The Award for operators running services wholly or mainly in our major cities.
The Winner: Lothian Buses
Substantial and consistent investment over many years has underpinned Lothian’s position as one of the UK’s most admired bus operators. The company has continued to build on that record with a fleet that grows increasingly ‘green’ and is arguably the most accessible in the country.
Bus passengers in Edinburgh continue to enjoy levels of reliability and value for money that are among the very best and the judges noted the measures being taken by the company to overcome the problems caused by renewed tram works in the centre of the city.
Presentation was excellent as ever, and a return to increased passenger numbers led to higher turnover and a significantly better profit margin. The company’s commitment to social media methods of communication with its customers, the use made of the ‘Bustracker’ real-time information system, and a number of environmental and marketing initiatives particularly impressed the judges.
Runner Up: Nottingham City Transport
This has been another year of major progress for this quality operator in Britain’s least car-dependent city. Despite the sadness of losing the tram franchise, £1.5million has been invested in the bus network with thirty-five extra drivers and eleven extra buses employed to increase frequencies on fourteen routes.
Capital investment continued with fifty-six new buses. Staff turnover and sickness reaching record low levels, complaints reducing by 40%, patronage increasing by 2.7%, revenue up 3.7% and customer satisfaction higher by 8%, also impressed the judges.
With its investment in staff and training as well as comprehensive marketing with strong branding, and first class levels of reliability and punctuality, Nottingham is another excellent example of strong partnership with the local authority and other stakeholders delivering real benefits.
Arriva Merseyside employs around 2,000 people operating out of six garages covering Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, Sefton and St Helens. Carrying over 54 million passengers per year with 635 vehicles, the company is focused on people – both customers and staff – and provides a top class service for the city of Liverpool and surrounding areas.
Building on the company’s success with Birkenhead winning the Top National Depot in 2010, the judges were impressed with how Arriva Merseyside has transformed itself in recent years to place the company, its staff and the bus service at the heart of the community, demonstrated by its marketing, environmental and other initiatives, and not least by all of its depots having attained Investors in People status.
One of the largest operators outside London and another that has transformed itself in recent years, Stagecoach Manchester now has an outstanding record of delivering an exceptional service to customers whilst operating in a busy 24-hour city that demands nothing but a high quality service.
The judges were again impressed by the major investment in vehicles (including a fleet of hybrid buses) and environmental initiatives, as well as commercial schemes such as successfully segmenting the market and the very popular Unirider ticket, supported by clever marketing.
These together with the high standard of presentation and, for a major city, exceptional levels of reliability and punctuality, against a difficult economic background enabled the company to deliver passenger growth, increased turnover and a significantly higher profit margin.
Judges' Overall Verdict
This year's competition attracted another quality group of entries, although, as always, it would be good if more city operators could be nominated. The strength of the competion provided a further demonstration of how the quality of bus operation has improved in recent years, this time in the major cities (including those with PTEs) rather than the shires.
The margin between the winner and runner-up was very close indeed.
Once more, the successful entrants saw a strong emphasis on partnership, with the leading operators enjoying a close relationship with their PTE or local authority. There was also strong commitment to health and safety, risk assessment, and the environment.
Who could be nominated?
This Award is open to operators of registered local bus services based in, or operating wholly or mainly in:
- The PTE areas:
- Greater Manchester
- Tyne and Wear
- South Yorkshire
- West Yorkshire
- West Midlands
- Greater London
- Other major cities with populations of over 250,000, with density greater than 15,000 per hectare. These are:
- Brighton & Hove
… and by whom?
We welcome nominations from customers, local authorities, user groups or bus operators. Self-nomination is acceptable.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
The short-list will be determined on the basis of the quality of the submissions, which need to:
- Show how the operator maintains and improves customer relations. For example how it uses:
- customer satisfaction surveys
- suggestion and complaint handling procedures
- customer newsletters
- State whether it has policies for specific customer groups, for example recognising disability and diversity
- Submit evidence on matters such as any partnership working, describe how the company responds to the policies of its transport authority and how it fosters and contributes to the life of the communities it serves.
- Show how the operator contributes to sustaining and expanding the market for public transport in their area, including joint working with authorities and integration schemes. This should be supported by statistics to confirm patronage and revenue trends and statistical evidence of modal shift.
- Provide statistics on timekeeping and lost mileage
- Provide evidence of the company’s employee relations policies, including:
- equal opportunities
- employee development programmes.
- State whether or not the company resolved any issues by reference to the Bus Appeals Body within the last three years prior to entry. If so, the issues and the outcome need to be described
- State whether or not there has been any Traffic Commissioners’ action in the three years prior to entry. If so, describe the company’s responses
- Provide information to demonstrate the financial sustainability of their activities. This could come, for example, from the most recent audited accounts for the two years prior to nomination and include:
- Capital investment: amount per £1,000 turnover; changes in fleet age profile
- Commercial performance: % operating profit margin
- Movement in reserves.
- Demonstrate the company’s approach to risk assessment in all its activities including:
- a commentary on Health and Safety issues for the past year, supported by reports on any significant incidents,
- showing how the company assesses the impact of its activities on staff, passengers and the general public and has monitoring and control measures to reduce risk and the level of the residual risks.
- Describe the operator’s approach to environmental matters and social responsibility.
- Describe the operator’s approach to improving or promoting the accessibility of their product for people with mobility difficulties
Entries should address each of the above criteria to assist with the judging process.
Shortlisted entries will be assessed by “mystery travellers” to monitor the standard of service delivery.