Top Express Operation

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The Award for the operation of high quality express coach services.

Scheduled express coach services are an integral part of our transport system, alongside local bus services and the rail network. Services to airports, tourist attractions and for less-affluent people, including students, for example, can act to improve sustainable accessibility and reduce car travel in the same way as other forms of public transport.

The growth of competition in the market, together with the continued development of brands such as Green Line, Scottish Citylink, Megabus and National Express, shows that the express service sector is dynamic and plays an important part. The award is open to operators of services on their own account or who contract to others (e.g. National Express or Scottish Citylink).

The winner of the Express Coach Operation of the Year award will demonstrate delivery of consistently excellent customer service; the company will be sound financially, maintaining high operational and engineering standards, giving priority to the health and safety of passengers and staff through comprehensive risk management.

The Express Coach Operation of the Year demonstrates investment in fleet and operating staff, forms effective partnerships, identifies with and responds to the markets it serves and, through its quality of operation, continually strives to sustain and grow its market.

2013 Winners: Travel De Courcey – National Express Operation

Lined up at Wembley: a Travel de Courcey coach in National Express special coloursTravel de Courcey is a local, family-owned business that places high values on customer service and the professional integrity of its staff. At first sight its relationship with National Express looks like a David and Goliath scenario, yet the company has more than proved itself, to the extent that it is now contracted to operate well over 4 million miles for National Express annually. Not only are high profile routes operated, but Travel de Courcey vehicles are frequently selected by National Express to represent the company in high-profile public relations events.

Runner Up: Stagecoach East Scotland – Express City Connect

Express travel across the Firth of Forth with StagecoachThe Express City Connect network of services operating across Fife and into Edinburgh and Glasgow using the Ferrytoll Park-and-Ride Interchange provide a high standard of service for both commuters and other travellers, with leather seats and free wi-fi, making public transport an attractive alternative to the car, thus relieving congestion and achieving modal shift. Continued strong investment in high-specification coaches and impressive levels of reliability and punctuality ensure the effective service provision that fuels the impressive and consistent passenger growth.

Highly Commended

First Cymru – Greyhound Express

Staff with one of the stylish Greyhound vehiclesFirst Cymru has operated a successful express service between Swansea and Cardiff for many years. In March 2013, this was extended to provide a direct luxury link with coaches fitted with leather seats, power sockets, free wi-fi and toilets on board between Swansea, Cardiff, Newport, North Bristol and Bristol Airport. As well as catering for those travelling to the University of the West of England and North Bristol’s employment zones, in the absence of a rail alternative, the company seized the opportunity to develop a road-based connection for people wishing to travel from South Wales to their destinations via Bristol Airport.

Who could be nominated?

Individual scheduled express coach services operated by single licensed operators, either on their own account or under contract to a marketing organisation.

… and by whom?

We welcomed nominations from customers, authorities, user groups, bus operators or marketing organisations which contract in operators to run a service or network of services. Self-nomination was acceptable.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

Entries were judged on the quality of the submissions made, which needed to:

  • Address the issue of customer relations:
    • For own-account operators, explain how the company maintains and improves customer relations. Submissions should discuss, but not necessarily be limited to, the use of customer satisfaction surveys, suggestion and complaint handling procedures and customer newsletters
    • For contracted operators, provide evidence of feedback on customer relations performance, supplied by the operator’s clients if possible
  • Explain the company’s approach to catering for specific customer groups, for example mobility impaired passengers
  • Submit evidence on the approach taken to transport integration, partnership working, response to the policies of transport authorities on the route(s) and how it fosters and contributes to the life of the communities it serves.
  • Describe any fares initiatives designed to increase patronage, particularly amongst car-owners, and / or to improve accessibility to a wide range of potential passengers.
  • Provide evidence of the operation’s employee relations policies, including:
    • diversity
    • equal opportunities
    • training
    • employee development programmes.
  • Provide statistics on timekeeping and lost mileage
  • State whether or not there has been any Traffic Commissioner action in the three years prior to entry or whether any investigation, disciplinary hearing or known VOSA report is ongoing at the time of entry. If so, provide a full account of the matter(s).
  • 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 operator’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,
    • remarks explaining how the operator 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 accessibility for people with mobility difficulties
    • Submit evidence by statistics to confirm patronage and revenue trends, and statistical evidence of modal shift.

Entries should address each of the above criteria to assist with the judging process, because non-transferable marks will be allocated for each of these criteria.

Short-listed entries will be assessed by “mystery travellers” to measure the operators’ standard of service.

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