Page 4: Social and technological factors
Social changes may have a major impact on business:
- The number of older people in the UK is rising. There are more people with bus passes in this country than ever before. The passes mean that users travel free, as the local authority pays First for providing the service. Many elderly people prefer to travel by bus because it is convenient and safe.
- Society's habits and tastes are changing. People are more aware of the importance of the environment and becoming 'green consumers'. Green consumers prefer goods and services that are 'environmentally-friendly' and which have less impact on the environment. The green consumer, for example, prefers to travel by bus or train than by air or in a large car.
- People are now more mobile and travel more.
Statistics produced by the Department for Transport in 2007 pick out some of the major trends. These statistics show a positive picture for First. The market is growing and more people are realising the benefits of a more environmentally-friendly form of transport.
Businesses are continually developing new technologies to provide the best solutions for the market place. Intelligent companies find out what the most appropriate technologies are for their businesses and use them. This is particularly true in transport.
A good example of this is in the provision of buses that lower the floor for easy entry. These provide better accessibility for disabled and elderly people. First has invested heavily to meet government targets for the provision of low-floor buses.
In 2006 First introduced ftr this is text shorthand for 'Future'. These are state-of-the-art articulated vehicles that look like trams but have the flexibility of a bus and use normal roads. First has set up schemes using these vehicles in partnership with local authorities. First provides the bus service and the local authority the infrastructure, such as new road layouts and bus shelters. Ftr vehicles are capable of carrying more people per journey, so fewer bus journeys are necessary. They are also more popular with customers resulting in fewer car journeys. This reduces the amount of fuel used, reduces CO2 emissions and means less impact on the environment.
In FirstGroup's rail division, First ScotRail has set up ground-breaking alerting services for passengers, JourneyCheck and JourneyAlert. These enable passengers to receive up-to-date train information by text or email. These services provide a convenient way of letting people know if there are delays or alterations to train times so they can plan their journeys accordingly.
Other technological solutions include the use of prepaid Smart cards to make payment on buses easier and faster.