There’s more than a hint of Old Transit about England’s new fortnightly professional Passenger Transport, delivered yesterday. It’s like the return of a long lost friend. The industry preferred erstwhile Old Transit to any of the other offerings and, in spite of its initial promise, was largely disappointed when in its stead it had to put up with (monthly?) New Transit. Speak to any manager and it wasn’t long before they pined for Old fortnightly Transit.
Transit became New Transit because there were alternative ways of getting news. A fortnightly wasn’t able to compete against the weeklies, they felt. This applies, 18 months later and is still the biggest risk for Passenger Transport.
The weeklies are a good news source, though they tend to rely more on press releases. An improved Coach & Bus Week is now surfacing above its weekly rivals but the format lies in the balance with the recent departure of its editor, Andy Sutcliffe. Something to do with poorer than expected newsstand sales, no doubt. Passenger Transport, though, once again offers comment on and analysis of the news and not just reports. That’s to be *warmly* welcomed.
With Leon Daniels’s acquisition by TfL and early days for Giles Fearnley at First UK Bus, Passenger Transport is able to offer a tasty first issue. But it was to Chris Cheek’s analysis that I first turned. In Old Transit, each fortnight he’d dismantle the balance sheet & financial report of an operator. This was always regarded by many as a “must read” and is now apparently back with us. He looked at First West Yorkshire (16 per cent margins no less, much to the “regular opprobrium of West Yorkshire PTE”) and although perhaps not quite as detailed as previously, it was entertaining and authoritative. Cheek also gave a similarly commanding over-view of recession-busting rail growth, the likes of which the bus industry can only dream. But with Fearnley in charge, who knows.
In other areas of interest, former Southern Vectis man Stuart Linn compares the current rural & inter-urban buses once operated from the same stable by now split First Eastern National and Stagecoach (Cambus, as was). No doubt Fearnley will wish to read that, too.
Every journal must have its whimsical side. But what’s that bottom right? Surely not a reference to Omnibuses and your comments on the new Preston Bus livery?If the format seems substantially like Old Transit, there are changes. The layout’s modern (actually, I miss the old yellow of Transit) and nicely colour coded but with Old Transit-style sector headings. There’s what appears to be a regular piece by Alex Warner (late of Greyhound) as a mystery traveller. He’s dubbed Passenger Transport’s own Mary Portas (though without a shock of ginger hair). He picked Cardiff, Wales (we have done that, too). Operators who aren’t quite cutting the mustard (as Portas might put it) may well quake a little.
Thumbs up to Passenger Transport as the new industry standard. Published fortnightly. Subscription at £140 p.a. ain’t cheap though it’s available at £105 before the end of this month (monthly [?] New Transit runs at £95 p.a.). The Passenger Transport protagonists are the experienced Robert Jack & Andrew Garnett with Chris Cheek & Stuart Wilde. It includes rail news & analysis but don’t let that put you off. It would be nice to see something like New Transit-style web access as part of the subscription