WHEN He may not be asked - at last year's meeting, most of the questions were about the local bus routes.
This time, US hedge fund
In an exclusive interview on a flying visit to
That turn in the road will feel overdue for the man who was handed the keys when
"No, obviously not. First of all, the recovery plans always assumed the economy would recover a little bit faster than it did. I don't think there was an appreciation when I came in of the fragility of the bus business, which only revealed itself a couple of months into my tenure when they put in a price increase and didn't get any yield."
In other words, the model of ageing buses and constantly rising fares in the later stages of the Lockhead era had run out of road, and there was no quick fix. But meanwhile, the US business on which
Turning round Greyhound, the iconic coach business, has also taken longer than expected, with
Finally, the rail business, which by 2012 had become the group's sole hope of short-term growth, found itself ambushed by Sir
Asked to comment on the tycoon's influence,
But he added: "Given the opportunity, we would put the same bid in again. We did not put that in because we thought that was what we had to do to win: we thought we could deliver, and nobody has seen the bid, they don't know how we were going to do that."
Asked about the relaunched process, which has seen
Despite the much-trumpeted success of the publicly-owned
But on mutterings in the City that
He added: "Shareholders only want us to win bids on sensible terms...
"We are putting in new buses, which obviously lowers maintenance expenses, gives you a product more attractive to the public, and gives them and employees confid-ence you are in it for the long- run. We are cutting an awful lot of fares and that formula has produced growth in fare-paying passengers for the first time in 10 years."
The Stateside battles were also being slowly won,
"It has been more of a challenge than I anticipated, but great people, great challenges. It requires more work, but what we are doing is so important because we are affecting the lives of millions of people every single day."
He may not be asked - at last year's meeting, most of the questions were about the local bus routes.