Well, I can hardly believe that it is almost two years to the day since I left uTrack having been a member of the Company since July 9th 2009. That was the momentous day when I took the decision to leave the safety and security of my job with the Diamond Bus Company and join Eamonn, Conor, Carlos, and Valdas, which back then was the whole of uTrack Software Solutions.
Back then the Company was based in an office in the world famous O’Connell Street, in the very heart of Dublin. Back then it was a Company full of vision, hope, and energy, come to think of it is exactly the same today 14 years on.
The reason why I bailed out of the safe world of buses, was really very simple. In all my years in the bus industry I had never seen technology like the cloud based software tracking that uTrack had proved could work when they started tracking 4 buses that used to carry passengers on the 147 bus service that operated under contract to Worcester County Council.
In today’s Chatbot, AI, Tesla, dominated world such technology must seem somewhat quaint almost like IT archeology, but trust me back in the day, it really was cutting edge able to deliver what had never been done before, and actually track buses in real time, an aspiration always sought but, never until that point actually achieved.
As a consequence, I genuinely felt that it had the capability to change the bus and coach sector and revolutionise the industry to the benefit of the passenger, and guess what, it did. A string of national awards followed as uTrack was deployed across some of the most iconic bus and coach groups in the world, from National Express Coach, the Company where my father had been the CEO back in the days of privatisation under Mrs Margaret Thatcher’s regime.
So, for me working with National Express had a particular resonance, especially as it was the first real customer, however, this was just the start as uTrack worked with First UK Bus, Go Ahead in Dublin, through to the iconic Greyhound Bus and First Student across the continent of North America.
After I left the Company on medical grounds, I watched with interest as it matured and grew with the establishment of the rather splendid office in Bennetts Hill right in the heart of Birmingham City Centre, which was a project that Eamonn and myself set up over 5 years ago, that finally became the great office and team that has been built today. The Dublin office has also become a well established focus for technology excellence and uTrack have recently won a major contract with the Bus Eireann funded by the NTA Ireland, I find myself returning at a very exciting time in the company’s evolution.
During the disruption of the covid pandemic when the public transport industry faced one of the most challenging periods in living history, uTrack invested in developing three new exciting products (Origin, Rygo, Unity). These new solutions have been piloted with some of our key clients over the last 18+ months with great success and now over the coming months we’ll have all our clients migrated. The user feedback has been phenomenal and with our quarterly release cycles well established our clients can expect continued innovation and features into the future.
So, I am delighted to be getting involved with uTrack, in the 3+ years that I have been away battling cancer, I can see it is a very different company with a really great energised, young, and really diverse group of very bright people now leading the company into its new orbit, it is going to be a great journey and I can’t wait to be involved. Buckle up my dear chums, new adventures to be had.
And as a member of the UK Bus Centre for Excellence advisory board, as well as the Chairman of the Bus and coach Forum of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, as well as the Chairman of Busmark, the UK’S largest Benchmarking club for the industry with 48 members and a combined fleet of 28,000 buses and coaches.
I will be at the heart of the bus and coach industries future. An industry that I was born into and which I have always had a great affection for as indeed I have for uTrack.
Onwards and upwards dear chums, as Arnie once said, I will be back, well I am, happy days.
Austin Birks FCILT.