The Putting Passengers First Award

The Claudia Flanders Memorial Award

The late Claudia Flanders, widow of entertainer Michael Flanders, was advisor on disability to the National Bus Company. In 1987, in memory of her husband, she established Tripscope to help disabled and elderly people solve their travel mobility problems. The UK Bus Awards has recognised and rewarded improvements in the accessibility of the bus in Claudia's memory since 1999 through a special award for accessibility.

The improvements in accessibility for those with a mobility handicap have delivered benefits for all bus users, and helped to shape the wider improvements in the industry's approach to its customers.

Through seeking to highlight best practice and improvements in genuinely putting passengers first, this Award recognises her achievement, and seeks to encourage even more innovation and hard work in this field.

The judges are looking for:

  • an organisation that has set a new standard to deliver customer satisfaction, or
  • a particular creative solution, developed by an organisation or team, which had vastly improved the experience of passengers, or
  • an initiative that had improved the journey experience for a particular passenger group, such as people with impaired mobility

Ideally, the winner of the award will set ambitions for the future and thus blaze a trail for others in the industry to follow.

The Winner

Go North East's projectGo North East, Moving with our People

Go North East has a passion for service and innovation, which it firmly believes is responsible for driving growth in passenger volumes and satisfaction levels. Refreshing conventional approaches, as well as the introduction of new technology in its communications, pricing and service delivery across the region, has earned it a reputation for delivering value for customers. These have challenged established thinking about the way bus services should be run.

The company continually strives to provide its customers with choice and believes that this sets it apart from other transport providers. Customer feedback is collected on a daily basis through social media channels and via the dedicated customer services team, and recorded so that it can be used as intelligence to shape continual improvement in customer service.  It is people who deliver bus services and people who use them.

Unless companies engage actively with both, the bus will not realise its potential. So the emphasis on frequent and effective communication with staff and especially customers by Go North East, confirmed by Bus Users UK going out of its way to comment that the company “has an excellent record of communicating with its passengers”, and borne out by its record for passenger growth and modal shift, particularly appealed to the judges.

Runner Up

A bespoke bus service in YorkTransdev York, York Unibus, A Partnership for Progress

Unibus is a bespoke bus service, created to provide a direct bus service between the University, York City Centre and Rail Station.  It provides free inter-Campus travel for students, staff & visitors, the backbone of which is superb customer friendly service from our dedicated drivers.  It is an organic service, which reacts and changes to the customer's needs as expressed through regular liaison with the University, its staff and students.

Whilst special services for students are provided in many towns and cities where there is a university, the judges felt that Unibus took this concept to a new level of partnership with the college authorities, other stakeholders (which include the students’ union) and users of the service. As well as the regular monthly meetings to monitor the progress of Unibus, the judges particularly liked the idea of ‘driver days’ each term when the team have a structured meeting with their peers, management and University Travel Plan Co-ordinator to deliver a presentation on the service’s performance, go through planned changes and have a general discussion about ideas and suggestions.

Highly Commended

Konectbus's express service into NorwichKonnectbus, Konnectexpress 8

Konectexpress 8 has truly been challenging the perception of passenger transport. It provides a high quality express bus service from Toftwood and Dereham to Norwich via the A47 trunk road. In response to customer research, the service commenced operation in September 2009 on a two-hourly frequency but was re-launched in January 2012 with the arrival of five brand new leather- seated Enviro 400 double-deckers. The service is designed to match the car journey time and provides direct links with key city centre destinations including the railway station.

The judges were impressed with how, by good customer research, Konectbus identified a gap in the market and how, by clever marketing and the provision of the high quality service for which it is well known in its area and using dedicated drivers, the route has been developed to the point where it has justified the recent substantial investment in new buses. They viewed this initiative as a model example of how to identify and develop a successful new service.

Breezing into Bury St Edmunds - Stephensons of EssexStephensons of Essex, Breeze

This project involved the design, implementation and effective marketing of a completely new network of town services for the residents of Bury St Edmunds. Innovative routing provides faster journey times and this is coupled with an easy-to-understand fares structure featuring promotional offers and all day tickets. It was designed after extensive research, with the aim of creating modal shift in the town away from private cars and towards public transport.

Bus use in many small towns like Bury St Edmunds has suffered badly from increasing car use over many years. Such places have traditionally been viewed as having little potential for sustainable bus services. Stephensons have had the courage to recognise that one such small town might have potential and, by good customer research, effective marketing and a quality service, is attracting passengers to its network. Although it is still early days in Bury St Edmunds, the judges were impressed by what Stephensons have done and considered that, with a similar kind of initiative, there might be the same kind of potential in other small towns in the UK.

 

Who could be nominated?

Entries were welcomed from operators, authorities and others specifying and securing services, partnerships and tourist agencies.

… and by whom?

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

Criteria and Entry Requirements

Decisions were based on the quality of the submissions made and the extent to which they address the criteria. Therefore, nominations were required to:

  • Describe the project or organisation that is being submitted for the award
  • Show how the nominee has achieved one or more of the following:
  • Delivery of outstanding standards of service to bus passengers
  • Improvement in the standards of its service to all its passengers
  • Improvements to the journey experience of particular groups of passengers including those with restricted mobility
  • Show why the nomination is innovative and likely to influence others in the industry

In assessing and comparing entries, judges took into account the nominees’ underlying approach to customer service standards, which will be judged on the factors set out below. These also needed to be addressed in the entry:

  • Employee training and involvement: the extent to which staff are involved in the delivery of excellent customer service and in the development of the standards by which the organisation judges itself
  • Service delivery: how the organisation goes about achieving consistency of delivery and measurement of standards
  • Recovery – how the nominee goes about restoring the customer confidence when performance falls short of the expected quality
  • Customer information and contact: the approaches used by the organisation to ensure that customers are:
    • treated with respect and integrity
    • kept informed
    • provided with easily accessible points of contact
    • provided with clearly documented, published and auditable complaints procedures
  • Customer research - the extent to which a company or organisation:
    • seeks to discover the needs and expectations of bus customers, with some indication of the results of such a strategy.
    • bases its strategy on customer feedback
    • measures its achievements (and/or failures) by research and monitoring and uses results to modify or improve its approach

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