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Traffic Office Admin: Lifting the Load

Pete Adney | June 17, 2015

Tags: Commercial operator | Traffic Office |

Photo of traffic office admin staff

I would like to begin by paying tribute to the unsung heroes of the bus industry: the traffic office staff who work to keep the UK bus industry functioning effectively. I appreciate this role because I did it myself, when I worked as assistant depot manager at Travel West Midlands. I know what it is like to work in these offices, handling administrative procedures and making sure they are followed to the letter.

The importance of this is well understood: failure to follow HR procedures – or even the inability to show they have been followed – can have catastrophic effects: drivers can lose jobs and operators can face expensive employment tribunals. And of course there’s a strong likelihood that staff morale will suffer.

Because of this, traffic office staff work incredibly hard to minimise mistakes and misdemeanours. However, external factors such as austerity, increasing paper work and understaffing, have increased workload. Workers are trying to achieve more with fewer resources – all while under intense pressure not to make mistakes.

Increasingly, this means that managers effectively act as administrators – building spreadsheets and working with peripheral systems – and spending much of their time caught in a web of bureaucracy. All of this can restrict their ability to focus on other duties which could help the bus company develop its businesses.

Thinking back to my time an assistant bus depot manager, I would say the objective – of fulfilling duties without ever making an administrative error – was close to impossible. We are all human; mistakes do happen.

To enable me to cope, I actually developed a system to do the administrative work for me. The system helped me set up appointments and interviews with drivers; manage documents; and ensured that all work followed the appropriate corporate HR policies.

This home-made system actually worked far better than I had expected – so well in fact, that it allowed me to get out of the office, and I suddenly found I was able to address other key parts of my role, including visiting bus depots and terminals; interviewing customers and staff; and looking for ways to grow our business.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of what would later become the Traffic Office Administration module for Trapeze’s Duty Allocation System (DAS). Of course, it did require a little bit of assistance from the company’s actual developers to bring the system up to commercial standards in terms of user friendliness!

Today, Traffic Office Admin acts as an Appointment Manager, Document Manager and Process Manager for traffic office staff; providing an electronic diary and recording events, while also managing all the associated event documentation and ensuring strict adherence to configurable corporate policies and procedures.

The system ensures against user errors; avoiding against costly litigation proceedings, and of course ensuring that drivers are treated consistently and fairly.

But for me the most important part is the reduction of time that traffic office staff spend on administrative tasks – ensuring they can focus their attention on areas of their job that will develop the business – just as that first Microsoft Access-built system did for me.

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About Pete Adney

Pete Adney has worked in the bus industry for over 30 years: as a driver, inspector, assistant manager, manager, and business analyst. In his present role for Trapeze he forms the crucial connection between what the bus sector needs and technology can provide: on a daily basis that involves everything from system specification to implementation. He prides himself on strong customer relationships and feels fortunate to have been part of the bus industry for so long.

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