"Midland Metro Progress Report"
from the March 1999 edition of
Tramways & Urban Transit

written by Geoff Lusher

Geoff Lusher is General Manager of Travel Midland Metro, a subsidiary of National Express Group/West Midlands Travel and is the company which will operate Midland Metro for the concessionaires, Altram Ltd.

The vision of full staff flexibility is fast becoming reality at Travel Midland Metro, with management and administration staff completing their driver training, and appointments having been made for the group of 19 drivers who will also carry out customer care duties. This group will combine normal service driving with a range of supervisory and marketing duties, including ticket inspection, customer caring and the downloading of data from our ticket vending machines. A comprehensive training course is planned for these key staff members, with particular emphasis on Midland Metro’s fares tariff, together with those of Central Trains and Travel West Midlands, the arrangements for penalty fares, and details of connectional facilities by bus and train at each Metro stop.

Mention of the ticket vending machines reminds me that mid-January saw the arrival of our stock of 48 machines from Italtel, two for each stop with three at Snow Hill and Wolverhampton, St George’s. Testing and proving will be under way during February, with particular attention given to the change-giving capabilities of the machines, and the data download which will be carried out manually as the machines are not linked with Metro’s Control Centre. This latter feature will certainly test our ability to monitor and correct malfunctions, which are to be signalled by a flashing light visible to Metro staff. From the customer viewpoint, the machines will have the full range of single, return, transfer and day tickets, up to the Day Centrocard at £5. Investigations are continuing into the ability to sell higher value transfer tickets, such as London Marylebone via Chiltern Railways, from additional machines accepting credit cards at certain stops.

Morale of the Travel Midland Metro team remains high, despite the disruptions and delays to driver training caused by poor tram availability, and a Sports and Social Club has recently been formed, under the umbrella of the Travel West Midlands’ Sports and Social Organisation. We have joined the National Passenger Transport Sports Association and are looking forward to sporting competition with our fellow public transport operators across the country.

Next month - replacement bus services and British Transport Police on parade.

Geoff Lusher, General Manager, Travel Midland Metro

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