In one of the biggest jobs in his 26 year bus industry career, Bill Gough has been speaking about the unprecedented, most challenging times that the coronavirus crisis has brought.

And the new Chief Engineer of Reading Buses is fully confident the bus industry will be stronger and more resilient as the country comes out of the lockdown.

Although there are currently fewer people travelling on the network, the role of Reading Buses engineering department has never been more crucial and Bill is spending many hours a day looking at every scenario to safeguard passengers.

This also includes liaising with industry bodies and other operators nationwide to find ways of introducing new measures which will strengthen and improve bus travel longer term.

“As an industry, we are all in the same boat metaphorically speaking. We are facing the same challenges and we need to learn from each other,” said Bill, 45.

“In terms of bus practices, we don’t necessarily share the same commercial elements, but when it comes to vehicle technology we are of a like mind.

“A huge number of the population rely on public transport and the challenge is to get members of the public from A to B in a safe way. It’s all about how we keep vehicles clean, surfaces sanitised and how we maximise the capacity of a vehicle whilst moving to closer distances of one metre. We are continually thinking about that.

“How we can put shielding up on vehicles to maximise the space. We are looking at every possible scenario to safeguard passengers. It’s an opportunity for us to look at everything we do.

“We can potentially re-engineer the way we engineer a vehicle and we can do things differently. When we reach a new state of normal we can look to do things differently and not necessarily the way it has always been done in the industry in the past.

“For example, we can change the seating configuration on a vehicle to achieve the necessary separation of passengers.

“We shall get through this 100% and be stronger for it,” he added.

As an engineer in the bus industry, Bill says he has worked to four simple rules, the first being that every vehicle should be at MOT standard or above all year round.

The second, that quality inspections and quality repairs are carried out on time and on target. Thirdly, authentic and detailed records are kept of all work. . Fourthly, checking the quality of everything that is done.

“These four pillars,” said Bill, “are the key to engineering a safe, reliable and clean vehicle. The exciting thing for me is that these pillars are already in place at Reading Buses which means we can now begin building on them and taking things to the next level.”