This award was open to independent operators of registered local bus services with fleets of less than 100 vehicles, which were not in the sole or majority ownership of a public limited company (plc). Subsidiaries of plcs were asked to enter one of the categories for shire or city operators, as appropriate.
The winner of this award delivers consistently excellent customer service and demonstrated its success through sustained effort. The winner showed how it is financially sound, maintains high operational and engineering standards, gives priority to the Health and Safety of its staff and passengers through comprehensive risk management, invests in its fleet and its staff, forms effective partnerships, identifies with and responds to the communities it serves and always strives to sustain and grow the bus market.
Eight years after starting, Konectbus now runs over 30 low-floor buses within Norwich and throughout mid-Norfolk. With an average fleet age of 5.1 years the company has achieved fare-paying passenger growth of over 30% year on year by paying close attention to quality and reliability throughout the business, resulting in an operating margin in excess of 30%.
The judges were very impressed with how far Konectbus has come in the short time since they were formed. This is undoubtedly a high quality operation, attracting excellent passenger growth with a modern fleet, and achieving superb financial results. Partnership with the local authority, concentration on reliability in a city where traffic congestion has traditionally been a major problem, and in particular their close attention to detail in a significant number of areas of the operation affecting their customers and staff, led the judges to score Konectbus very highly.
Runner Up: Western Greyhound
Western Greyhound has transformed dying rural bus services in impoverished parts of Cornwall into a modern, well-marketed high-quality network whilst, at the same time, investing heavily and delivering sparkling passenger and revenue growth. Its core values are reliability and quality in partnership with its stakeholders to improve the perception of its own operation and bus travel generally.
A winner at the last two Bus Awards, Western Greyhound has continued to transform rural bus services in the often sparsely populated areas of Cornwall into an integrated, well-marketed high quality network often at higher frequencies. The company has, at the same time, invested heavily delivering impressive passenger and revenue growth. Whilst there was some concern at the lack of accessible vehicles, the concentration on core values that include reliability and partnership with stakeholders to improve perception of its own operation and bus travel generally again impressed the judges.
Ipswich Buses remains a locally-owned company, providing high-quality services in and around Ipswich; it aims to promote and grow the local bus market by getting the basics right first time, providing a punctual, reliable service with clean, modern buses driven by well-trained and motivated staff.
The judging panel saw Ipswich Buses as a very good operator with initiatives in place to be even better - an excellent example of a traditional municipal transport undertaking that has reinvented itself into an imaginative, financially-sound, modern bus company. The concentration on providing a punctual, reliable service with clean modern buses driven by trained and motivated staff was a model that other companies could do well to follow.
The judges were particularly impressed by the risk management and other initiatives in place that will bring benefits in the time to come, and look forward to entries for the Awards from this operator in future years.
Sustained investment, innovation and promotion at Norfolk Green has resulted in passenger growth of up to 40%. After discounting the effect of free concessionary travel and new route development, fare-paying passenger numbers are now up 12% on last year. The company expects to achieve a higher operating margin in the current financial year despite freezing fares for two years.
Norfolk Green is an enterprising company that is leading the way in developing excellent services in an area that does not lend itself easily to sustainable and profitable bus operation. Investment across the board, innovation and promotion has enabled Norfolk Green to achieve impressive passenger growth even discounting the effect of free concessionary travel and new route development.
The judges were particularly impressed by the excellent publicity, the company's corporate brochure and its website. Partnership with local authorities and good community relations generally again demonstrate just what can be achieved by public transport even in areas which are not traditionally good bus territory.