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Friday, 29 January 2010

Industry get together

Last night was the annual Confederation of Passenger Transport dinner - the annual get-together for the bus, coach and light rail industry.

We welcomed our new President - Steve Whiteway, who is Commercial Director Epsom Coaches Group; we listened to Sadiq Khan, Minister of State for Transport and were entertained by BBC's John Humphrys.

On behalf of the industry Steve Whiteway reminded Government that our industry is a success story, contributing to the financial health of the nation and with excellent green credentials. Sadiq Khan congratulated the industry for its efforts but reaffirmed that the Government's proposals in respect of BSOG and powers in the Local Government Act yet to be tried were necessary.

We were missing three good friends in the industry - all of whom had died in January. Peter Hepworth, until his retirement Sales Director at Holdsworths, Bronson Fargo from ACIS who died suddenly on his way to a meeting recently, and David Cherry, who led Northern Counties in the 1970s and 80s. Good friends who will be sadly missed.

Sadiq Khan also made a clear reference to the great success of his Government's scheme to give free travel nationally to senior citizens and presented the Chief Executive of Go-Ahead Keith Ludeman a huge free bus pass given it was the occasion of his 60th birthday.

A year of uncertainty ahead - we are all hoping for an end to the recession leading to more ridership and the outcome of the general election. In particular we must pay close attention to the effects of the public sector cuts (their recession generally follows after the main economic one, with pay freezes and job cuts) and the state of the country's finances which will have to be tackled by the new Government.

One thing is certain - next year's CPT President is my PLC Director Nicola Shaw. This time next year we shall have had another great night and which we are already planning!


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