Winners: Reading Buses
Jet Black is the New Black
The maintenance and development of the link between Reading and Newbury has always been a key part of the Reading Buses strategy. A revamp of the old Vitality rural branding was needed to freshen up a corridor that had become dull and was losing passengers. By bringing the buses into line with Reading's new branding, Jet Black was born, and ridership has increased one more.
The judges praised this initiative as representing a genuinely different approach to turning round a loss-making service, including the use of a lower-cost sub-contractor. They were impressed by the truly innovative approach, the development of a well-structured plan and the clear vision of how the project could develop.
Runners Up: Ensign Bus Company & First Essex Buses
Ensign Bus and First Essex Buses are jointly nominated for the CollegeBUS scheme that runs between the Thurrock-based colleges and outlying areas throughout Essex. This green initiative not only allows students an economically viable and flexible way to travel but also actively encourages bus use for all their work and social journeys in the area – replacing a diverse and inflexible network of bespoke services with a flexible ticket to use existing bus services that already provide the required links for more than 80% of students, more cheaply and more frequently.
A number of features of this project attracted praise from the judges – in particular the partnership between the operators and with the colleges; and the fact that it was aimed squarely at improving services for a key group of existing and future users, at the same time providing improved all-day services for all users. There is genuine scope for similar approaches to be adopted in other areas.
Arriva Yorkshire - We are Yorkshire
The 'We are Yorkshire' initiative is a campaign which aimed to raise awareness of the scale of investment into local bus services and underline what this means for both the community and regional commerce. It did this using high profile PR and by engaging customers and the wider community in the creation of the campaign, which included the simultaneous launch of 43 new buses on the company's network.
This was the latest in a series of highly innovative and clever PR and marketing projects undertaken by the company in recent years. The judges were once again impressed by the innovative thinking and hard work which had gone into the campaign, and the positive reaction generated.
Bluestar - The Smarter Way to Pay: The Key
The ‘Key’ smartcard is part of Go Ahead Group’s national initiative to introduce smart ticketing to its rail services and entire UK bus operation. Bluestar's message was that their method of collecting bus fares was old, outdated and not always reliable, and the time had come for smart online ticketing. Promoting the card as “the key to unlocking your travel in and around Southampton”, the campaign began in February 2012. A strong marketing campaign was planned and developed, using a wide range of techniques including 'teaser' posters, launch events, social media, print and sponsorship. As a result over 2,500 cards are now in circulation and regularly topped up via the internet.
The judges were impressed by the range of techniques used in the launch and continuing promotion of this exciting smartcard development.
Go North East - Maximising the Benefits of Social Networking
Go North East has developed one of the most sophisticated social media outputs of any regional bus company in the UK. Use of social media is genuinely integrated with the company’s customer communications from its customer services team as part of a genuine multi-channel offering. Positive customer feedback on this effective use of social media is commonplace. Our desire to continue to grow and improve the social media experience for our customers continues and is included in the company’s marketing plans for 2012/13.
Social media continues to offer huge opportunities for the industry, but also huge challenges, and the judges were impressed by Go North East's approach, both to the promotion and delivery of the messages but also the management of the scheme.
Translink - Metro Smart Saturdays
Translink, Northern Ireland's public transport company, employed a discounting strategy when launching the 'Metro Smart Saturdays' campaign in 2011 to increase patronage on its Metro Belfast services. The campaign ran for two periods in 2011 and again in May 2012. The most recent promotion offers passengers and visitors to Belfast all day unlimited travel for £2, as Belfast celebrates its Titanic year. The campaigns have increased Saturday patronage on the network by almost 9%.
The judges liked this tightly focused and successful campaign to promote bus use at off-peak times, which offers both the prospect of attracting existing users to make more journeys and the possibility of achieving modal shift from enticing new users to try the services.
Who can be nominated?
This category is open to operators, authorities, other organisations or partnerships participating in the securing, marketing or promotion of registered local bus services.
… and by whom?
We welcome nominations from customers, authorities, user groups or bus operators. Self-nomination is acceptable.
The Criteria and Entry Requirements
A successful nomination for this Award would need to demonstrate development of an original or novel idea which breaks new ground in promoting the bus.
Entries should therefore:
- Provide evidence of the market research, methodology and results, carried out prior to the initiative.
- Describe how the initiative was planned and how the targets were set for it
- Describe their work in the project to improve or promote the accessibility of their product for people with mobility difficulties
- State how the initiative was executed, showing methods used and why, how demand was stimulated and customer access to the product improved and how potential customers were identified and informed
- Describe how the impact of the initiative was monitored and measured
- Describe any changes to the initiative 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, especially modal shift achieved
- State whether the results are likely to be sustainable
- Describe any future plans for further development
- Include any relevant supporting material
- Supply appropriate examples of the initiative’s materials that delivered the reported results.
Entries should address each of the above criteria to assist with the judging process.