Making Buses a Better Choice

The Peter Huntley Memorial Award

Peter #Huntley, who helped to found the UK Bus AwardsPeter Huntley had a long career in public transport, working in transport co-ordination for local authorities, as a consultant at The TAS Partnership, as a journalist and writer, and as an inspirational managing director of a bus company, Go North East, between 2006 and 2011. He was tragically killed in a climbing accident in February 2012 at the age of 55.

Peter helped to found the UK Bus Awards in 1995 and we have dedicated this award in his memory as the category that best represents the breadth of his interests and his passion for excellence.

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About the Award

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. 

The judges will be 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.

The Winner

The bus route design for motorists - TrentBarton's Rapid 1Trent Barton, Rapid 1 - the Car User's Choice

Rapid 1 was built from start to finish based on market research, using highly specified buses to attract more passengers, either through additional trip generation or modal shift. Strongly branded and well delivered by a dedicated, customer-focused team, it has proved a hit with its customers of which a highly impressive 32% are former car users.

The judges considered this to be a superb initiative to take an already very successful service coming to the end of its Rainbow 1 brand life cycle to an ever higher level of attractiveness to existing and, more importantly, potential passengers. The whole process and resulting product is a model of how such an exercise to upgrade and improve a service should be undertaken as the results since the re-launch show. It provides a template that can and should be followed by bus companies throughout the land. As one judge said, just what would be expected from TrentBarton!

Runner Up

Modern media interfaces for NCTNottingham City Transport, Social Media and Technology

Social media is inextricably linked to modern life, with 77% of the population regularly using it. The cultural expectation of instant news and information has been embraced by Nottingham City Transport, which keeps customers informed 24/7 about their bus services through a free smartphone app, Facebook, Twitter and its website.

Having the largest number of active followers of any regional bus operator, NCT leads the way with social media. If young people are to be attracted to bus travel and make it a key element of their lifestyle, it is important that companies relate to that target market which is the greatest user of such modern means of communication. The judges felt that Nottingham City Transport’s proactive attitude towards the use of social media, and the way that they are exploiting its use, is exactly the direction in which bus companies should be going. Nottingham’s model is one that should be followed by the wider industry.

Highly Commended

One of the services in the Greater Bristol Bus NetworkFirst Bristol and Partners, Greater Bristol Bus Network

The West of England Councils - Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol City, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire – worked with FirstGroup to deliver a four year scheme improving ten bus route corridors. The Greater Bristol Bus Network (GBBN) has been designed to deliver substantial improvements to the speed, quality, reliability and attractiveness of bus services on the corridors, which link Bristol, Bath and Weston-super-Mare with other key towns and villages.

Better bus stops, more bus lanes and new interchanges have been created, traffic signals have been improved, a network-wide real time information system rolled out and 120 new, low floor, easy access, low emission buses brought into service. The judges felt that this partnership of public and private sector shows just what can be achieved with strong commitment from all parties, and is a model that has potential for much wider application in the UK. The dissatisfaction with public transport in the Bristol area over many years due to the very difficult operating territory means that inevitably it will take time to change perceptions, but this should not detract from what has been achieved and its potential for the future, providing the existing commitment is maintained.

Part of the Eclipse fleet for HampshireFirst Hampshire & Dorset with Hampshire County Council, Eclipse

Since its launch in April 2012, the Eclipse Bus Rapid Transit network has been going from strength to strength. It offers users a high quality public transport experience, providing a fast, reliable link between Gosport and Fareham, avoiding the congested A32 by use of a dedicated busway. High quality vehicles combine with high quality roadside infrastructure to provide a genuine step change in the travel experience. Customers like what they see, and passenger numbers are up, proving that when it comes to travel between Gosport and Fareham, buses really are the better choice.

A project designed to encourage modal shift from a road notorious for its traffic delays over many years, the judges were impressed with the bus ridership gains in a very short time, reducing congestion and improving the environment in this densely-populated area, and showing what BRT is capable of. As another impressive public/private partnership, the real potential of the scheme to substantially affect modal split and increase bus use over a wider area will come when the planned future stages of the project are funded and implemented.

The Key ITSO Smartcard in actionGo Ahead Group, The Key ITSO Smartcard

The Key smartcard is a transformational ticketing project which has made bus travel simpler. Go-Ahead has introduced a number of new products which better meet customers’ changing needs and make them easier and cheaper to purchase and use. The Key speeds up boarding times and has also helped to meet the DfT’s objective of a comprehensive, interoperable smart ticketing system across the country.

Whilst smartcards are increasingly part and parcel of the offering of many bus companies, the judges were enthused not only by what had been achieved so far following extensive market and ergonomic research, but also by the potential of The Key and especially the plans to take the product into areas affecting the wider lifestyle of bus passengers, emulating the initiatives of leading companies in the wider retail sector.

 

The Busway in actionStagecoach East, The Busway

The long-awaited opening of the world’s longest guided busway in has provided Stagecoach East with the opportunity to raise the profile of bus travel in Cambridgeshire. Gold standard buses with air conditioning, leather seats and wi-fi – running on bio fuel – take advantage of the unique benefits of the Busway. Success exceeds expectations and the growth goes on and on…. Since the opening of the Busway in August 2011, passenger numbers on the same corridor have doubled compared to the pre-Busway service - that is of course on top of the 30% growth achieved by the high profile buses before they actually took to the Busway.

The judges felt that the way passenger numbers had increased substantially above and beyond the initial projections has shown just what a well-delivered BRT scheme, using high quality buses, well-trained drivers, and achieving the highest levels of reliability and punctuality, can achieve. The problematic delivery of the project should not detract from what it is achieving now it is in operation – the results show it has been well worth the wait!

Who could be nominated?

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

… and by whom?

Nominations were accepted from all eligible organisations and self-nomination was acceptable.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

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

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

Entry submissions were therefore required to:

  • 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:State whether any subsequent changes were made as a result of the monitoring
    • the progress made towards meeting the objectives
    • overall patronage
    • the impact of promotional campaigns before, during and after the initiative
  • 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.

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