The Blackpool Gazette has revealed official statistics confirming that the number of complaints received by Blackpool Transport during last year had increased by nearly a fifth from 2011. In 2012, the company received 1,519 complaints, compared to the 1,282 complaints recorded in 2011. However, representatives of the company have responded that the figures remain respectable as this represents just 13 complaints made for every 100,000 passengers carried.
The main focus of negative feedback was reliability, punctuality and the conduct of platform staff on buses and trams. However, many of the complaints related to factors beyond Blackpool Transport’s control, such as disruption to services caused by events including last summer’s Elton John concert and the illuminations switch-on, both of which effectively divided the promenade road and tramway into two sections. With the re-opening of the entire tram system and a massive increase in passenger numbers on the trams, an increase in complaints registered was probably inevitable although this fact will probably be ignored by critics of the operator looking for an excuse to be negative!
Bob Mason, the Director of Delivery for Blackpool Transport, told the press: “Our drivers are our frontline ambassadors and they all have customer care training annually”. He also said, “of course we are not perfect, and we do take complaints very seriously and investigate them”. He added that a considerable amount of complaints had been received in regard of misunderstandings with the free travel pass scheme for Senior Citizens, which are not accepted at certain peak times in line with regulations of the concession scheme.
BTS have undoubtedly had a challenging 12 months as the tramway was transformed from an archaic system into a modern light rail operation, with the added pressures of continuing to operate its historic rolling stock for recreational purposes. Extensive road works and aforementioned events at the Tower Headland, as well as many other factors, have not helped matters and in this context the company seems to be performing extremely well. It should also be remembered that Blackpool is in a unique position, with the large amount of tourist trade meaning that staff effectively act as ambassadors for the town and frequently assist lost holidaymakers, as well as having to cope with drunken stag and hen parties using the trams and buses to travel between pubs. Hopefully the experiences of 2012 will enable the tramway to enjoy an even more succesful season in 2013 in order to silence the remaining critics.