Innovation

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 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.

The Winner

Stagecoach chief Sir Brian Souter samples the sleeper coachStagecoach Group and Scottish Citylink Coaches, Megabus.com Sleeper Service

Rising fuel costs have become a significant burden for bus operators. In addition, the industry needs to demonstrate that it is the environmentally-friendly alternative to the car. Whilst diesel-electric hybrid buses are now offered by most major manufacturers, the Volvo B5L uses the Parallel Hybrid System where both the diesel engine and the electric motor can drive the vehicle in mixed mode, each ranging from zero to 100% power. The parallel system also requires just one electric source, the motor doubling as the generator when recharging the battery, reducing weight and complexity.

The judges felt that the Volvo project was an excellent example of how the major vehicle manufacturers are now developing products which help emphasise the underlying green credentials of the bus industry.

Runner Up

Promoting Oxford's smartzoneOxfordshire County Council, Oxford Bus Co and Stagecoach Oxford, Oxford Smartzone

The Transform Oxford project, delivered through the limited company SmartZone, demonstrates how a dynamic, mature approach can give widespread benefits to bus users and the wider population. Using tools that are generally available under the Local Transport Act 2008, SmartZone has delivered significant environmental benefits whilst maintaining the attractiveness and access of high frequency commercial services with multi-operator inter-available ticketing, offering a new way to co-ordinate services and ticketing to customers whilst retaining competition between operators.

In the view of the judges, this is a pioneering initiative which creates a virtuous circle of improving public transport on a city-wide basis to benefit existing passengers and encourage modal shift, whilst at the same time adding to the efficiency and sustainability of bus service provision with a consequent benefit to the environment.  It is a model with potential for much wider application in the UK.

Highly Commended

Promoting smartcardsGo North East, Key Lifestyle

 

The Go-Ahead Group’s Key smartcard is a transformational ticketing project that has made bus travel simpler. New products have been introduced which better meet customers’ changing travel needs, making them easier and cheaper to buy and use, as well as speeding up boarding times. As a further development, Key Lifestyle diversifies the offer and provides customers with more options, not just around bus use but to suit their wider lifestyles.

Smartcards have become part and parcel of marketing initiatives and customer intelligence in the wider retail sector. With Key Lifestyle, the judges congratulated Go North East for being a pioneer in taking industry smartcards beyond purely bus travel applications, further improving the attractiveness of bus use by following the retail sector in giving customers wider added value from smartcard purchase.

 

Newport's student smartcardNewport Transport, Unigo

Whilst bespoke University services and smart ticketing are each now fairly common in the industry, Unigo is a pioneering UK ITSO-compliant smartcard providing students with unlimited access to the whole network of Newport’s services across the city and south east Wales, from just 49p per day. This network-wide approach, rather than being just campus-to-campus or corridor-based, is helping the operator demonstrate how the next generation of bus users can be encouraged to build their travel needs around the bus.

The judges considered that Unigo represents an interesting development of the market for student services. They were impressed by the use of market research and social media to ensure that expectations are not only met at the time of travel, but also with the aim of giving students a positive experience of bus services that they will take with them for their life after college.

Promoting safety in Northern IrelandTranslink, Safety Bus

Translink had experienced regular serious attacks against its drivers and buses. In 2002, the company introduced an innovative new teaching resource, the Safety Bus, to educate the perpetrators of the anti-social behaviour about the consequences of their actions. By the tenth anniversary of the Safety Bus in September 2012, 250,000 children and young people had been on board. This has contributed greatly to a massive reduction in the cost of vandalism and malicious damage (down from £750,000 to under £100,000 in five years), and driver absence. Whilst the Safety Bus initiative dates originally from ten years ago, the judges felt that it is worthy of recognition now because of the success of a project that was extremely innovative when first introduced.

 

Teaching youngsters about public transport in West YorkshireWest Yorkshire ITA (Metro), Metroville

In February 2012, Metro opened its innovative ‘Metroville’ classroom at the YMCA’s state-of-the-art youth facility Culture Fusion at a converted mill in Bradford. The inventive teaching space and associated materials provide a fun and interactive learning environment. This has enabled Metro to almost treble the number of pupils receiving its Junior SAFEmark workshop, part of the objective of which is to provide pupils with the skills and confidence to use public transport as well as helping them make better informed travel choices during their secondary school and adult lives.

In the judges’ view, this is an innovative and interesting project aiming to influence and improve behaviour whilst at the same time encouraging young people’s use of public transport

Who could be nominated?

This category was open to industry suppliers, operators and 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 were 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
  • 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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