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Change by choice

30th December 1966
Page 15
Page 15, 30th December 1966 — Change by choice
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

NEW YEAR resolutions conjuring up vistas of change for the better just around the corner are fine—in theory. In practice repetition and efficiency have a habit—irritating to some—of going hand in hand. Particularly does this apply to many of the vital services maintained day in, day out, by the road transport industry.

Repetition, when it spells out certainty of delivery on time, is a quality of service transport users appreciate and reward by continuous support of the operators who provide it. That fact alone has contributed much to the success story of road transport in this century.

But repetition, and paradoxically successful repetition, can also spell out potential danger. It can inculcate a mode of thought which, with apparent logic, asks: why change a transport service if it is working satisfactorily? The rhetorical answer may be right in the short term. But change, whether almost immceptibly or in a recognizable sense, must surely be inherent in a service so flexible as road transport. Refusal to recognize the need for change can lead to extinction or—given a bottomless public purse—a railway reshaping policy 50 years too late!

Despite the publicity given to the railway reshaping report, the acid tests of managerial foresight is not in deciding what to do when change is reluctantly forced upon one by events; it is in anticipating the higher level of service customers will soon be demanding and assessing the merits of current technological advances likely to provide just such an improvement.

No one year has a monopoly of such advances. But 1967 could well have more than usual. Both in goods and passenger transport the political argument continues as to the best way of effecting improvements in the national transport system. But in the end the practicalities of day-to-day transport operation ultimately, as so often in the past, must be the determining factor.

Appropriate to a service industry, the speed and extent of change in road transport will be determined by the ever-increasing tempo and sophistication of the trade and industry which it serves. More than ever the demands will be for the elimination of expensive packing and handling by movement in bulk, often under controlled conditions. Parallel to these technical advances the establishment and subsequent development of the Road Transport Industry Training Board should ensure that the calibre of staff matches the technological advances.

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