This award is designed to reward schemes that encourage or promote the use of bus services in rural areas.
Buses in rural areas can:
- provide access for local residents who do not use cars
- provide increased access to the countryside for those do not use cars or wish to leave them at home
- reduce congestion and pollution in many of our scenic and tourist areas.
- minimise other environmental impacts of increasing leisure and tourist travel
This award is designed to attract entries which:
- enhance the attractiveness and use of existing services
- provide innovative service designs and marketing
- provide innovative and attractive products for visitors and tourists
- maintain or improve accessibility for people with mobility difficulties
Although many rural bus services will always require external support, nonetheless they must be shown to represent value for money and tested against alternatives. Entrants were therefore obliged include evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of their project.
Winners: Denbighshire County Council, Vale of Clwyd Project
This was a project to update, rationalise and improve bus services in the southern part of Denbighshire, introducing a regular frequency on the core inter-urban corridors and feeding from these core services with demand responsive transport into the deeper rural areas. The judges praised the comprehensive, rather than piecemeal, approach to the problems, the extent of partnership working with local operators and the research undertaken amongst existing and potential bus users. Plans for the future show a robust approach which offers hope of continued provision and growth.
Runners Up: Stagecoach South West, Go2: Establishing a desirable, sustainable and commercial bus service
In times when the public sector’s ability to fund non-commercial bus services is likely to be seriously constrained, the judges felt that this was a particularly interesting project. It involved the use of targeted partnership funds for the relaunch, improvement and development of a key inter-urban bus route which linked Exeter and Dawlish, Dawlish Warren, Teignmouth and Torquay/Newton Abbot.
Investment in new vehicles, route branding, promotional activity and a strong partnership all contributed to a successful relaunch of the route, and growth in passenger numbers of well over 25%. The judges praised the approach that delivers a bus route that attracts both tourists and residents, so maximising revenue potential to everybody’s benefit.
Hadrian's Wall Heritage, for Hadrian's Wall Country Bus Service AD122
A previous winner of UK Bus Awards on more than one occasion, the judges welcomed the continuing development and growth in this vital link across Northern England and with our historic past.
The continuing strong partnership between local authorities, English Heritage, the National Trust and local tourism bodies continues to be a copybook example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and the judges particularly liked the way what started out as a bus route has evolved into a visitor experience in its own right.
It offers a convenient and relaxing seasonal service to explore the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site, enabling visitors to access easily the major Roman sites and the ever popular Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail.
Norfolk County Council, The Norfolk Flexibus Project - Imagine?
The judges were impressed by these four projects, designed to provide demand-responsive services in rural areas at a reasonable cost and making use of the hub and spoke principle of inter-connection developed elsewhere so successfully. Patronage is approaching over 50,000 journeys a year, the services have an eye-catching livery and are run by accessible vehicles - a strong package with, hopefully, good prospects for the future
Stagecoach North West, Cumbria and Lakes Promotion
The Cumbria and Lakes Promotion is a winner all round – it helps to reduce the impact of tourism on the precious Lakeland environment, it supports a level of bus services that local residents alone could not justify, and provides revenue for Stagecoach’s all round service provision in the area.
The flagship of promotional activity is the LakesRider magazine, with a print run of 150,000 copies and world-wide mailing list. With a new leaflet range, route branded buses, saver tickets and partnerships with local attractions, patronage has increased by 20%.
Once again the judges were impressed by the stylish and informative literature and the vital contribution that the project clearly makes to life in the English Lakes.
Judges’ Overall Verdict
This was a strong field with some very good entries – though perhaps fewer in number than past years – possibly reflecting the more restricted funding regime in which rural transport is now operating. This is clearly a concern for the future, but the really good projects prove that the bus is valued and can be commercially viable in the countryside: a strong product, well delivered and cleverly promoted will still succeed – and this year’s projects prove that.
Sadly, though, some apparently worthy entries did not do themselves justice in completing their forms and addressing the criteria.
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 demonstrated how buses in the countryside improved access and have built patronage. Decisions were based on the quality of the submissions made and the extent to which they addressed the criteria.
Entry submissions were therefore required to:
- Describe the services or schemes (e.g. fares and ticketing, enhanced marketing) involved.
- 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
- Show how environmental impact was minimised
- Describe the objectives set for the initiative.
- Describe how the needs of existing and potential additional passengers with mobility difficulties were met
- 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 marketing campaigns before, during and after the initiative
- State whether any 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.
Nominees were asked to address each of the above criteria to assist with the judging process.