Tobyn Hughes appointed as Transport Operations Director for the North East

The North East Combined Authority has announced the appointment of its first Managing Director for Transport Operations, to deliver high quality, integrated public transport services across the region.

Tobyn Hughes, previously Deputy Director General of Nexus, will take on the new role responsible for integrating public transport delivery for the Combined Authority area of 2 million people.

In order to ensure that public transport is integrated across the whole area, the role incorporates the responsibilities of the Director General of Nexus, alongside new responsibilities to develop public transport integration between Tyne & Wear, Northumberland and Durham.

Commenting on Tobyn’s appointment, Cllr Nick Forbes, who leads for transport on behalf of the Combined Authority said “This appointment demonstrates our commitment to delivering better public transport for people who live, work, study and visit in the north east.  Public transport is the lifeblood of our economy, serves a vital social purpose, and is critical for our environment.  I am pleased to welcome Tobyn Hughes to a vital new role serving the public, and taking forward our ambitions for a world-class public transport system, serving urban and rural communities across the region”.

Tobyn, of Hexham, Northumberland, will succeed Bernard Garner, who will be retiring from the post of Director General of Nexus (the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive) at the end of this year, as well as taking on additional responsibilities.

The immediate focus is on delivering existing services within the Tyne & Wear areas.  But with the introduction of a Combined Authority which also covers the counties of Northumberland and Durham, the role will also lead the integration of public transport services to better connect urban and rural communities across the wider area.  Priorities include:

  • Delivering services on the UK’s largest light rail system outside London, the Tyne & Wear Metro, and developing proposals for investment and extensions of metro services.
  • Delivering a new approach to bus services, by taking forward the Combined Authorities proposals for Quality Contracts.
  • Delivering new technology, such as wireless internet on the metro, smart ticketing and real-time service information.

Cllr Simon Henig, chair of the North East Combined Authority said “Tobyn’s appointment represents an important milestone in our ambitions to create a Combined Authority that delivers a stronger economy and better services for people across the North East.  By working together across urban and rural areas, we can join-up services, reflect the travel-to-work patterns of commuters, and deliver a world-class public transport network here in the north east.”

Pat Ritchie, lead Chief Executive for transport for the North East Combined Authority, said “Tobyn brings a wealth of experience and a track-record of project delivery, but more importantly a commitment to public service, putting the travelling public at the front and centre.  The seven councils look forward to working with him in this new role, to drive forward improvements to services, our ambition for more and better jobs, and our commitment to residents of the north east.

“I would also like to pay tribute to Bernard Garner who has done a tremendous job over the last eight years as Director General and over 30 years in public transport in the North East.”

A Newcastle University graduate, Tobyn Hughes brings 20 years’ experience working in air, bus and rail transport.   He joined Nexus in 2007 from a senior post in British Airways.  Since 2013 he has been Deputy Director General, responsible for 500 staff, an operational budget of £170 million and a £40 million capital programme.

He has led the introduction of Pop card smart ticketing to the Tyne and Wear Metro, and supported the North East Combined Authority in its decision to become the first transport authority in the country to propose a Quality Contracts Scheme to sustain and improve bus services.

Commenting on his appointment Tobyn said: “I am delighted to be given the chance to lead the delivery and development of the North East Combined Authority’s transport services.  I look forward to working with the Neca’s member authorities to develop a blueprint for transport that will play an important role in growing the local economy over the years ahead.”