Innovation 2008

Sponsored by

UK vehicle manufacturer Alexander Dennis sponsors this award

This is the category which recognises and rewards new thinking in the industry - amongst operators, authorities and suppliers. It focuses especially on products which can reduce environmental impact, improve efficiency or make bus travel more attractive. A successful nomination for this award needed to demonstrate development of an original or novel idea that achieved one or more of the following:

  • improves the image of the bus
  • stimulates interest in, or desire for, the bus product
  • improves the efficiency of the industry
  • reduces the environmental impact of the industry

This award will be made for an innovation which, in the opinion of the judges, most contributes to the improvement of the bus product. Evidence of quantification of the benefits achieved is essential.

Winners: Cumbria County Council and partners

The NoWcard Multi - Authority Transport Smart Card Scheme

Customers 'touch in' using the NoWCard on a busA partnership of Cumbria County Council, Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool Councils, in conjunction with the local bus operators, is introducing ITSO smartcards across all 1,800 buses in the partnership area.

Concessionary bus travel is the first thing the smartcard is being used for, partly to ensure the technology becomes established. The long term development will focus on the need to include all possible smartcard ticket products which could be used on-bus. These include period tickets, carnets and an electronic purse.

NoWcard is already the largest smart scheme in England to conform to the ITSO national specification with 1.7 million transactions per month.

This leading technological innovation is complemented by unparallel co-operation with bus operators, and has been welcomed by drivers and passengers alike. It's transforming the image of bus travel in the North West.

Runners Up: Edinburgh Shuttle

The Edinburgh Shuttle minibusEdinburgh Shuttle is an excellent example of a successful commercial application of a demand responsive operation. It started December 2006 to provide a daily timetabled door-to-door shared transfer service with a 7-seat mini-coach between Edinburgh Airport and the city.

Reservations are made online or by phone, by the passenger or through sales agents like a hotel concierge or travel organiser. At Edinburgh Airport, passengers without reservations can buy tickets from a sales kiosk.
Departures are every 15 minutes with duplicate vehicles dispatched according to demand. Edinburgh Shuttle carried over 100,000 passengers in the first 15 months.

With ever increasing numbers of air passengers using public transport to and from the airport in line with BAA Edinburgh Airport’s access strategy, the distinctive and descriptive liveried vehicles of the Edinburgh Shuttle are set to have an increasing presence on the streets of the historic city of Edinburgh.

Highly Commended  

FirstGroup plc, Climate Change Strategy

FirstGroup's climate change logo 

In 2007 FirstGroup published a climate change strategy, setting out its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint with short and long term reduction targets. The strategy drove the implementation of a number of initiatives over the last 12 months within the UK bus division. This has already led to a reduction of 5.9%, saving 28,749 tonnes compared to figures for 2005/2006.

Over the last 12 months the focus has been on improving the fuel and energy efficiency of vehicles, and promoting the use of public transport to combat climate change.

Having already exceeded the short term target First’s climate change strategy is set to deliver significant future reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

FirstGroup plc, The Skills Pledge

FirstGroup was among eleven major employers invited by the Department for Education and Skills to sign the Skills Pledge - a voluntary, public commitment by companies to support employees in developing basic skills including literacy and numeracy.  Various improvements were seen in the areas of safety, customer service and driver retention.  Driver turnover, for instance, reduced a whopping 26% in the last three years!

Go North East, "txt2go" an innovation in mobile bus ticketing

Passengers paying by mobile phonetxt2go is a new easy, fast and secure way to buy bus tickets that are delivered to mobile phones in seconds and can be used for up to 90 minutes. Customers establish on-line accounts, either individually or for a whole family, this means no need to carry cash and ensures that a customer is always able to travel home.

The Oxford Bus Company - Economy Drive

The device which warns drivers when they should amend behaviourThe Oxford Bus Company has two pressing objectives. In the current climate it is essential to do everything possible to cope with ever rising fuel prices and to provide the city with the greenest possible vehicles.  The Economy Drive does just that by helping staff achieve even higher driving standards, cutting fuel consumption by nearly 14% and further reducing emissions.

Stagecoach West Scotland, The Bio Bus

The Bio Bus is a ground breaking environmental initiative that has seen the conversion of 8 fully accessible single deck buses from standard Ultra Low Sulphur diesel to 100% waste-derived biofuel. This is one of the first bus services in the UK to run on 100% biofuel, and it is calculated that in the first 12 months of operation the project will realise significant environmental benefits reducing carbon emissions by up to 960 tonnes.

The poster promoting Stagecoach's Bio Buses


Who could be nominated?

This category was open to industry suppliers, operators and local authorities either separately or in conjunction with one another.

And by whom?

Nominations were welcomed from all eligible organisations, and self-nomination was acceptable.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

Entries have been judged on the basis of the quality of the submissions, which needed to:

  • Provide a full description of the innovation, describing how it works and how it was introduced.
  • Explain how has it made a difference
  • State whether any partners were involved and, if so, describe their roles
  • Describe the mechanisms put in place for public consultation (where appropriate) and for comment and feedback?
  • Describe how were staff informed and trained, and the impact (if any) the innovation has had on their jobs
  • Describe how the impact of the innovation was measured.
  • Supply evidence of the overall trend(s) affected by the innovation, as appropriate, in:
    • patronage/revenue
    • customer satisfaction
    • cost and efficiency levels
    • environmental impacts
  • State whether the results are likely to be sustainable
  • Describe any future plans for further development.
  • Include any relevant supporting material.


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