myTrip operator spotlight
Live bus tracking is a game changer for D&G and Chaserider
We interview Chris Almond, Group Commercial Officer at Centrebus. Chris talks about his experiences of working with the myTrip team. He shares how joining myTrip was a ‘no brainer' when the group’s Chaserider operation took over from Arriva Midlands in 2021.
Centrebus incorporates the D&G and Chaserider operator brands and employs around 600 staff in, and around, Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. With around 230 buses across the group, Chris has a pivotal role at Centrebus. Gemma Vasellina-Turner, Customer Success Manager at Passenger, spoke to Chris on a call in February 2023.
Tell us about D&G and Chaserider
Centrebus incorporates the D&G and Chaserider operator brands and employs around 600 staff in and around Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. With around 230 buses across the group, Chris has a pivotal role in the business. He has come a long way in his career, and warmly remembers how he got started in the industry.
“I started as a driver and then got asked to do one small job in the office and I have never left. That was 16 years ago next week!!”
“But it’s true, the first thing you need to do is go out and learn to drive the bus. Do that for a couple of years and you really get to understand how everything works. Bus drivers are the ones that keep everything moving. They are the ones that do all the hard work and you do not deserve their respect if you can not go out and do their job.”
“This industry is the sort of thing you need to learn by getting your hands dirty. There is not a job here that I would not do myself if the business needed me to. From sweeping buses on Christmas eve to taking staff home at 2am in the morning. Taking school kids in, picking people up from a garlic bread factory at 6am. You have to do a bit of everything.”
Why join myTrip?
Chris joined myTrip in the run-up to Christmas 2020. When the business took over bus operations in Cannock and Stafford from Arriva Midlands, he needed to move quickly.
“We had to get it up and running ready for the Chaserider takeover because Arriva Midlands had 20% of their ticket sales online.” Chris knew that customers would expect continuity and that those who were buying tickets on the Arriva app would want to know they could carry on buying tickets on a mobile app provided by Chaserider.
“I basically came to Passenger on the Tuesday and said I needed it done by next week because we needed it for a particular project we were involved in. Emma probably wanted to come around and hit me!! But it was alright. It took me an hour to complete the onboarding form and we had the whole thing done within 4 days. Everyone knuckled down and got it done.“
The Chaserider brand name, which refers to Cannock Chase, was first used by Midland Red from 1977 until 1992. When Chris’s team decided to revive the Chaserider brand for the Arriva Midlands operations, he worked with myTrip to separate them from D&G in the platform, to make it easy for customers to know which tickets to buy.
Asked why he chose to sign D&G and Chaserider up to myTrip over Passenger’s Premium, white-label app product, Chris replies “It was easier than getting a white-label app basically. It is quite nice to be on a shared platform with other operators.” myTrip now has 65 operators on the platform, bringing with it a wealth of feedback for future developments.
“Before myTrip we used pen and paper, little sticky tickets with a seal on them and that was it. We sold a lot of them but it took a lot of time to produce. It was that and on the bus tickets only.”
“myTrip has significantly increased sales of student tickets. We never really had much of an outlet for them before. It is noticeable in the sales figures every four weeks they spike when students purchase their monthly passes.”
Group Commercial Officer
Gemma’s interested to find out what impact myTrip has had on D&G and Chaserider. Chris is quick to answer, “It has reduced the number of people ringing up to ask where their bus is. Including my wife! She doesn’t ring me asking where the bus is anymore. The tracking is hands-down the best part. We have been asked by a lot of places, particularly bus stations – and the bus station travel shops get asked this a lot as well – where the bus is. Now they don’t need to keep asking us! They can just go in and look for themselves in the app. I use it myself and it is always quite accurate to be fair.”
From a commercial perspective Chris is impressed with myTrip too, “It has significantly increased sales of student tickets, such as monthly and term passes too”
“We never really had much of an outlet for them before. It is noticeable in the sales figures every four weeks they spike when students purchase their monthly passes.
“It is very hard to tell if myTrip has increased patronage as we joined during the lockdown, but every metric has gone up. It’s fair to say we would have been worse off without it, especially in Cannock. It is a no-brainer really. The next 12 months will be very interesting and I am confident myTrip will help us come out the other side of it.”
Chris Almond spoke to Gemma Vasellina-Turner, Customer Success Manager at Passenger on a call in February 2023.