Saturday, 16 February 2013

Green and red

Stagecoach in South Wales are rolling out a green-light system to show how well their drivers drive. GPS equipment on board which detects numerous movements each minute is able to show how harshly a driver brakes or accelerates, how much they swerve in and out of traffic and so on. The system, which can be seen by the driver using a green, amber, red light system, can show immediately how well a driver drives a bus, plus they can also find out online afterwards how they perform.

Such a system is common in a few other parts of the UK. The main motivation for installing such a system is to provide savings on fuel costs, especially with the reductions in BSOG (Bus Service Operator's Grant, which provides a tax rebate on fuel used in service).

However, if drivers are going to be penalised for harsh acceleration and braking, tight timetables are going to struggle even more. Routes that struggle to maintain time are going to struggle even more to the point where they may well have to be rescheduled, or Stagecoach will feel the wrath of fines from VOSA. In some cases, any efficiency savings from using less fuel may well be cancelled out, or may even cost the company more, in using extra vehicles/drivers to maintain the timetables. Who knows, maybe the system will cost some routes more than it will save them? What will happen then? Frequency cuts rather than extra buses to maintain the same service levels?

Interesting times ahead, that's for sure!

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