Independent Operator 2009

Sponsored by

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).

The Winners: Western Greyhound

Delivering quality and patronage growth in a rural area!

One of Western Greyhound's low-floor busesThis is the fourth winner's trophy in five years that the company has won for its outstanding work in delivering progressively high quality rural bus services across Cornwall – a stunning achievement. And in the fifth year they came a close second!

Western Greyhound is a highly respected and successful independent operator based in rural Cornwall. It runs 94 vehicles on a high quality network of services throughout the Cornwall countryside.

The company has adopted innovative marketing and high quality operations to revitalise rural bus services. Despite challenging market conditions Western Greyhound has increased turnover and profits, and invested substantially in low-floor buses. The mystery traveller assessment reinforced the quality of the operation, with excellent time-keeping and good customer care skills from the drivers.

Joint Runners Up


Konectbus runs 36 low-floor buses on frequent rural, inter-urban and urban routes throughout mid-Norfolk.  Investment in vehicles, technology and staff training and development, coupled with attention to detail in every aspect of the business has been consistently high passenger growth each year.


A bus run by joint runner up Norfolk GreenNorfolk Green

The past 12 months have seen continued innovation, investment and growth at Norfolk Green, despite the effects of higher costs and the onset of the recession. Patronage growth on our largely rural network is currently running at 21%, while the number of fare paying customers is now 18% higher than a year ago, and on-bus revenue is up by 26%.



Highly Commended

A section of Epsom's fleet lined up for inspectionQuality Line - it does what is says on the bus

Epsom Coaches Group

Quality Line sets out to do what it says on the bus, a name to be lived up to in day to day operation.  This is based on a sound foundation of excellent staff relations and conditions leading to satisfied customers, a first class operating record and playing an active role within the community they serve.

A bus uses a bus gate in IpswichIpswich Buses

A locally owned and managed Company aiming to provide local residents with high quality bus services at affordable prices,working in partnership with local businesses and the highway authority to promote modal shift and social inclusion through the development of  bus services designed to meet local needs.




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 are directed to 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 is acceptable.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

The short-list has been 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
    • 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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