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Author Topic: James Freeman - MD of First West of England - to retire from business, 5.2021  (Read 7659 times)
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« on: September 09, 2020, 10:41:40 am »

From Coach and Bus Week

James Freeman, who rose from bus conductor to becoming the Managing Director of First West of England, the area’s main bus operator, has announced that he is retiring from the business next May.

Freeman, who lives in Bath, has overseen a major transformation of the bus company in the region since he arrived six years ago, including the introduction of one of the largest fleets of biomethane buses across the country and the roll out of the £230m rapid transit metrobus development in Bristol. Prior to the impact of the coronavirus on the bus industry, the business had seen growth in passenger numbers of between 6-10% per year during his tenure.

Today, First West of England employs some 1,800 staff and has a fleet of 600 vehicles covering Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and parts of Somerset and Wiltshire.

Freeman previously held leadership positions with Reading Buses and Stagecoach, where he was Chief Executive Officer and a Managing Director respectively. He had previously worked as Managing Director of Badgerline Transit Developments in 1987 which was eventually subsumed into First Group which is the parent company for First Bus. He was just 28 when he was appointed to his first Managing Director role at Shamrock & Rambler Coaches in Bournemouth.

Says Freeman: “I am a very lucky person in that I have been able to spend my career in a sector about which I am extremely passionate.  From an early age I was fascinated by buses and felt then that I could help to make them run. My first contact with the company was when I boarded a brand new bus on display outside Marlborough Street Bus Station in Bristol in 1968. The man I talked to on that day helped make up my mind day that I would make my career on the buses.

James is a true professional, an enthusiastic supporter of public transport, and a person has time for, and understands, his staff, passengers and partners.  Fond, fond memories of working with him in the days that First Bus served Melksham. His shoes at First Bus will be big ones for anyone to fill.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2021, 06:02:01 pm by Red Squirrel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2020, 05:44:25 pm »

It's a shame he cannot sort out the position across Portishead and probably the rest of North Somerset, where all the digital displays say 'Please refer to timetables' and the timetable cases are still displaying the covid 19 emergency notices that have been there since April. A check on next bus shows that the updates from Sunday 6th have not been included. If he was wondering why passenger numbers are still well down, it might be because we can't get the information about what buses are running !
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2020, 06:09:30 pm »

The digital displays in Swindon haven’t worked for the last couple of years. 
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2021, 05:47:05 pm »

From First, West of England's Facebook page.

Today we are saying goodbye to James Freeman, our Managing Director, who is heading for retirement.
Over the past six and a half years he has overseen a huge transformation of the company, so we’re looking back at some of the brilliant changes he has brought to First West of England.

James has worked to establish First West of England at the forefront of sustainable developments in the bus industry, which has included the introduction of one of the largest fleets of bio-methane buses in the UK (United Kingdom).
He’s seen the roll-out of the metrobus rapid transit services in Bristol, getting people in the city to where they need to be faster and more smoothly.

He saw early on that technology had huge potential, and in 2016 launched the revolutionary mTickets which are now the principal means of buying bus travel. Since then, he’s also seen the introduction of contactless payments, and more recently, Tap & Cap payment.

And, of course, he’s brightened up the bus routes in the West of England with some distinctive new liveries!

We wish him all the best for retirement and would like to extend a very warm welcome to our new Managing Director, Doug Claringbold.

I would like to add what a huge pleasure it has been for me as a customer and community representative to work with James - his down to earth approach yet forward looking, his enthusiasm, his positivity in spite of some difficult decisions to be made and implement, and his honesty and trust in us in the community.

James, should you read this - wishing you a very very long and happy retirement and if - just if - you should get bored we would love inputs and assistance in the next better bus service in these Wessex parts.   I do hope we see you on Salisbury Plain in the next year or two.

To Doug Claringbold, welcome ... and wishing you all the best as we work forward with BBB.   You have a hard act to follow, but an excellent team to help you follow that act.

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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2021, 12:39:54 pm »

I dropped a note to James - lovely letter back, thanking us for our goodwishes.    As it includes personal stuff and plans, not posting it in public but I can share with those who have liked the topic.

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