Independent Operator 2008

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Vehicle manufacturer Scania sponsors this award

The award for smaller bus companies with fleets of less than 100 vehicles not owned by a public limited company (plc).

Winners: Western Greyhound Ltd

One of Western Greyhound's new vehiclesDespite problems caused by the 50km rule,Western Greyhound has continued to transform dying rural bus services in impoverished parts of Cornwall into a modern, well-marketed high quality network. Buses are now often running at higher frequencies than they did before, and Western Greyhound has not held back in investing quite heavily in the resources needed to help this growth.

Western Greyhound has worked in partnership with stakeholders to make sure the company’s core values of reliability and quality continue to improve the perception of its own operation and bus travel generally. This has led to an impressive increase in passengers and revenue, and of course helped financial stability.

Previously, the judges had expressed concerns about the lack of accessible vehicles. The judges were pleased to see that this problem is now being addressed, and they were particularly impressed by the company’s pro-active approach in respect of drivers’ CPC and for its plans for the newly-won Truro park-and-ride contract.

Runners Up: Konectbus

A Konectbus vehicle on serviceSince its formation nine years ago, Konectbus has continued to grow and now runs 34 low-floor buses throughout Norwich and Mid-Norfolk.

The fleet’s average age is just 5.1 years. Konectbus has been fine-tuning the network and concentrating on maintaining reliability in an area where traffic congestion has been a major problem. Also, by paying attention to detail in every aspect of the operation, the company has been able to create a high quality service.

This has generated excellent passenger growth and an operating margin amongst the best in the country for the company’s size.

The judges were especially impressed by the close partnership Konectbus has with local authorities and other stakeholders, and the company’s NVQ success record for drivers.

 

Who could be nominated?

This award was open to independent operators of registered local bus services with fleets of less than 100 vehicles, which are not in the sole or majority ownership of a public limited company (plc).

Subsidiaries of plcs should enter one of the categories for shire or city operators, as appropriate.

… and by whom?

We welcomed nominations from customers, local authorities, user groups or bus operators. Self-nomination was also acceptable.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

The short-list has been determined on the basis of the quality of the submissions, which needed 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
    • State whether the company resolved any issues by reference to the Bus Appeals Body within the last three years prior to entry. The issues and the outcome need to be described
  • Provide evidence of the company’s employee relations policies, including:
    • diversity
    • equal opportunities
    • training
    • employee development programmes.
  • Provide statistics on timekeeping and lost mileage
  • State any Traffic Commissioners’ action in the three years prior to entry and 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.
  • Submit evidence on matters such as any partnership working, describe how the company responds to the policies of its local 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 local authorities and integration schemes. This should be supported by statistics to confirm patronage and revenue trends, and statistical evidence of modal shift.

Shortlisted entries will be assessed by “mystery travellers” to monitor the standard of service delivery.

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