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Insights from Neil Micklethwaite, CMAC Group's Chief Operating Officer on elevating public transport through a customer-centric approach.

Posted Feb 28, 2024

Neil Thought Leadership Campaign2

In the United Kingdom, trains, buses, trams, metro systems and the London Underground play a crucial role in helping people move around and reach their destinations. Public transportation is a key part of people's lives, making it possible for them to visit family and friends, get to work, enjoy leisure activities, and access important services like education and healthcare.

According to data from, on average, individuals in England made 53 trips using public transport modes in 2021, and, in 2022, public transport vehicles facilitated a staggering 5.1 billion passenger journeys across Great Britain. This highlights the integral role that public transport plays in facilitating the movement of people across the country.

For many, the cost-effectiveness of public transport compared to owning and maintaining a private vehicle is a significant factor. Additionally, the convenience of avoiding the stresses of finding parking spaces in urban areas makes public transport an attractive option.

However, despite its significance, like any big system, our public transport network faces its fair share of challenges. Delays and disruptions remain common issues, and limited funding has long been a hurdle, impacting the ability to make improvements. Despite these challenges, there remains a strong desire to make public transport and the passenger experience better.

Limited funding restricts the ability to invest in infrastructure improvements and renewals, never mind the expansion of the public transport network. This can result in outdated facilities and infrastructure, aging fleets, insufficient capacity and a lack of innovative technologies, hindering efforts to provide a competitive transport network with a great customer experience.

Another challenge is the issue of reliability and punctuality. Of course, we must recognise that there are countless journeys that do take place seamlessly every day. However, the unfortunate reality is that delays and disruptions are a regular occurrence – due to reasons such as technical malfunctions, maintenance issues, industrial action, weather and other unexpected events.

The continued high demand for public transport services during peak hours can also lead to overcrowding, causing discomfort for passengers and operational challenges for service providers. This not only inconveniences passengers but also impacts the overall efficiency and reputation of the public transport system. The increase in leisure travel post-pandemic further exacerbates the challenge of meeting demand and the necessity for upgrading or renewing infrastructure, adding to the complexity of the situation.

With a growing emphasis on environmental sustainability too, public transport systems are under a lot of pressure to reduce their carbon footprint. Transport, both public and private, was the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gases in 2019 ( But while public transport is generally more environmentally friendly than travelling by car, the need for cleaner and greener technologies, along with a commitment to sustainability practices is an ongoing challenge. An added layer is the need to ensure that the transition to sustainability remains economically viable for the end passenger.

There remains significant opportunities to make improvements via technology. Integrating advancements such as contactless payment systems and real-time tracking can greatly enhance the efficiency and user experience of public transport. Beyond this, optimising retail and distribution aspects as well as differentiated and simpler pricing models to suit the modern customer continue to be required. However, it's crucial to acknowledge that the adaptation and implementation of these improvements require substantial investments too.

Effectively addressing these challenges requires a collaborative approach involving government bodies, transport agencies, urban planners, and rural communities. As cities and regions continue to grow, finding sustainable and efficient solutions is crucial for the continued success and growth of our public transport systems.

While we aim to tackle long-term challenges in public transport, we must still make the most of the current situation. No doubt that with an increase in satisfied customers, we would also see a rise in the use of public transport.

As difficult as it is ‘in the moment’, instead of seeing delays and disruptions as problems, we must begin to view these situations as opportunities to make the customer experience better. Embracing this mindset empowers us to turn setbacks into stepping stones for progress. It encourages creativity and adaptability, with a customer-centric approach to continually enhance the quality and reliability of the services.

As the population grows, ages and with the environment at the forefront of many people's minds, the future should be promising for public transport. But to entice customers away from the convenience of their cars, public transport must become a more attractive alternative.

Ensuring passengers can consistently reach their destinations, regardless of disruptions, requires robust contingency plans. As a crucial part of the transport ecosystem and the ‘glue’ that holds all modes together, this is where CMAC's specialised services come into play.

Each delay or disruption presents a chance to demonstrate a commitment to customer satisfaction, ensuring clear, honest and timely communication with swift resolutions. Travellers today prioritise affordability, flexibility, safety, and seamlessness in their journeys, and the industry needs to address uncertainties head on to regain trust.

At CMAC, we stand alongside public transport services to provide on-demand alternative travel when things don't go to plan, to ensure passengers have the best experience possible, whilst still reaching their destinations in a timely manner.

By thinking this way, we can focus on what customers really need. This helps to not just deal with issues but also keeps us moving forward, always aiming to make the customer experience the best it can be.

Let CMAC support your business.

CMAC is an award-winning ground transportation business with extensive experience in handling major disruption logistics for a range of scenarios, ranging from planned maintenance work to unforeseen critical emergencies.

With almost two decades of experience, CMAC's transportation solutions have consistently protected passengers from disruptions, helping them avoid the inconvenience of being left stranded.

Boasting over 2.5 million+ vehicles globally, CMAC makes it simple to move people safely and efficiently - so your business can focus on what it does best.

To find out more about the services we offer, submit your details here and a member of our team will get back to you. Alternatively, give us a call on 03333 207 100.

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