Innovation

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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 improve efficiency or make bus travel more attractive.

A successful nomination for this Award needs to demonstrate development of an original or novel idea that achieves 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

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.

Winner: m-ticketing

Smartphone ticketing from ArrivaArriva UK Bus

Recognising that mobile phones have become an integral part of modern life, with more handsets than people in the UK, Arriva introduced its revolutionary mobile phone ticketing initiative in 2009.

m-ticketing allows customers to receive, buy and use tickets on mobile phones, giving additional flexibility and convenience as well as potentially saving them money.

The judges felt that the take-up that Arriva was now achieving confirmed the potential of the original idea, and that the use of mobile phones for bus use was a truly practical and innovative initiative, and something that could have a profound effect on the manner in which people pay for public transport journeys in the future.

Runner Up: New Tickets for the New Decade

Reading Buses

Reading Buses’ ticket machines were old, inflexible and increasingly unreliable – but the company wanted more from its replacement system than the market currently offered. So managers sought out a business that was totally new to the bus market.New ticketing systems for Reading

Their brief was to develop an innovative new system that offered more – a modular system, touch screen technology, the ability for menus to be tailor-made, an affordable solution that was instant due to the web-based GPRS operating system, offering total flexibility with complete user management at no extra cost.

No other major operator had signed up to be the ‘guinea-pig’ for such an initiative, and the judges were impressed that Reading Buses had been prepared to do so and that their bravery had paid off.

Highly Commended

Using a Centro smartcardCentro - Centro's Smartcard Initiative

In partnership with over twenty bus operators, Centro has designed, developed and implemented a multi-operator and multi-modal smartcard system. 2,300 buses (about 95% of those in the West Midlands) have been fitted with ITSO smartcard-reading electronic ticket machines and, as well as the current benefits, the scheme will support further customer-friendly and innovative ticketing solutions in the future, bringing increases in take-up and public transport use.

The judges were particularly impressed by the scale and breadth of the initiative and, in particular, the partnership with such a wide range of operators and other stakeholders.

NPlotting a service registration in Norfolkorfolk County Council - NCC's EBSR Success Story

Norfolk County Council has developed an on-line Electronic Bus Service Registration (EBSR) solution enabling bus operators to register services electronically with VOSA, delivering on the Government’s ‘More for Less’ agenda.

Immediate benefits from this innovative scheme stem from improved data accuracy and seamless integration with downstream systems Routewise, Busnet (real-time information), Traveline (customer enquiries) and public-facing printed outputs.

Whilst not a headline-grabbing initiative, the judges felt that this was a very practical scheme at a basic operational level that has wide potential benefits, and would be capable of being extended to other authorities across the UK..

Plotting a trip with Yellow BusesYellow Buses - Operator Journey Planner

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. So said author Arthur C. Clarke, and which the company considers to be a fitting starting point for Yellow Buses’ Journey Planner.

Accessible from the company’s website homepage, it offers access to single and hubbed trips, and includes walking time where applicable. Whilst journey planners are available elsewhere, this is believed to be the first comprehensive commercial journey planner by an operator and it has opened up a whole new world to Bournemouth’s local resident bus passengers and the high number of visitors to this south coast holiday town.

Smart ways to pay on StagecoachStagecoach Group - StagecoachSmart

Stagecoach Group is leading the way in launching ITSO-compliant smartcard technology on its services across the UK – so becoming the first of the major bus groups to complete the installation of ITSO-enabled smartcard machines on its entire UK bus fleet outside London. This has enabled the on-going roll-out of both concessionary travel and commercial smartcard schemes on Stagecoach buses across the country.
The result has been the introduction of the StagecoachSmart travel card commercial scheme in a number of places in the UK with an uptake that has exceeded expectations, confirming the potential value to customers and operators of such initiatives.

Judges' Overall Verdict

This was another category in which there was a very good number of quality entries, making the judges’ decision on a shortlist, let alone selecting a winner and runner-up, very difficult.

The entries indicated that some entrants were not really clear about what might be considered innovative. What may be innovative for a particular operator, or in a particular area, might not be innovative for the industry as a whole, and five or six entries would have been better placed in other categories.

Nevertheless, none of this should detract from the fact that there is a considerable amount of ground-breaking development taking place in the operating industry, and by suppliers and other stakeholders, which is very good news for the industry for the future.

Who can be nominated?

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

… and by whom?

Nominations will be welcomed from all eligible organisations, and self-nomination is acceptable.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

Entries will be judged on the basis of the quality of the submissions, which need to:

  • Provide a full description of the innovation, describing how it works and how it was introduced.
  • Explain how has it made a difference
  • Supply evidence of the overall trend(s) affected by the innovation, as appropriate, in:
    • patronage/revenue
    • customer satisfaction
    • cost and efficiency levels
  • State whether the results are likely to be sustainable
  • Describe any future plans for further development.
  • Include any relevant supporting material.
  • Describe the impact of the scheme on the accessibility of the bus product for people with mobility difficulties
  • Describe how the impact of the innovation was measured.
  • Describe how were staff informed and trained and the impact, if any, the innovation has had on their jobs
  • 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.

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