In Your Shoes - Marc Winsland

Marc joined Dundee’s biggest bus company in August 2015, shortly before it launched its new, local identity as ‘Xplore Dundee’. The business operates a fleet of more than 100 buses and provides a city-wide bus network which carries tens of thousands of Dundonians every day to work, school, shops and hospitals (and everywhere else in between). Initially recruited for six months as a Branding Assistant, Marc quickly grew into his role - and it grew with him. Today, he is Commercial Officer, with responsibilities in marketing, network evaluation and stakeholder engagement. He is a strong advocate for sustainable transport as a means of tackling the climate crisis and making communities more accessible for everyone. 

Facebook: @XploreDundeeBus

Twitter: @XploreDundee

Instagram: @xploredundee

Making every day count

Monday is data day. It makes sense to start off a new week by taking stock of the last one, after all. My first port of call is to quickly run through the tallies of how many passengers we carried day-by-day, route-by-route. Like every business, the impact of Covid-19 has been severe for Xplore Dundee - so much so that I've been excited to see demand hover just above 70% in the last few weeks (in more ordinary times, such a drop from the norm would have set off alarm bells; these days, it's a relief). Then my attention turns to tickets: working out how popular each of them are, how much revenue they've raised, and where we need to concentrate our attention in future. Contactless payments and app usage continue to grow - a promising sign that bus travel is keeping up with the times.

Happy to Help

On Tuesday, I joined my colleague Mel in the Travel Centre. Usually, I work from my office at the depot on Dock Street - but was asked to spend the day covering for one of our team-members who'd been asked to self-isolate following a Covid outbreak in Kirriemuir. They're safe and well, thankfully, but it's a real reminder for all of us that Covid is still out there and we need to be careful. I always enjoy spending a day in the Travel Centre, meeting passengers and helping them with whatever they need. It's even better now that we've moved into bright, spacious new premises (a few doors down from the old shop) on Commercial Street. In the afternoon, I joined a call with partners at Urban Foresight, who updated me on the pilot project for Dundee's first 'Mobility as a Service' scheme. Xplore Dundee is always pleased to support innovation like this.

Taking off again at last

I was back in the office again on Wednesday, where the agenda was all about marketing. It's been a strange time to be a commercial officer: we can't openly promote ourselves in the way we usually would, just in case we make buses too busy for safe physical distancing. But it was worthwhile getting together to talk about our priorities so that we're ready to go when restrictions are lifted. The most exciting thing we talked about was the long-awaited return of the Edinburgh Airport Xpress. We launched it to great acclaim in June 2019, and its early success made us hopeful for a busy summer in 2020. Little did we know that the world was about to get turned on its head, and that our newest venture would end up on hiatus for more than a year. When it takes off again on 21 June (with bookings from 14 June), we look forward to it being bigger and better than ever before.

Times are changing

I spent time with the Schedules Officer on Thursday to sketch out our plans over the summer. Last year, I led on redesigning the bus network so that it remains fit for the future, and this was introduced after a lot of preparation in January 2021. With the structure of the network now set and running well, we need to turn our attention to timetables. Traffic volumes have shifted greatly since the pandemic began: the traditional morning peak has flattened and day-times are fairly steady, but the afternoon rush now starts earlier and finishes later than it used to. Obviously, this has been brought about by changes in people's working practices and social habits. It feels like a new world out there, so we’re making sure our bus services keep their place within it.