Making Buses a Better Choice

This Award is designed to recognise and reward initiatives, projects or innovations which add value to or otherwise improve the attractiveness of bus services to both users and non-users.  This category replaced the Infrastructure Award and the Bus in the Countryside award in 2011.

The judges were looking for a scheme, project or partnership that achieved one or more of the following:

  • improved the provision of an existing bus service
  • improved passenger facilities on an existing bus service
  • provided a genuinely innovative new service
  • improved services through new infrastructure or facilities giving faster and/or more reliable journeys.

Winner: Route 36 - Ideas in Action

The team with the 'Ideas in Action' demonstration busTransdev Blazefield

Transdev Blazefield took an existing bus from its prestigious and award-winning Route 36 between Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds and fitted it with many new and innovative ideas and features. Then, by an extensive consultation process, it gave customers a unique opportunity to comment and thus help to decide on the design of their next generation of buses.

The judges felt that the design work and consultation process undertaken by Blazefield could act as a very worthwhile model for the industry to follow: involving the users in helping to specify the product is both pragmatic and sensible.

The judges were very impressed with the project and in particular the attention to detail. Such refurbishment initiatives can be well worthwhile where the current economic climate or the commercial performance of a route or network precludes the purchase of new vehicles.

Runner Up: The team delivering Heathrow's projects to boost public transport use Free Travel Zone

Heathrow Airport

The Heathrow Free Travel Zone is unique in the United Kingdom: it is a key component of the airport’s policy to increase use of public transport and other sustainable modes by airport staff and air passengers. Heathrow employs over 76,000 staff and the zone has been a major factor in increasing the modal share of the bus in the overall travel market from 6% in 1996 to 18% in 2010.

Whilst obviously not a model that has universal applicability, the judges were impressed by the very clear objectives set originally and how the extremely ambitious targets for modal shift had been achieved despite a 40% increase in the number of staff employed at the airport during the fifteen year plan period. The success in increasing public transport use at Heathrow just goes to show what the bus is capable of given the right set of conditions and the necessary support.

Highly Commended

Swansea's spacious new Bus StationCity & County of Swansea - Swansea Bus Station

With the city’s status as the gateway to south-west Wales, its bus station is the regional hub for local and inter-urban bus services as well as long distance coach services. The renovation of Swansea Bus Station signals the completion of a whole package of transport improvements first planned at the turn of the century.

The complementary elements of ftr metro, bus priority, park and ride, and the new Bus Station with its substantial improvements in facilities for bus passengers provide an excellent foundation on which to deliver a sustainable transport agenda, and ongoing growth in ridership and modal shift from the car.


Metro (West Yorkshire PTE) - Smaller Bus Stations Programme

Pudsey's new bus station, one of several delivered by this project

Metro has implemented a programme of re-building and upgrading smaller bus stations across West Yorkshire.  The programme was completed with the opening of a new bus station in Pudsey in November 2010 and was informed by Metro's research into the attributes valued by passengers including interchange, information and safety/security.  An increase in usage has resulted from the programme.




National Express and partners - Safer Travel Partnership

One of the coving panels used in the campaign

Since 1999, National Express West Midlands, and their partners Centro and West Midlands Police, have led, co-ordinated and directed the innovative Safer Travel Partnership. This covers the areas of seven local authorities, with tens of thousands of school children and local community groups.

Safer Travel has achieved considerable success in deterring and detecting bus crime and anti-social behaviour, and the judges felt that, as well as being an example of very successful partnership, it has made a considerable contribution to creating a positive perception of bus travel amongst those who might be deterred from using it for fear of personal safety and security.

North Somerset Coaches - Nailsea and Blackwell Local Bus

Passengers who chose the bus in North Somerset

The friendly local bus company that wasn’t afraid to try something new! In 2008, North Somerset Coaches took the brave step of introducing a commercial local bus service in its small home town of Nailsea. This has grown to become an established lifeline for many residents and continues to flourish.

The judges were impressed by the imaginative ideas that went into developing the service like a book club, carol singing, vintage bus charity days and many others, all of which are reflected in the loyalty shown by passengers and their staunch support when the service has been under threat. The company has shown that, with the right effort and support, commercial services in such small towns can be made to work.

Reading Buses - Taking Premier Routes to the Next Level

Reading's eye-catching Jet Black livery

Reading Buses’ clean, modern, accessible fleet and its dedicated colour-coded Premier Routes branding, coupled with complementary traffic management measures provided by its local authority partners and latterly investment in hybrid technology, have already attracted extra passengers and modal shift from car use as well as reducing costs and emissions. That success has led to the network of Premier Routes being extended to include, following consultation, ideas from passengers for service improvements and new features on its buses.

The judges felt that Reading’s initiatives were a model for the industry in upgrading and branding services, and refreshing them when individual routes were beginning to see a lifecycle decline.

Stagecoach Bluebird - Jet 727

The launch of the 727 to Aberdeen Airport

The Jet 727 service began in August 2010, offering fast and frequent journeys between Aberdeen city centre and Aberdeen Airport.

The outstanding customer growth for the Jet 727 service demonstrates that a successful formula of  research and analysis with an effective marketing campaign and quality service delivery is key in establishing a new route with potential customers. In conjunction with effective public and private sector partnership the route has developed passenger use to a sustainable level and one which continues to increase.


Judges' Overall Verdict

There was a very pleasing number of entries for this new category, and the judges were also impressed with the quality of a number of them. As a result, there were some robust discussions before the judges reached agreement on a shortlist, and the choice of a winner and runner-up was equally difficult.

The judges were extremely impressed with the variety of schemes submitted in response to the quite wide criteria even if one or two might have done better in other categories, e.g. marketing. This variety added to the difficulty in making decisions but is not a reason for changing the award – the variety has strengthened this category. There was disappointment at the absence of good bus priority schemes and that, in some cases, for relatively little extra cost the initiatives could have been so much better, although this was felt possibly to be a sign of the difficult financial and political times.

A very good first year for this new award!

Who can be nominated?

Entries will be welcomed from operators, authorities and others specifying and securing services, partnerships and tourist agencies.

… and by whom?

Nominations will be accepted from all eligible organisations and self-nomination is acceptable.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

The judges will be looking for entries which add value to, or otherwise improve, bus services by making them faster, more efficient, offer improved passenger facilities or able to provide a better service. Decisions will be based on the quality of the submissions made and the extent to which they address the criteria.

Note that where schemes have equal or equivalent merit, the final determinants will be the nature and extent of improvements for customers and the degree of priority accorded to buses.

Entry submissions should therefore:

  • Describe the services or schemes involved.
  • Describe the objectives set for the initiative.
  • Describe how the needs of existing and potential additional passengers, including those with mobility difficulties, were met
  • Describe any environmental benefits and show how any environmental impacts were minimised
  • State whether a partnership was involved. This may include service specification and financing and any interested bodies, including local authorities, local bus operators and other commercial organisations or user, leisure and tourist representative groups
  • Describe how:
    • needs and potential needs were assessed, including details of market evaluation and customer research
    • potential customers were informed of the improved or new product(s)
    • interest in, or desire for, the product(s) was assessed
    • customers’ access to the product(s) was facilitated.
  • Indicate the methods used to measure:
    • the progress made towards meeting the objectives
    • overall patronage
    • the impact of promotional campaigns before, during and after the initiative
  • State whether any subsequent changes were made as a result of the monitoring
  • Supply statistical evidence showing the results of the initiative in terms of patronage, revenue or other appropriate indicators and modal shift.
  • State whether the results are likely to be sustainable
  • Describe any future plans for further development
  • Include any relevant supporting material.

Entries should address each of the above criteria to assist with the judging process.

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