Who Can Join TBF?

We welcome new members but, to comply with our Constitution, they must be persons who are or have been employed or engaged in a business concerned wholly or partly with the provision of public transport either within, or to, or from, any part of Great Britain. To ensure there is no doubt that the person is eligible to join, we can only accept new members who are engaged in the industry at the time they apply to join. They are normally welcome, though, to remain members when they leave the industry.

Unfortunately, it is not easy to explain in a few words who we believe to be employed or engaged in the industry. This section explains how we decide, given the complexities.

We are happy to accept as members those who work for:

  • a direct provider of public transport; or
  • an operation which is a substantial provider of services to a direct provider of public transport or in turn a substantial provider of services to that operation or further down the chain; or
  • an organisation (including an industry-wide body, a State or semi-State co-ordinator or regulator or trades union) whose purpose is not necessarily exclusively public transport but in which public transport plays a significant part.

By way of example only, we normally interpret the above to mean that staff working in the following operations are eligible to join TBF:

  • Transport for London, London Underground, Network Rail, PTE, railway engineering companies, many railway equipment manufacturers, all bus and coach operators, train and tram operating companies, passenger docks and shipping, BT Police, passenger airports and airlines, DB Schenker, GBRailfreight, Bus Users UK and trades unions representing public transport workers.

In general we do not even try to differentiate between staff based on their duties: if the company itself is substantially about public transport, then that is sufficient.

Those working for the following operations may be eligible to join TBF:

  • Security companies, providers of telephone enquiry services, dedicated power supply operations, cleaning and catering companies.
  • Private hire or home-to-school transport, but only where the majority of the operatives possess Category ā€˜Dā€™ PCV licences.

Those working for the following are probably not eligible to join TBF:

  • Companies which do not have a dedicated part of their operation facilitating the provision of public transport (including non-passenger aspects of docks, shipping and airlines and most departments of Freightliner. However, Freightliner Heavy Haul employees are eligible to join due to operating infrastructure contracts for Network Rail).
  • Those who live in Ireland, unless we can accept them on the grounds that they are involved in the provision of shipping services to Great Britain.
  • There is also the question of taxi drivers. Mainly because taxis are conveying individuals as private citizens rather than as members of the public, those providing taxi services are generally not eligible to join. There may, however, be limited exceptions where taxi operations are fully integrated in some fixed way with public transport.

Our reasons for the above are:

In order to operate a public transport service a number of things have to be in place or bought in.

The most important are:

  • vehicles
  • infrastructure (including track for railways and stations, depots, terminals, etc)
  • engineering (to maintain the vehicles and infrastructure)
  • administration (including procurement of other services)
  • marketing
  • all of these require staff, whether these are employed by the actual deliverer of the service to the public or by another organisation. They may even be self-employed.

In the provision of a bus service, for example, the bus operator generally itself employs the people who drive the buses, sell tickets and supervise operations, but some of these functions (eg, ticket selling) may be contracted out. The buses may be maintained by direct labour, but this function also may be contracted out to engineering and cleaning companies.

On the national railways, the stations and track are generally owned by Network Rail, which provides no train services to the public, but without which there can be no train service. Network Rail in turn buys-in a range of services, including the provision of trains carrying engineering materials. The company also operates some major stations.

Marketing and travel enquiries functions are often contracted out. In addition, transport operators have to buy power and water, rent offices and obtain all the other services needed to run their business.

We have to decide which of the people operating or facilitating the public transport service are covered by our Constitution. At one extreme, the person driving the bus or train is obviously eligible for membership. At the other, the person who delivers the stationery is probably not because public transport is not mainly what his job is about.

Significant parts of the businesses of DB Schenker, GBRailfreight and Freightliner Heavy Haul relate to running engineering trains which ensure there is track in place for passenger trains and we can accept members throughout these companies.

If in doubt, please do not hesitate to contact us.

"I wish I had known about the TBF, as I would have joined sooner!"
TBF member from Aberdeen