06 Jul 2022
Growing up with Stagecoach. Steve Thorpe celebrates 30 year career with the company.
In July 1992, at the age of just 16, Steve Thorpe joined Stagecoach South’s Basingstoke depot shortly after leaving Cranbourne Secondary School in the town.
Prior to being appointed, Steve had undertaken work experience with the Basingstoke team, and his enthusiasm and knowledge of the business caught the eye of depot manager John Chadwick, and as such a career in the bus industry was offered.
Steve said “We didn’t have a family car, so we had to use the bus for school, shopping and leisure. As such I got quite accustomed to the Basingstoke network from an early age. I enjoyed my work experience and was delighted when John offered me a trainee role”
“Hampshire Bus was the first bus operator outside of Scotland that Stagecoach purchased, so I have followed the Stagecoach story from an early age. I have always admired Stagecoach’s innovation and am so proud to have played a part in the continued development of the business, particularly here in the South.”
With almost no time to spare, Steve was helping in researching Alder Valleys remaining network across the Blackwater Valley and South Surrey, before Stagecoach purchased the operation and Steve assisted with the smooth transition of the operations, vehicles and staff to Stagecoach ownership.
Another early career project, Steve co-managed the introduction of the Wayfarer 3 ticket machines across the Hampshire depots of Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester. These were the first fares look-up system for the Hampshire Bus division and the project involved setting up fares, ticket machine configuration, staff training and eventually, implementation. Steve transferred to Winchester depot in 1993 in order to work with the wider team to deliver this project.
After a family move to Portsmouth an opportunity arose to join the Commercial team in Chichester as Commercial Assistant. This allowed Steve to continue his route planning and scheduling training for the coastal depots of Portsmouth, Chichester and Worthing.
In 1996, Steve was successful in gaining his PCV licence qualification. This provided a long awaited opportunity to get behind the wheel and drive the bus routes that he had been planning and scheduling. Even today, Steve still enjoys getting out and about on the Stagecoach South network. More recently he has enjoyed assisting Guildford with the delivery of the expanded network.
With a desire to creating customer and staff communications, and showing an early interest in how the world-wide-web was moving fast in becoming an important information source, an opportunity for Steve to transfer into Marketing came about in 2002.
“I always had a creative flare and had previously worked on some branding projects for Worthing and Portsmouth when the low floor buses were first introduced. I also enjoyed creating leaflets and booklets to promote our network and the destinations they served. So it was a natural progression really.”
More branding projects were to come for Steve when the ‘beach ball’ livery was introduced in 2002 and all new buses were branded accordingly for the routes they were introduced on.
One of Steve’s biggest projects was the launch of the Pulse route in 2006, and a supporting marketing campaign. This followed a network review which resulted in a brand new route, named the Pulse being launched, connecting West Durrington and Lancing, via Worthing town centre, as well as serving the hospital.
The project worked in collaboration with West Sussex County Council’s Quality Bus Partnership Scheme and a government ‘kickstart’ initiative.
Another of Steve’s career highlights was being awarded the marketing campaign of the Year award in 2007 for the flagship route Coastliner 700.
In November 2015 Steve took on the role of acting Marketing Manager for Stagecoach in South Wales, on a 8 month secondment to Porth Depot. This enabled him to gain valuable experience from a broader marketing perspective, as well as allowing him to make lots of new friends!
Most recently, within his current role, he developed a Jubilee bus livery which was subsequently used across the wider Stagecoach Group, as well as being converted into a miniature scale model. Steve even received a Star of the Month reward for his hard work in crafting the design. The vehicles featuring the livery gathered a lot of attention locally and across the wider bus industry for having a harmonious design, celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, whilst keeping the distinctive Stagecoach branding.