Making the most of what you have got

Managing Partner of Anthony’s Travel, Richard Bamber, says we need to think about the here and now as well as planning for an electric future.

As a huge fan of boxing I have travelled not only the length of the UK but around the world, I have been at some of the most memorable nights in the sports recent history and got to know personally many of the boxers in the UK and their training teams, there is probably not many headline Boxers from the past four decades I haven’t met. Twenty seven years ago a training camp in Tenerife I once had the misfortune of climbing in the ring with the Dark Destroyer Nigel Benn, I don’t think my knees have stopped knocking since!

You can learn a lot from boxing, that’s why its referred to as ‘noble art‘. Sometimes fighters have slipped up looking too far into the future and not concentrating on their next opponent, not made the most of the talents they already have and rush to embrace styles that do not suit their skill set or get rid of their training team for a cheaper option, people that make the right sounds, tell you what you want to hear but ultimately can’t deliver- a costly mistake that happens time and again.

A boxing ring can be a lonely place once your inside the ropes , if you haven’t prepared right, you failed to analysis your opponent or surround yourself with the right team the truth will eventually find you.

So what’s boxing got to do with the coach industry you may ask?

So what do we know about the opponent, well not too much really – is it powered by electric ‘ hydrogen or maybe something else but by 2040 it will be the champion of our division – Introducing in the red corner is ‘Net Zero’.

But while we worry about the shape and size of this potential opponent what about the day to day challenges now , how do we keep fighting fit and ensure we are best placed when our time comes?

Firstly we need to focus on the present, this is the start of our training camp and we need to adapt techniques , methods and have a team that will get us in great shape for the future.

The late Arthur Ashe said: “Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can“ so how can we start that journey to net zero with our current assets.

Firstly I strongly believe that the government are so focused on the end goal they are forgetting about the here and now, its fine to focus on 2040 but what about pollution now, what about our predominantly euro 6 fleets will they become stranded assets, how can our small depots can be adapted for new technology and will it be right for our industry?

That’s where trade associations come into their own, I am a big advocate of trade bodies, make sure your views , your opinions are best represented – don’t sit back and let others do the heavy lifting, its your industry and your future.

Whilst there has been some huge strides in electric coaches in recent years with the fantastic vehicle Yutong have available we are somewhat lagging compared to our friends in the bus sector as our operations and range are completely different. That’s why I personally think the industry needs to collaborate with the much larger haulage industry as the technology used on trucks will undoubtedly influence the direction of the coach industry. That’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about RHA Coaches as our synergy with the Road Haulage Association brings us a collective voice of over 8500 members , by unity within road transport we can make sure our voices are best heard.

But also need to look at how we can reduce our C02 now working with what we have available now.

Telematic systems and incentives for Drivers can make a big difference in fuel consumption which in turn reduces C02, using the right grades of oil, fitting tyre pressure management systems, better route planning can all give them little percentages that shows we can make a difference now.

Let’s also not forget travelling by coach is a far more environmentally friendly way of transport than the equivalent of 15 family cars heading to the same destination, this messaging needs to be heard time and again, be it in your own promotion or through the trade associations.

We need to put increasing pressure on the government to further promote HVO fuel as a viable alternate whilst we go through this transition decade.

If an essential user rebate scheme was applied to HVO and the existing fleets of HGV and Coaches started using it practically overnight the emissions from our industries will diminished by 80%, that’s some achievement and some way to reducing pollution.

At RHA we have a superb Technical Director , our own Merlin’s Wizard called Paul Allera, Paul has tried and tested virtually every method of efficiency savings such on trucks and coaches throughout his many years in the industry. Paul contacted me with a fantastic way of increasing MPG whilst reducing overall consumption and C02 output in the process, we needed a haulier and coach operator to trail the equipment and I met the bill for the latter.

The affordable product is called Fuel Active and has been widely used on plant equipment for a number of years. Whilst sceptical my attitude was the proof will be in the pudding. Well the pudding has been pretty good up to now with an average saving of 7% and a noticeable increase in performance. We have since fitted all our coach fleet with this system and by the end of the year our minicoaches will be fitted with Fuel Active too.

Then we have Irizar with their I6 efficient vehicle which from first impressions is a fantastic vehicle, with a series of design measures to improve efficiency and reduce consumption, I am sure other manufacturers will follow Irizar’s lead on how best to work with the ‘here and now‘ rather than become blinded by the future.

Think globally act locally – whilst the journey to net zero is a global issue , electric substations, hydrogen refill sites and basic infrastructure is often down to your local authorities and devolved government – get involved with your nearest chamber of commerce, engage with your local council CEO – get involved at grassroots level at shaping the community you trade in.

Whatever direction you take, keep your gloves up and defend yourself at all times.

FIRST APPEARED in Coach & Bus Week – here.