Innovation 2007

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The logo of leading UK bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis


The Innovation Award was open to industry suppliers, operators and local authorities either separately or in conjunction with one another. It will be presented for a scheme or development that helps to attract more passengers, improve operations, reduce costs or otherwise improve efficiency.

A successful nomination for this award needed to demonstrate development of an original or novel idea that improved the image of the bus, to show how the initiative stimulated interest in, or desire for, the product, how the objectives were achieved and/or the lessons learned.

This award was made for an innovation which, in the opinion of the judges, most contributed to the improvement of the bus product. Evidence of quantification of the benefits achieved was therefore an essential requirement.

The Innovation Award recognises a notable development that has had a significant impact, leading to better bus services.

Winner: Kent County Council - Fastrack Bus Rapid Transit

In an innovative demonstration of policy integration and forward planning, Fastrack has delivered a step change in perceptions of 'the bus'. The partners' vision, shared objectives and sheer determination have established unique arrangements allowing successful introduction of bus rapid transit. Higher than expected patronage with 19% mode shift has already justified the approach and bodes well for future network growth.

The judges felt this was a truly impressive development placing buses at the heart of regeneration and community development.  They were impressed by the comprehensive partnership of developers, local authorities and contracted bus operator and the meticulous attention to detail extending from passenger information in the home, through bus stop facilities, interchange, highways and traffic management to bus specification.

Performance is excellent and whilst others may not be able to match the scale of resources available in this development area of European importance, the use of tried and tested methods to create true rapid transit using buses is a model that should be followed elsewhere.

Runner Up: Austin Birks/Go West Midlands - "ARTI" - Attraction, Recruitment, Training & Integration Project

Over the last 3 years an exemplary profile of the UK bus industry has been championed across the European and international stage.  By promoting a groundbreaking approach to the recruitment, training, integration and retention of staff as best practice, Austin Birks has been the driving force behind the ARTI project, demonstrating innovation and commitment.

The ARTI project, taking advantage of European mobility of labour to solve staff shortages in the UK, is strikingly holistic.  Staff recruited in Poland are taught conversational English, given an introduction to life in the UK and assisted through the immigration process as well as traditional company induction and training.  In this way recruits are assimilated fully into their new life in the UK.

Judges were pleased to see the involvement of trades unions, job centres and the European Employment Service as well as company management in developing the programme.  It is gratifying that a staffing entry has done so well and to see that the project is both reducing costs and improving service delivery.

Highly Commended:

First UK Bus - ftr                                                             

First's ftr project delivers a whole vehicle full of innovation. Combining the quality of a tram and the flexibility of a bus has done the impossible - getting people talking about the future of public travel. The first scheme, delivered in York in partnership with City of York Council, has delivered year on year passenger growth of 28%.

The judging panel considered that the boldness of First and its collaborators in taking a fresh approach to bus design deserved recognition, especially now that some initial problems have now been overcome.  Results from Service 4 in York are encouraging with an estimated 4% modal shift from car within the 28% first year patronage growth, well on the way to the target of 10% over 5 years.

Nottingham City Council - Adult Citycard 

Adult Citycard is a smartcard that incorporates bus travel, access to libraries and leisure centres and discounts at leisure centres. Citycards have been mailed to every City resident. Citycard aims to increase public transport patronage and usage of City libraries and leisure centres.

Other services may be added in the future.  Distributed in an informative pack to all city residents with a "taster" of one day's free travel loaded on the card, a third of recipients have added further travel to the card yielding an estimated million extra public transport trips at a net cost of 8p per journey.

Judges were pleased to see smartcard technology "coming of age" in Nottingham following earlier success of the Senior and Mobility Citycards as runner up in 2006 and hope that in future years the scheme will be extended to the services of other transport providers using ITSO (the Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation).

Stagecoach North East - Quaylink

Quaylink represents a breakthrough in transport innovation. Using two different power sources, it forms a state-of-the-art solution for modern, environmentally-friendly transport in the Newcastle/Gateshead area.
The service has contributed greatly to keeping the area 'green' and has been chosen as a DfT 'Clearzone' trailblazer. Many consider that hybrid traction has a major part to play in delivering greener, smoother bus services.

Quaylink is more than just a bus service: it represents an iconic symbol of the regeneration of the area. Quaylink combines a new service assisting regeneration with a useful demonstration of hybrid bus technology in a challenging city operating environment.

Judges noted that the service is recognised by the Department for Transport as a Clearzone trailblazer and has become synonymous with regeneration on the banks of the Tyne.

Stagecoach Oxford Tube - enabling passengers with WiFi

This year Oxford Tube introduced free WiFi internet access for all passengers to its entire fleet. High speed broadband is available on all journeys and accessible through laptops, enabled phones and suitable hand-held devices.

Introduction directly followed a technical trial period and 8,500 discrete users accessed the web 40,000 times during the first six months of the service.

WiFi is an interesting innovation for buses and coaches, especially if it can be offered as an adjunct to other systems and services  Oxford Tube has proved the concept using Moovera's Moovbox broadband technology and is now exploring the additional GPS-based services such as Automatic Vehicle Location, Real Time Passenger Information and Safety and Security monitoring.

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