Welcome to the Director’s Blog

Buses Grasmere 3.JPG

Vectare is a fast-moving, dynamic transport consultancy, delivering creative mobility solutions to the education, retail and entertainment sectors, and local authorities. We work closely with bus and coach operators, schools and colleges and other relevant stakeholders, utilising our considerable experience within the transport industry to devise innovative, cost-effective solutions that enhance the passenger experience.

We thought that an insight into running a company like Vectare might be quite interesting to the outside world, so that’s why we decided to start up our Directors’ Blog. Written first-hand by company directors Dominic and Peter, the blog will incorporate anecdotes and illustrations from the world of transport consultancy, alongside commentary on relevant news stories and the occasional trip report from one of Peter’s public transport adventures.

Indeed, a recent bus journey I made across Cumbria is an example of all three of these things. In early December 2015, Storm Desmond caused significant damage to transport infrastructure across much of northern England. In Cumbria, one of many roads to be affected was the A591 between Grasmere and Keswick – entire sections had been washed away by the floods.

This road link is extremely strategically important both for local education and commercial traffic and for tourists making journeys through the Lakes. Its blockage made for a significant economic crisis, and a rapid response was required. An initial solution was devised by Cumbria County Council to transport schoolchildren from Grasmere to Keswick and vice versa, involving minibus shuttles, but this required children to walk over the closed road between vehicles.

A more permanent solution involved the upgrading of a forestry track running parallel to the closed road to make it capable of withstanding bus traffic, with Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire introducing a shuttle bus between Grasmere and Keswick over this new section of temporary road.

The first journey along the upgraded track operated this morning, with myself and three other passengers on board. Departing Grasmere at 06:15 we soon arrived at the entrance to the temporary road, where we were met by hi-viz clad security officers. They escorted us along the forestry track, certainly one of the narrowest roads that I have travelled along in a bus, and stuck with us until we were past the road closure and back on the normal highway network.

Only buses are permitted to use the road at the moment and, despite it being the first day of operation, loadings picked up during the main part of the day. Stagecoach offering its North West Explorer ticket for £5 (usual price £10.80) on the shuttle buses will undoubtedly have helped with this. What the project shows is that if buses are priced affordably, run reliably and offer a competitive journey time against the car, people are willing to switch away from the car.