Nottingham City Transport (NCT) Managing Director, Mark Fowles, 64, is to retire in April 2021, after 27 years of industry service, and having led the company through a massive transformation to become a multi-award-winning business.
Nottingham has the highest customer satisfaction level of any city in the UK including London, as confirmed by the annual Transport Focus survey which in 2019 saw an overall score for NCT at 95% for customer satisfaction.
Bus use per head of population in Nottingham is the UK’s 2nd highest at 145 trips per head of population per annum, and 29% of customers choose to use NCT over their car.
Mark Fowles joined the bus industry in 1984, on the National Bus Company’s senior management training scheme where he held various management roles.
He left in June 1994 to become deputy MD at NCT, appointed to represent NCT in the consortium to win the contract to operate Line One of the Tram.
In 2001 Mark took over as MD of Nottingham City Transport and following the successful bid, also assumed the role of the Chairman of the Arrow Consortium which re-introduced trams to Nottingham in 2004.
To say that Mark Fowles has revolutionised public transport in Nottingham is somewhat of an understatement.
Mark had the strategic vision, determination and passion to take an under-achieving loss-making municipal bus company with a poor reputation, and transform it into the thriving beacon of public transport it has become today.
Says Mark Fowles: “I have really enjoyed my time at NCT, joining initially to see the tram through to breaking ground and staying on to change both the culture and performance of NCT. It should be the ambition of any leader that during their stewardship, they move the organisation forward, I would like to think that I have done so with NCT.
“Mark had the strategic vision, determination and passion to take an under-achieving loss-making municipal bus company with a poor reputation, and transform it into the thriving beacon of public transport it has become today”
“I believe that for the future, NCT will need to adapt its style of management to accommodate the changing exterior environment and this is a long-term process that should be managed from start to finish by a new cohesive team.
“I have every confidence that those members of the senior management team who remain, after my departure, are more than capable of managing, adapting and taking NCT forward to even greater success.”
NCT is a multi-award winning bus company and holds the record of being the only bus operator to have won UK Bus Operator of the Year five times
NCT achieved a 10-year high on all its customer satisfaction scores across all 17 service features in its own passenger research.
Pre-Covid, NCT carried just under 50 million passengers each year, on a commercial fleet of 300 buses, providing a citywide network of over 50 routes.
NCT has embraced Nottingham Clean Air requirements, working with the local authorities to upgrade the entire fleet to the highest Euro VI standard within 3 years.
With record levels of investment on its fleet and infrastructure, NCT spent £42m on 130 brand new buses and exhaust treatment systems were fitted to 180 diesel buses.
Today, NCT boasts the largest fleet of biogas double decks in the world and one of the youngest fleets in the country, with an average bus age of 5 years, this resulted in fleet emissions falling 90% as well as significant reductions CO2 and NOX emissions in the last 12 months and assisted the City achieving Government clean air targets.
Nottingham City Transport has become a showcase for public transport in the UK.
The company has been an early adopter for Smartcards, social media platforms, real-time technology, free on board Wi-Fi, and audio visual next stop announcements.
Indeed this week, contactless adult payments have been introduced to passengers as part of the Nottingham Contactless scheme which will see the first multi-operator and multi-modal contactless scheme outside London in 2021.
Mark’s success with NCT is only part of Mark’s contribution to the industry as a whole, he is actively involved with many of the industry associated UK bodies working to promote the use of public transport and lobbying the Government to support this vital but often overlooked sector.
NCT Chairman, Councillor Graham Chapman said: “Mark Fowles is a unique and very well respected figure within the bus industry nationally.
“However his main achievements are local. He has helped turn Nottingham City Transport into the best bus company in the U.K. and made us the envy of many other cities.
“The city owes him a large debt of gratitude for what he has achieved. I have personally enjoyed working with him to deliver the City Council’s transport plan.
“I am also grateful that he has left behind him a strong senior management team in place, who will be capable of taking the company forward. Nevertheless he will he sadly missed.”
Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Local Transport, Cllr Adele Williams, said: “We are incredibly proud of NCT and the big part it plays in one of the best and greenest transport networks in the country – and Mark has been central to its success over the past quarter of a decade.
“He played a key role in the introduction of modern trams in Nottingham and their integration with bus services, and has overseen massive improvements to the quality of bus services perhaps taken for granted in Nottingham but the envy of other places.
“He leaves behind, with our huge thanks, a UK-leading bus company that’s helping to tackle congestion and pollution and has a bright future ahead of it.”
More information about the new NCT Board structure will be announced in the coming months.
Listen to our exclusive interview with Mark Fowles and Ian Jones, looking back over his career, here