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‘I love this job'

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‘I love this job'

Mariusz Przybylski has worked for Abellio London for the last 16 years managing schedules for the operator. Last month he was named as the winner of the Joe Wood Scheduler of the Year Award 2021 at a special ceremony held in Galway, Ireland, the home of CitySwift.

Mariusz was one of five finalists for the award which was created in tribute to rising star and former bus scheduler Joe Wood, who tragically died in 2019. The judges for this year’s competition, which included 2020 Scheduler of the Year Richard Sherratt, 2021 CPT President Jane Cole, Go North East MD Martijn Gilbert and Passenger Transport magazine deputy editor Andrew Garnett, reviewed all the entries and selected Mariusz as the winner.

What impressed them most was Mariusz's skills in tackling the many challenges presented by Covid. At Abellio London, this included implementing new schedules for the whole company of 2,500 drivers in two weeks. Mariusz and his team went on to implement over 200 schedule changes during the course of the following 18 months, which was only possible thanks to Mariusz's skill, willingness and professionalism as an experienced scheduler.

He candidly describes the challenges of the pandemic, in particular how those schedules had to be quickly and frequently changed in order to meet the demands of the prevailing headwinds of Covid. 

"We had to provide a service which was running quicker as there was no traffic on the road," he says. "It was about looking at what was happening on the road, looking at the recent data and trying to adjust the schedules to the data and the requirements."

"We had to provide a service which was running quicker as there was no traffic on the road," he says. "It was about looking at what was happening on the road, looking at the recent data and trying to adjust the schedules to the data and the requirements."

This multi-faceted approach stood Abellio London in good stead. Mariusz reviewed data from real-time information systems, actual on-road timings and driver feedback to ensure that the company's 50 routes had the most appropriate schedules in place. 

This ranged from adapting route schedules to accommodate a 10% increase in the peak vehicle requirement, to allowing extra buses to run at school times to cover social distancing requirements. This hands-on approach also allowed Abellio London to assist other operators in order to ensure full coverage for passengers.

Once travel patterns changed, Mariusz worked collaboratively with Abellio London's performance team. Using the very latest data, the team revised schedules and reduced travel times to reflect lighter traffic congestion and to ensure passengers had schedules that reflected the actual conditions out on the road. 

"Using the very latest data, the team revised schedules and reduced travel times to reflect lighter traffic congestion and to ensure passengers had schedules that reflected the actual conditions out on the road."

It's clear to see that Mariusz has enthusiasm and dedication for his job. He says he sees the work of a scheduler as support for other parts of the business - from operations to engineering - as well as playing a big role in the overall performance of the company.

 "Our role is to make things work for the business," he says. "The role of the scheduler is so important. It is crucial as we support operations, performance, and engineering. We are also a key to making the business efficient and viable. 

“Without good scheduling, any bus business would suffer. The key to success is finding the right balance between the requirements of different departments and making scheduling work for everyone.”

"The role of the scheduler is so important. Without good scheduling, any bus business would suffer."

Mariusz says he has always had an interest in public transport. His grandfather was involved in planning for the state railway in Poland and it was an area that always interested the young Mariusz. Then, after moving to the UK, he joined Abellio London as a driver in 2006 before moving into the schedules department in 2009.

"When I started working in the planning department 25 years ago back in Poland, we were using pen and paper. Now it is completely different. We can do much more work by processing a lot more data and making so many changes in such a short time. That's only possible with the new technology we now have."

"When I started working in the planning department 25 years ago back in Poland, we were using pen and paper. Now it is completely different. That's only possible with the new technology we now have."

It is clear that Mariusz is a truly professional scheduler and undertakes the role with pride and determination to deliver the very best results. Far from being desk-bound, as a fully-qualified driver, Mariusz isn’t afraid to get behind the wheel to validate his assumptions and increase his knowledge of how Abellio London’s network actually works out on the streets. 

That enthusiasm for the job extends to training the next generation of schedulers too. Abellio London has a small team of schedulers and Mariusz has trained and mentored over half of the team into professional schedulers. 

His enthusiasm for the job shines through; as he notes, “I love this job.”

“I love this job.”

And he admits he’s a little overwhelmed to have been named as winner of the 2021 Joe Wood Scheduler of the Year competition. 

“Most schedulers like to work in the background,” says Mariusz. “It means we are quite often overlooked. But winning the award means recognition for the work my team did during the pandemic and it’s been a pleasure to be rewarded for something that is my true passion. 

"But winning the award means recognition for the work my team did during the pandemic and it’s been a pleasure to be rewarded for something that is my true passion."

“I’m very lucky to have a job that I’m very passionate about.”

“I’m very lucky to have a job that I’m very passionate about.”

Watch a recording of the Scheduler of the Year Award ceremony to see Mariusz receive his award here 

Mariusz Przybylski, Scheduler of the Year

                                Mariusz (centre) with Gary Wood and Abellio London's Alastair Willis

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