Services to the Industry 2010

Article Index

Winner: Frank Clegg MBE, General Manager - Buses, Translink

Frank Clegg, this year's winner

The Citation

This year’s Award for Services to the Bus Industry goes to somebody whose career with the industry dates back some 43 years to the day in 1967 when he jointed the industry as a clerk, subsequently rising to his current position as a General Manager.

Throughout that period, his leadership skills have helped his company through some very difficult times, and he has managed a series of major innovations over the last decade or so which have transformed bus services, achieved substantial market growth and completely changed public perceptions of public transport in the area.

Committed to the well being of the staff who work with him, he is always ready to share the benefit of his knowledge and experience to guide and help when needed.

From working on the frontline of bus service provision during the height of civil unrest in his home province, through to his current role as a General Manager, this year’s winner is known for his passionate commitment to providing the best possible service to the public.

The UK Bus Awards Management Committee is delighted to be able to recognise such long, devoted and successful service to the industry which he loves.

A portrait of Frank Clegg

A passionate interest in buses has been the driving force behind Frank Clegg’s career. He joined Belfast Corporation Transport Department in September 1967 as a Clerical Officer, working on the trolleybus conversion programme and then helping to cope with the devastation wrought to the bus network by the troubles - often working through the night to revise and adapt schedules to match available staff and resources and keep the services running.

Frank was promoted steadily through the 1970s and 1980s, becoming Central Area Operations Manager responsible for all Ulsterbus/Citybus and Flexibus operations within the Greater Belfast Area from 1990.

Appointed Network Technical Support Manager in 1999, he took responsibility for the management of all Research, Development and Service Planning functions within the expanded Translink organisation.

He managed the introduction of such innovations as the Goldline Express Network, and in February 2005, the award-winning Belfast Metro network as well as the ongoing programme of Ulsterbus network reviews. He assumed the role of General Manager, Bus Services in an acting capacity in January 2007, an appointment made permanent in April 2009.

He has been key driver in Translink’s success story following the significant changes across the company - last year around 70 million passenger journeys were made – an increase of almost 6 million from 2004/05. His commitment to staff and employees is also well noted throughout the company as he is always ready to share the benefit of his knowledge and experience to guide and help when needed.

Frank worked as a volunteer for the Red Cross between 1970 and 1992 and was awarded the MBE for services to public transport in Northern Ireland in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List.

You can read the full text of Frank’s nomination on the next page


Translink’s nomination of Frank Clegg for the ‘Services to the Bus Industry Award’

Frank Clegg

Frank has delivered a high level of consistent service, often in very difficult circumstances, in order to promote and sustain bus travel in Northern Ireland. There has been much change in the delivery of public transport over the years and Frank has been at the heart of this. His commitment to providing the best possible service to the public is well known.

Frank has enjoyed service and network planning from he was a child. His mathematical mind meant that he thrived on re- writing current bus timetable booklets to see where he could make improvements. Frank would then send the timetables into the ‘Belfast Corporation Transport Department’ and recommend where they could make efficiencies. This passionate interest in buses was the driving force behind his career and Frank joined Belfast Corporation Transport Department in September 1967 as a Clerical Officer.

After September 1967, trolleybuses were being withdrawn in Belfast and during this changeover Frank quickly got involved in timetables. In 1969 the troubles in Northern Ireland broke out. 1969-1971 were a horrendous couple of years and during this period of civil unrest; buses were seen as an easy target to be used as a barricade. There were burnings on the Shankill and Falls and many depots were in hotspot areas, including Short Strand, Falls Park, Ardoyne and Mount Pottinger, this meant they were vulnerable to attack and often out of action.

It was Frank’s task to write timetables on the basis that buses couldn’t operate everywhere, employees couldn’t get to work and services may have had to be pulled at the last minute. These were extremely challenging circumstances to organise services, it was common that he wouldn’t know how many vehicles were in operation until that day. Timetables had to be designed to work even if a certain service would be removed.
Frank always saw the importance of the bus service and the meaningful role it plays in the daily lives of the local population - even during these very difficult circumstances having services in place helped to sustain a degree of normality as people tried to go about their daily lives. Many nights Frank worked on timetables until 5am, keeping abreast of the ongoing situation and adapting as circumstances unravelled. Due to the depots being out of action, buses were kept in the Naval Yard.

It was basic timetable scheduling using clipboards and radios, handing work to drivers as they drove past in convoy. Frank would then return to his office and start scheduling meal breaks for those drivers who had managed to get to work.

Frank’s talents soon got him promoted - to Executive Assistant in 1973 when bus services were transferred to Citybus Limited where he took up the post of Schedules Officer with responsibility for the compilation of all regular and emergency schedules. New challenges had to be faced as Citybus Limited was in the process of transferring to driver only operations. There were constant changes to timetables as routes were being transferred to this new arrangement and the civil unrest was ongoing. Frank thrived on this emergency/ crisis work, and exercised crucial skills motivating staff in unique, pressurised times.

Promoted once again in 1981 he moved to Short Strand Depot as Depot Manager with a staff of 260. In 1985 he transferred to Ulsterbus Limited based at the then Oxford Street Depot with the responsibility for the management of this location and Sub Depots of Comber, Ballygowan, Carrickfergus and Whitehead.

The eighties became increasingly difficult; buses were not just used as barricades, but were now threatened with explosive devices. The organisation lost many buses every weekend. Frank was tasked with the duty of obtaining buses from GB and led a team of drivers every third weekend to London to bring between 12-18 buses back in an attempt to replenish the fleet and maintain services for the public.

Despite the work challenges, Frank also made time to volunteer as a British Red cross aid worker with his wife. The ambulance service was also under extreme pressure at this time and he often combined rescuing bus drivers from frightening conditions with his British Red Cross work. Frank worked with the British Red Cross from 1970 until 1992.

In 1988 he undertook the post of Special Projects Manager reporting directly to the Managing Director for the implementation of designated projects within the organisation. As part of this Frank produced the first staff magazine ‘The Express’ - still around today under the name ‘Express Lines’. Frank launched the Belfast – Dublin cross border bus service and the Belfast-Derry service, both now part of the flagship Goldline Express network and continue to be significant success in present times.

In 1990 Frank became Central Area Operations Manager responsible for all Ulsterbus/Citybus and Flexibus operations within the Greater Belfast Area. The troubles were presenting different problems from they had before. The organisation was providing bus travel in the face of adversity. Drivers were frequently attacked and 12 drivers paid the ultimate sacrifice throughout the troubles. Frank continued to motivate and encourage employees in order to continue providing the people of Northern Ireland with a bus service.

In 1995 Citybus and Ulsterbus integrated with Northern Ireland Railways to become Translink. This created both opportunities and challenges as the company entered a significant change programme. At this time Frank’s role had to adapt, taking responsibility for elements of the Northern Ireland Railways operations.

In 1999 Frank became directly responsible for the ongoing development and implementation of the key features of the Belfast Operational Review with the title of this post subsequently changing to Network Technical Support Manager. He took responsibility for the management of all research, development and service planning functions within the organisation.

During this time significant improvements were made to both Belfast City Services and Ulsterbus services to meet passenger demand, deliver efficiencies and move to modern day working practices.

Frank led his team through a series of successful network reviews; the first of these was to restructure the inter-urban Goldline Express Coach Network following the delivery of 50 brand new high quality coaches. Operating around 140 daily departures across Northern Ireland these services were enhanced to offer improved frequency on the most popular routes to attract additional patronage.

Frank also recognised the importance of having the right quality product in place – better frequencies, quality coaches, value for money pricing and enhanced customer care in order to build brand values and build brand proposition. Since the re-launch of these services in April 2004, patronage has grown by over 20% showing the benefit of this approach.

The Belfast Bus Services Review was the next major project. The ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland had left their mark on the bus service with the image and perception was poor. Burning buses had all too regularly hit the headlines, while passenger numbers were falling. Northern Ireland was entering the peace process and the company had to look at how it could modernise and move with the changes within the city.

Frank played a key role in this review which was the biggest change in Belfast in over 30 years. The service rebranded from Citybus to Metro. The new simplified Metro network also integrated Citybus and greater Belfast Ulsterbus services, unifying the network of services within the greater Belfast area.

The new Metro service delivered better services for more people, improved punctuality, reliability and significantly enhanced Sunday services. To deliver this Frank and his team worked tirelessly to negotiate with bus drivers and unions to establish a new working agreement and change management programme, which enabled the introduction and ongoing success of Metro.

Patronage has increased by 30% since Metro was launched in February 2005. This is even more significant given the context that Belfast is cited by the Royal Chartered Institute Surveyors as the most car dependant city in Europe.

In January 2007, Frank was given the role of Acting General Manager – Bus Services with the overall responsibility for the Translink Bus Network. This was confirmed as a permanent appointment in April 2009. Meanwhile, in 2008 Frank gained recognition in the New Year’s Honours List: he was awarded an MBE ‘for services to Public Transport in Northern Ireland’.

Further reviews have been carried out on local Ulsterbus services and local town services to enhance the rural networks.

Safety is of course a top priority. Throughout his career and during his current role he has overseen the introduction of safety management systems in line with corporate changes and improvements. Recent successes have also included Safety Awards at the prestigious Federation of Passenger Transport NI Awards in 2009 for Route Risk Assessments and 2010 for First Use Driver Safety Checks.

Frank has also been involved in delivering more accessible services and has been involved in the purchase of hundreds of modern, ‘greener’ new vehicles in recent years.  Frank has also championed the need for improved accessibility and 91% of Metro vehicles and 67% of Ulsterbus vehicles now meet current accessibility standards.

Customer care has always been to the forefront of Frank’s decisions. A major customer care programme for all drivers was recently completed – You are the difference. Drivers had a ‘hard city’ image again built up on the back of the troubles. This project was founded on research demonstrating that the public have highly developed observation skills. Actors were used to bring to life real situations, real issues and real environments for employees and customers. This creative training was very well received by all and was rewarded with a national A&B training and people development award last year.

Frank has also played a role in the development of bus priority measures, Park and Ride and other infrastructure projects always looking at ways to improve services and attract more people on board.

Many challenges have presented themselves throughout Frank’s career particularly during the periods of civil unrest from 1969 onwards with in excess of 1,500 buses being totally destroyed and many public transport staff being involved in extremely traumatic situations. Maintenance of bus services involved adjusting routes, timetables and reorganising staff at little or no notice in order to continue to provide a vital public transport service.

This start to Frank’s career gave him invaluable skills to take the company forward.Metro in Belfast is now seen as a very modern, reliable service and has gained international interest due to its success with visits to review the changes and developments from other bus operators and public authorities from around the world.

Frank has and is fully committed to public transport and a real advocate, and takes every opportunity to promote the wider benefits to the economy, environment and for social inclusion.

He continues to look at innovative ways to review the network to continue to meet modern day demand. Projects are also in place to meet environment challenges including eco driving techniques. Ticketing is also an area where Frank has been integral and has contributed his knowledge and experience to the introduction of smartcards and other ticketing developments.

He has been key driver in Translink’s success story following the significant changes across the company - last year around 70 million passenger journeys were made – an increase of almost 6 million from 2004/05. His commitment to staff and employees is also well known throughout the company, and he is always ready to share the benefit of his knowledge and experience to guide and help when needed.

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