At a special virtual awards ceremony last week, Trentbarton scheduler Richard Sherratt was named as the first Joe Wood Scheduler of the Year

Richard Sherratt

Despite disruption as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, last week saw Trentbarton’s Richard Sherratt named as the first ever Joe Wood Scheduler of the Year.

The awards scheme was launched by CitySwift and Passenger Transport to shine a light on the important work done by schedulers and celebrate leaders in the field. Nominations were received from bus companies large and small across the UK.

The winner of the competiton had been due to be announced earlier this year at a ceremony in Galway, Ireland, but as both Britain and Ireland locked down as a result of the pandemic, the decision was taken to hold a virtual ceremony. It included a panel discussion on the future of the bus industry, moderated by Passenger Transport managing editor Robert Jack and a tribute to Joe Wood, who was a talented industry manager and former bus scheduler, who sadly died last year. Joes’s father, Gary presented Sherratt with his award.

The judges for the inaugural competition, which included Bus Users chair and Norfolk Green co-founder Ben Colson MBE, Go North East managing director Martijn Gilbert and Passenger Transport deputy editor Andrew Garnett, reviewed all the entries.

“The standard of the entries of this inaugural award was incredibly high and that made choosing a winner incredibly difficult,” noted Garnett.

However, Sherrat impressed the judging panel with his working methods and by knowing that a schedule is more than what can be achieved on paper. They added it was clear that he makes a point of understanding the demographics, traffic and significant movements on every route, and uses telematic data to assess the driving styles of the team. He’s also not afraid to challenge the status quo and has the data to back up his decisions in an informed way.

In the view of the judges, these key skills made Sherratt a very worthy winner of the competition.

The art of being a good scheduler is to go unnoticed. Like any job the trick is making the hard things look easy

“Winning was a big surprise,” said Sherrat who has been in the industry for over 40 years after joining straight from school. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. 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.”

He said 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,” Sherratt added. “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.”

Jeff Counsell, managing director of Trentbarton, paid tribute to Sherratt’s skills. “Scheduling is fundamental to what we do as a bus company. Richard makes it possible for our network to do what it does every day,” he said.

“It’s great to see all the finalists celebrated and the challenging role of scheduler get this national recognition. And in a clearly talented field I’m delighted that Richard deservedly won this award. We’re very pleased to have him on our team.”

This story appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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