This week sees the first of this year's meetings of the independent judging panels for the UK Bus Awards, as the process of assessing more than 250 nominations gets under way.
A total of six different panels will convene over the next few weeks, each comprising a different set of independent experts specially recruited for their knowledge and experience. Altogether over 40 people will be involved in the process.
Mark Yexley, UK Bus Awards Chairman, said; "We are once again delighted with this response. Despite some difficult and uncertain times, our initial review of the entries shows that operators and authorities are still working tirelessly to improve services, promote them more effectively and reduce their environmental impact. The judges really are going to face some very difficult choices in all our categories - I am looking forward very much to taking part for the first time."
As always the awards feature categories especially for the people who work in the industry, as well as for high quality bus operation and a range of technical and professional skills. John Owen, once again acting as convenor of judges for the 2017 competition, is especially pleased about the number of entries in the people categories. "Over 50 bus industry employees have been nominated for our people awards, including our new Leaderhsip and Inspiration Award, as well as the competitions for Top National Bus Driver, Engineer of the Year, Young Manager and Unsung Heroes. As an industry we really do rely on our people, so this is great news. I'm very pleased with both the volume and quality of the nominations we're seeing this year: but we're going to have some busy meetings and some intense debates over the next few weeks!"
For the operating awards, including the grand prix contest for the title of UK Bus Operator of the Year, once again sponsored by A J Gallagher and QBE Insurance, the judges' views will be tested by the Mystery Traveller checks on the performance of the finalists. "Our checks on the standards delivered out there on the ground are never less than fascinating: the results can and do change the outcomes," confirmed John Owen. "I'm sure that will be true this year as well."
Technical and Professional categories feature Putting Passengers First, the Marketing Initiative of the Year and the Sustained Marketing Excellence Award. The award for Making Buses a Better Choice is once again presented in memory of Peter Huntley. "Each of these has a long list of really top notch entries," said John Owen. "And there are also very strong fields for both the Environment Award and our New Horizons Award too."
The finalists for the 2017 competition will be announced at a ceremony on Thursday 12 October in Manchester, and the 23rd Annual Presentation Ceremony will take place at lunchtime on Tuesday 21 November at Troxy in London's Docklands.