Abellio is making a real difference within the industry by helping women to become leaders at every level of the business

Women represent over 30% of Abellio’s operations management teams, and 50% amongst the senior operations managers

By Lorna Murphy

On International Women’s Day it is incredibly exciting to celebrate the contribution of women in the history of passenger transport, in particular, the importance of women to London’s iconic buses. Only 50 years ago Jill Viner made headlines as she became the first official female London Transport driver. Since then, the industry has become more diverse; women sit at the heart of dynamic modern operators, transporting millions of customers in safety and comfort every day.

As a proud operator for Transport for London, Abellio has over 800 buses, 51 routes, 2,500 employees and six depots. We are currently one of the smaller operators in London, but our growth and success stems from all of the dedicated and skilled people within our business. Last July, we opened a brand new depot in Hayes, West London; the building plaque was unveiled by Louise Cheeseman, director of buses for TfL. Women who were integral to the delivery of this outstanding project were represented across every level and element of the business, watching them celebrate success together was a real highlight for me.

In my role as operations director for Abellio, I am incredibly proud that women represent over 30% of our operations management teams, and 50% amongst the senior operations managers. That diversity brings so much to depot life but also thought leadership and in the different approaches, ideas, and initiatives that we benefit from day to day.

Having started my career as a graduate trainee with National Express and gaining my licence, I worked across a variety of roles and businesses within the group. In 2009, I moved across to Abellio as an operations manager. When I first started out there were just 4% female employees, and it is hugely encouraging to see this growth in representation to nearly 12% today. But there’s clearly still a huge amount to do within the industry – improving facilities, shift patterns, and breaking down the (largely psychological) block around driving a large vehicle and more.

We really are in the people business, not the bus business

One of the reasons I was attracted to the industry was because of the clear people focus I saw demonstrated right from the start of the recruitment process. We really are in the people business, not the bus business. Abellio and the industry as a whole is a fantastic place to work, surrounded by a huge variety of people from every walk of life. You get to do things and meet people you really wouldn’t elsewhere, and I thoroughly recommend this industry to everyone.

Abellio makes a real difference within the industry by supporting women to achieve their goals within their roles and to become leaders at every level of the business. I think that’s especially important in bus as it’s perceived as a traditionally male environment; people need to see role models in all positions to challenge that view and make the industry as a whole more accessible.

Together, as a business we have achieved so much; our spirit of collaboration and diversity has created a solid foundation for an aspirational future. We have an ambitious vision for the future of transport that will see us support TfL to provide cleaner and greener journeys that benefit all Londoners. Abellio is leading the way on introducing state-of-the-art electric infrastructure across our depots and implementing zero emission electric vehicles across many of our routes. By the end of this year over 70% of our fleet will be fully EV or hybrid and there is so much more to come.
I am so proud to lead diverse and collaborative teams that are supported at all levels to succeed. I am confident that together we will achieve our goals and leave a legacy of sustainability and inclusion.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lorna Murphy started her career with National Express before moving to Abellio London Bus in 2009. She is now the company’s operations director.

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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