This is the award which benchmarks the performance of bus garages in London, and rewards the best with a cash prize to be used on facilities to benefit the team which delivers the best service on a day-to-day basis.
Winners: Wood Green, Arriva London North
Wood Green once operated as a tram and trolleybus depot, and is now Arriva London's flagship garage, operating ten routes that cover an area from London Bridge and Trafalgar Square to Barnet and Potters Bar. The garage is a key part of the local area, crucial to local employment and the largest garage in Arriva London, employing over five hundred staff from all backgrounds.
Operational performance is to a very high standard, to the extent that two important routes, 29 and 141, recently won contract extensions, with excess waiting times being well under the minute. Route regulation at the iBus centre facilitates excellent communication. Driver quality and vehicle presentation both set high standards and the garage's overall performance is remarkable given the substantial scheduled mileage operated.
Wood Green has firmly embraced the greener outlook: hybrid bus operation started six years ago and valuable feedback is helping development of the technology. One driver is seconded to help colleagues develop their skills on the Ecolite system, reducing fuel consumption and giving passengers a smoother ride. The team spirit has shown through in the amount of rail replacement work undertaken and the impressive response to heavy ice and snow last winter.
Wood Green is a friendly, yet extremely busy garage with well-established links with the wider community, including schools and local police safer transport team, and contributing to local good causes. There are at least three husband and wife partnerships working there as well as three father and sons, and two brothers also on board. The judges felt that Wood Green had performed exceptionally well on all fronts.
Runners Up: Bexleyheath, Go-Ahead London Central
Bexleyheath Garage is committed to providing a safe, reliable, comfortable and clean service for its customers through a disciplined, highly trained, focused workforce. Garage driving competitions have resulted in higher driver quality scores and a 30% reduction in accidents. Efforts to improve quality include an enhanced inspection regime that ensures access ramps are working as each vehicle leaves the garage, an inter-garage competition linked to safety week and regular meetings with engineering staff on latest best practice in health & safety and maintenance techniques on new and existing vehicle types.
Green initiatives include garage mentors who help drivers to drive smoothly and save fuel, recycling of all paper, glass and metal, and appointment of an Energy Champion. There is a strong team spirit: social events are tremendously well attended and the garage Dragon Boat Racing team has raised over £26,000 for charity in the past five years. A consequence of the sense of community is that staff retention is at an all-time high. The judges were particularly impressed by the success of work done in conjunction with Safer Transport Teams making best use of CCTV, getting the public on side and making bus users feel safer.
Croydon regularly delivers high levels of performance on routes it operates, from the fringes of London to inner London areas. New recruits gain experience on less demanding routes under the watchful eye of mentors and all drivers have customer care training. Accident prevention tactics include hazard maps and lessons learned using incident re-creation using model vehicles and road layouts. RIBAS telematics are used to help improve driving standards and reduce fuel consumption: league tables encourage competition to raise driving standards and assist camaraderie. The judges noted that most services were covered during severe weather last winter and liked the fact that a staff bus has helped reduce private car use to and from the garage.
Edgware, Metroline Travel
Over the years, the staff at Edgware have transformed the garage into one that consistently achieves significant and sustained improvements in all areas of customer service on behalf of TfL. In addition to TfL performance indicators, Metroline has its own benchmarks for excellence - including attendance, for which Edgware was the best in the company, and staff turnover, now below 10%.
Edgware takes great pride in vehicle and driver presentation: staff spent their resulting QICS II bonus on a 6m bike rack and more staff now cycle to work. Local PCSOs are well-supported and hold regular forums at the garage. There is a high level of camaraderie and a thriving sports & social club as well as enthusiastic support for company supported learning initiatives. A staff charity walk to Oxford Circus raised over £6,000 for Macmillan Nurses.
Lea Interchange, First London
Building a brand new environmentally sustainable depot, dislocating buses across East London, running nearly 120 buses from portacabins with no detrimental impact on passengers has been an amazing success and a credit to all the staff involved. Considerable performance improvements were achieved over the year e.g route 339 went from 3rd best, to 2nd, then top. A contractor is used to shunt, fuel and clean buses. Question Time sessions with management and large information display screens help to develop and maintain a team spirit.
FirstGroup’s DriveGreen scheme is used to improve driving standards and reduce fuel consumption. There is a Green Travel Plan in place and the new garage has a biomass boiler and intelligent lighting. Fuel cell vehicles for route RV1 build on earlier trials and have zero emissions.
Uxbridge, First London
All drivers receive advanced training using the Smiths System, helping First London’s western operations to reach 2nd place in the operator league. There have been no Lost Time Incidents for over two years.
Staff have embraced the Green Road driver monitoring system and scores have improved from average 120 in October 2009 to 26 in July 2010. One driver won a monthly company prize in the Superstars programme regarding her exemplary customer service. Two drivers have been nominated for the Top London Driver Award, one last year and one this year. The depot is a strong community and raising initiatives include a London-Southend bike ride raising over £2,000 for British Heart Foundation and Save the Children.
About the Award
This award is open to garages that operate buses on contract to London Bus Services Ltd and operating over a million miles a year. Performance and monitoring data will be used by TfL London Buses to compile a shortlist of garages reaching high levels of recorded performance, which includes:
- Driver Quality Monitoring data
- Wheelchair ramp operational audit data
- Customer Satisfaction Survey and Mystery Traveller Survey results
- Lost Mileage
- Quality of Service Indicators
- Engineering standards
- Levels of public comments.
Each short listed garage will be challenged to submit its own assessment of its achievements, emphasising its impact on passenger service, staff well-being and the communities served by reference to specified issues.