Stagecoach has confirmed that it has appointed Elisabeth Tasker as the new Managing Director of its bus operations in Manchester and Wigan. Currently Managing Director of Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire, she will take up her new post on 1st November.
She succeeds current Manchester and Wigan Managing Director Chris Bowles, who is stepping down from the role after a bus industry career spanning 42 years. He will remain with Stagecoach for up to 12 months, reporting directly to Stagecoach UK Bus Managing Director Robert Montgomery, to help develop the future strategy for the company’s bus network in Greater Manchester, before retiring in 2017.
Elisabeth Tasker has 30 years’ experience in the transport industry. During the first part of her career she worked in transport logistics within the heavy goods industry before joining Stagecoach Manchester as Operations Director in 2000. In 2011, she was appointed Managing Director of Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire.
Stagecoach Manchester and Wigan has 2,350 employees, including 1,800 drivers, running 800 buses out of six depots on 600 routes across the region. In 2015-16 alone, the company invested £19 million in buses and facilities. Independent research by Transport Focus has also rated Stagecoach Manchester amongst the best operators for value for money.
Greater Manchester buses carry more than eight in 10 people who travel into the city centre by public transport every day. Last year, there were more than 200 million bus journeys in the region, 111 million of those with Stagecoach. Since the late 1980s, bus passenger numbers with the company are up by around a fifth.
However, a recent independent study by respected transport expert David Begg warned that average traffic speeds have fallen to below 10mph in Britain’s busiest towns and cities, including Manchester, and bus journey times into the regional centre are currently increasing by 10% per decade. If left untreated, the study estimates it will cost an estimated 5,000 jobs per year, bus passenger numbers will drop by between 10% and 14% every 10 years, and the future of the country’s bus sector will be under threat.
Elisabeth Tasker said: “I am delighted to be returning to the Manchester area. It is one of the biggest and most important regions in the country and has a public transport network to rival any other UK city, including London.
“Buses play a key role in delivering connectivity, providing good value links to education, employment, health and leisure facilities and contributing significantly to the local economy. However, it’s clear there are tough decisions to be made in the future if we are to unleash the full potential of the bus network. Traffic congestion is strangling the city of Manchester and I look forward to working with our partners to deliver solutions which will help buses flourish and deliver even better services to the millions of customers who rely on the bus network every year.”
Robert Montgomery, Stagecoach UK Bus Managing Director, said: “I would like to congratulate Elisabeth on her appointment. Her previous experience in Manchester, and in Merseyside and South Lancashire, will serve her well in building on the many improvements that have been delivered for customers in Manchester and Wigan in recent years.
“With the launch of our new smartphone app and mobile ticketing this week, we are continuing to drive forward bus services in the area and we look forward to working with our many partners to resolve the growing issue of congestion and attract even more people on to our greener, smarter bus services in the future.”
An internal recruitment process is now underway for the position of Managing Director, Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire.