The Covid crisis has challenged the capabilities of all bus company employees - not least the schedulers. Many regarded them as unsung heroes before the pandemic. However, the speed and ingenuity that schedulers have demonstrated since March 2020 has led to enhanced recognition of the vital role they play.
Recognition of schedulers and their important role was boosted by the inaugural Joe Wood Scheduler of the Year Award, which was launched by Passenger Transport magazine and CitySwift last year.
The award is a tribute to Joe Wood, a widely respected young bus manager who died in 2019. Joe had worked in scheduling roles at Go-Ahead, Stagecoach and Reading Buses before joining CitySwift’s fast-expanding team. He posthumously received the President’s Award at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s Annual Awards for Excellence.
Despite disruption caused by the pandemic, Trentbarton’s Richard Sherratt was named as the first ever Joe Wood Scheduler of the Year last November. After winning the prize, he said: “It’s nice to be recognised as the industry does not always appreciate the work that goes into getting the services ready and the bus to the bus stop.”
Sherratt, who has been in the industry for over 40 years after joining straight from school, told us that 2020 had been very different from a scheduling point of view as a result of the pandemic.
“We had to cope with changes seemingly every week early in the first lockdown,” he said. “But it’s just one of those challenges; the work has to be done. The art of being a good scheduler is to go unnoticed. Like any job, the trick is making the hard things look easy.”
"The art of being a good scheduler is to go unnoticed. Like any job, the trick is making the hard things look easy."
The 2021 competition is launching this month, providing a further opportunity to raise awareness of the work that is done by schedulers and celebrate leaders in the field. Commenting on the award’s return, CitySwift COO Alan Farrelly said “As Richard Sherratt says, the art of being a good scheduler is to go unnoticed - but we don’t want them to go unrecognised!"
“Schedulers help decide how our cities move. They identify efficiencies that make public transport services a commercial success as well as more attractive and more affordable for users. Our team has been privileged to work with some great schedulers, but even we have been amazed by how they responded to the pandemic. They worked miracles to recast timetables time and again as service levels reduced and then returned. This year’s Joe Wood Scheduler of the Year Award offers an opportunity to celebrate this vital work.”
"Our team has been privileged to work with some great schedulers, but even we have been amazed by how they responded to the pandemic."
The entries will be judged by an expert panel of judges from across the industry and five finalists will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Galway, Ireland for the award ceremony in February.