and 5th November.

Spring Conference: Nottingham, March 2015

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The first conference of 2015 was held at the Hilton in Nottingham on 18th and 19th March.

Autumn Conference: York, October 2014

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Our 2014 autumn conference took place on 23rd and 24th October at the Novotel, York.

Spring Conference: Reading, April 2014

Our 2014 spring get-together was held on 18th and 19th March at the Penta Hotel, Reading.

The first of our two planned events for 2014 got under way on the evening of 18 March with a relaxed session in the bar, followed by a conference dinner. This featured our guest speaker Sir Peter Hendy. A long time career busman, Peter has been with Transport for London since its foundation, joining as Managing Director Surface Transport before being appointed Transport Commissioner in 2005. He is also currently President of the International Public Transport Union (UITP).

The morning session kicked off with an address by Marc Reddy, managing director of FirstGroup's bus operations in Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire.  Marc led the implementation of the Eclipse BRT project in Hampshire and the recent relaunch of newly branded routes in Portsmouth and Southampton. With his added Berkshire responsibilities come some iconic brands such as RailAir and Green Line, he was in a great position to talk about the challenges facing First UK Bus as it implements its transformation programme Better Journeys for Life.

YBMN patron James Freeman was next on the agenda. James introduced Reading Buses, the company he has run so successfully since 2007, and this was followed by an interactive tour of the business and its operations.

After a return to the hotel for an early lunch, we welcomed David Beaman to the conference. David is currently a Trustee of the Kithead Trust, the organisation formed to look after the bus industry's archive material. With his boss and longtime colleague Arthur Townsend, David helped to lead the management and employee buyout of the Oxford Bus Company in the 1980s, and faced the onslaught of competition from Harry Blundred's minibuses and the start of a rival coach service to London known as the Oxford Tube - both still present in the city, but these days under the guise of Stagecoach Oxford.

His account of the experiences of the 1980s formed a nice contrast with the situation today, when we welcomed Stagecoach Oxford's current MD Martin Sutton to talk about the experience of working in partnership in the city.

The conference concluded with the popular and thought-provoking workshop session.

Autumn Conference: Manchester, October 2013

The second event of 2013 took place on 23rd and 24th October in Manchester at the Mercure Piccadilly in the heart of the city centre.

We welcomed a wide variety of speakers representing the variety that we enjoy in our industry. Nigel Featham from Arriva updated us about the improvements in their operations in Yorkshire and the North East, and the exciting Sapphire project, amongst other things from the world of Arriva.

Meanwhile, local career busman Les Burton, who has just retired from his role of Operations Director at Stagecoach Merseyside & South Lancashire after 47 years' service, gave us his fascinating story from the many years on the buses in Manchester and Merseyside from being under public control to private ownership, and under the umbrella of Stagecoach. Les has been through many varied experiences in one of the biggest bus markets in the UK and tells it as it is – so this should make for a really stimulating presentation.

Ian Jones and James Backhouse of specialist transport lawyers Backhouse Jones presented an informal, best practice session on all things 'legal'. With the need for more local, focused Transport Managers expressed by the Traffic Commissioner, this was an invaluable session for future leaders in the industry. Backhouse Jones are viewed by many to be the leading law firm in the transport sector and have many high-profile clients in the bus industry – offering many lessons to take home.

And, back by popular demand, came customer service guru Alex Warner. A past business leader across bus, train, air and now working in the logistics sector, Alex is passionate about seeing improvements in how we deal with our customers and improve aspects of our service for greater success. Everybody went away highly energised to campaign for positive change after listening to him!

The event got under way at 6pm on Wednesday 23rd October, and we started with something different for the evening get-together, with a quick trip on Manchester's buses and a visit to the city's famous Curry Mile.

The workshop session also made a welcome return, as delegates shared their ideas on future marketing and branding, with the assistance of Richard Soper from FirstGroup.

Spring Conference: Bristol, June 2013

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The first YBMN get together of 2013 took place on Tuesday and Wednesday 4 and 5 June in Bristol, with another fascinating programme, complete with site visit and networking opportunities. The event took place at the Marriott Bristol City Centre Hotel in Lower Castle Street, near Old Market.

The event kicked off with drinks and dinner on the evening of 4 June, including the return of our popular pub quiz, with Alex Hornby doing the honours with the question setting and TEG's Chris Cheek acting as question master.

It was early start on Wednesday morning, for a tour of the infrastructure put in place as part of the Greater Bristol Bus Network, which set off at 0700. This £79m project has been designed to transform 10 key bus routes serving the city and surrounding areas.  The investment has seen a raft of improvements, including refurbishment of nearly 1,000 bus stops, real-time information displays, signal priorities, new bus lanes and widening at key traffic hotspots.  There was plenty to see, and impress!

The working sessions, led by YBMN patron Roger French, got under way with a fascinating hour on the hazards and opportunities of running your own bus company, given by YBMN's very own David Fricker, proprietor of North Somerset Coaches since 2007.  David described the hazards, rewards and challenges of buying a business, forging it in your own image and then taking it forward - all without it taking over your entire life!

Next, we were delighted to welcome Jeroen Weimar, part of a new leadership team of First UK Bus. As the Chief Operating Officer, Jeroen is leading the charge in the transformation of one of Britain's biggest bus companies. In a frank exposition of the tasks the team at FirstGroup faces in order to turn the business round, Jason gave the audience a fascinating insight to the challeneges they face. Enthusiastic and passionate about his role, this presentation was be both insightful and inspirational, and it was followed by a lively question and answer session.

The third speaker of the morning was Paul Jenkins, the MD of award-winning municipal bus company Thamesdown Transport - UK Bus Operator of the Year in 2011.   Paul highlighted Thamesdown's focus on the customer: part of a long tradition at the business, which stretches back to the first tramway services 109 years ago. The challenges of running a small business in centred on one town were brought into sharp relief when Paul explained what a difficult time Swindon has had during the recession and how this had impacted on the business, reversing years of growth with a sudden and sharp contraction.

After a barbecue lunch to take advantage of the fabulous Bristol weather, the last speaker of the morning session was another YBMN member - and award winner, John Bickerton who is Technical Standards manager at First UK bus. UK Bus Awards Engineer of the Year in 2011, John is a passionate advocate of engineering innovation and excellence in the industry - and gave a really fascinating presentation about the future challenges for engineering in the bus industry - both managerial and technological. Aside from a fascinating presentation and a really good Q&A session, John's talk will be long-remembered for its challenge: how to could Charlie get the gold back to England from the deseparate situation, in an old coach, perched on the top of a cliff at the end of the classic 1969 film comedy The Italian Job.

Lastly, the now traditional workshop session provided a sharp focus on the lessons learned and what the members would take home from this event, led by Cynthia Ogbonna, managing director at Cardiff Bus.

Autumn Conference: Leeds, October 2012

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The second YBMN event of 2012 took place on 23 and 24 October, and was based at the Novotel in Leeds. As before, there was an evening get together on 23 October, followed by a day session on the 24th with a visit, workshops and debates. The evening of Tuesday, 23 October saw a record 75 delegates sit down for dinner and then enjoy the popular team ‘pub quiz’, followed by a chance to network and enjoy the evening together.

We were delighted to welcome Les Warneford, the highly respected Managing Director of Stagecoach UK Bus, He agreed to speak to us during his final few months in his current role: a lifelong busman, he has worked his way up the career ladder, leading one of the UK’s best performing, largest bus operators for over a decade. An enthralling talk took us from the start of his career in Bradford via Leicester and Grimsby to Midland Red North at the time of privatisation. Back to Grimsby as MD, Les found himself part of the Stagecoach group, and the rest is history. Les also spoke about his trenchant views on the plans of some to impose Quality Contracts on the industry.

Dr Bob Tebb led the visit to the Guided Busways in the city aboard one of First Leeds' hybrid vehciles, and then gave a fascinating account of their development and potential. Nigel Eggleton, Marketing Director of Transdev Blazefield, spoke about the innovative projects that he and his team have been pursuing in Yorkshire and Lancashire. We were also delighted to welcome David Young, Director of Customer Experience at South Yorkshire PTE, talking about the delivery of the Quality Partnership in Sheffield.

Joint YBMN patron James Freeman once again led a fast-paced and fascinating workshop session to round off the event.

Spring Conference: Brighton, March 2012

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The first two-day gathering of 2012 was hosted by Brighton & Hove Bus & Coach Company, with a theme of technology.

We were delighted to welcome two distinguished high profile speakers, Mike Cooper and Norman Baker MP.

Norman is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, as well as being local MP for Lewes; he is a passionate advocate of public transport and we were delighted to welcome him to our event, when he spoke about the industry's prospects and what the Coalition was trying to do to help, and stayed to answer detailed questions.

Speaking ahead of the Government's White Paper on the future of the bus industry, Norman said that he hoped to have “achieved the impossible of keeping the bus industry happy and local authorities happy” with the proposed changes.

“I hope that we’ve come up with a package which you will think is good for the industry and certainly the intention is to get more people on buses and to take the bus centre stage,” he added.
Mike Cooper, Arriva’s UK Bus Managing Director, was our keynote speaker from the industry. He was able to offer his personal experience of running one of Britain’s biggest bus operators and to explain the group's philosophy, including such developments as mobile ticketing. Mike joined the industry after holding senior positions with easyJet and others and was able to offer an insight into his career and the differences between the industries and companies he has been associated with.

There was a panel discussion on emerging engine and vehicle technologies, including low-emission buses, featuring representatives from both operators and manufacturers, including FirstGroup and Volvo.

A behind-the-scenes visit to experience Brighton & Hove’s Real Time Information and Vehicle Positioning system  also featured, as will a presentation from Brain Higbee of Trapeze to discuss the future of RTI and passenger information.

And, as we were in Brighton, there was an opportunity to travel along some of the most powerful bus priority networks in the UK, hosted by Brighton & Hove’s Managing Director Roger French.

The first evening featured a pub quiz style event, and we also enjoyed a repeat of the successful and engaging workshop discussion at the conclusion of the entire seminar, led once again by James Freeman.

Spring Conference: Birmingham, June 2011

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Our first regular gathering at the Copthorne Hotel in Birmingham on 8th and 9th June 2011.