Stagecoach chairman Sir Brian Souter believes a tech-led proposition could soon emerge for passenger transport, and he wants the industry to lead it

 

Sir Brian Souter addressing last week’s ALBUM conference

 

The passenger transport sector must embrace technology or it will risk being sidelined by a new ‘tech stock’ entrant to the market, Sir Brian Souter has warned.

Addressing an audience of bus company managers at last week’s ALBUM conference in Cheshire, the Stagecoach co-founder and chairman said that Uber-style entrepreneurs could remould the passenger transport sector in the same way that he and others did in the 1980s and 1990s – by thinking differently and responding to what the market wants.

Taxi app Uber now claims to be in the market for $5 (£3) fares in San Francisco, “perilously close” to a bus fare in Souter’s eyes. He believes a tech-led proposition could soon emerge for passenger transport, and he warned that bus operators could find themselves relegated to a supplier role.

“My intuition is telling me that we really need to get our trainers on and think about what we’re going to do about this issue,” he said.

Souter said the industry must either work with a tech partner, on agreeable terms, or work together to create its own ‘tech stock’ – the latter being his “dream deal”.

“There’s some big, big challenges coming from this,” he said. “I think we need to raise our game.”

He believes that a successful solution would insulate the industry against moves to reregulate local bus services.

“If we did this very well, it would be ultimately impossible to reregulate, because we would control everything,” he said.

 

A full report on Sir Brian Souter’s presentation is published in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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