The Putting Passengers First Award

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The logo of the 2017 Coach & Bus UK exhibition at the NEC 

Delivery of excellence in customer service is vital to future of the bus industry. This Award is designed to promote its delivery and improvement by rewarding excellence, best practice and innovation in this essential area. 

The judges are looking for:

  • An organisation that broke genuinely new ground in either:
  • the delivery of customer satisfaction, or
  • engagement with and gaining feedback from customers
  • A particular creative solution, developed by an organisation or team, which had vastly improved the passenger experience, or
  • An initiative that had improved the journey experience for a particular passenger group.

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

Winner, Gold Award

Enabling tomorrow's customers today - Reading Buses

Reading Buses has adopted a tailored focus on young people, recognising them as the commuting and leisure customers of the future. The company identified young people as being the biggest growth market for bus travel and are arguably where Reading Buses has the best opportunity to attract and retain users. Whilst always providing a strong a multi-generational offer, the company aims to convert and retain young people by providing transport that meet needs in their formative years, before their travel behaviours mature and cement, including car ownership. Clear branding and discounted ticketing (Solo), a dedicated school bus network (Silver stars) and a student-focussed University bus (Claret spritzer) have been provided and marketed through social media and interactive approaches to engage and communicate. The results are clear with 68% more Solo customers in four years and 17% more customers on claret University services.

The judges were impressed with Reading Buses' approach, clearly defining what it wanted to achieve, and proper measurement of the outcome. The company has successfully targetted the demographic that is traditionally the most difficult to please with a combination of appropriate, branded vehicles, attractive ticketing options and marketing through the channels most appropriate to the target customers. A good example of putting passengers first and a worthy Gold Winner.

Winner, Silver Award

West Midlands Safer Travel Partnership - National Express West Midlands and partners

Transport Focus' Bus Passenger Survey found that feeling safe is an important driver in people deciding to use public transport, so the West Midlands Safer Travel Partnership was set up. It is the first of its kind in the UK and is a partnership between Centro, West Midlands Police, British Transport Police and bus operators including National Express West Midlands (NXWM). A number of strategies were employed including changing the way incidents are reported, plain clothes police on buses and the deployment of 4G data units plugged in to the onboard cameras allowing footage to be streamed live to the police, bringing a rapid response to any incidents. Police and Crime Commissioner figures show crime on NXWM buses is down 6% this year and the latest Transport Focus Bus Passenger Survey statistics showed that more passengers are feeling safer with 79% of people said they feel secure on NXWM buses, and increase of ten percentage points since 2012.

The judges noted this as being a very good example of partnership working with a number of agencies. The scheme has been very successful in reducing antisocial behaviour and making bus passengers feel safe using a combination of traditional methods and new technologies.

Winner, Bronze Award

The Transport for Edinburgh App - Lothian Buses

Many customers, especially the often younger, tech-savvy customers, expect more from bus operators when it comes to delivering up-to-date information. To satisfy this demand, Lothian Buses has produced the Transport for Edinburgh App, which builds on the company's existing digital journey planner and partnership with Google Maps to deliver a real time journey smartphone application. Once a journey has been planned, it can be tracked in real time with the information on journey progress shared with anyone by e-mail, text message, Facebook or Twitter. This has proved to be a popular feature among passengers, especially parents who use it to track their children's bus journey and meet them at the bus stop.

Although not the first travel app, the judges noted it's user-friendly design and integration with trams. Real time information is very useful for passengers, and the ability to share journey progress is obviously greatly appreciated.

Finalists

Easylink - Nottingham Community Transport

Easylink is the new demand responsive bus service for the Greater Nottingham area operated by Nottingham Community Transport. Launched in December 2015, it replaced the Dial-a-Ride service which had been losing customers. Easylink was designed to be attractive to as wide circle of potential users rather than just those with "no other choice". Many of the old barriers including annual membership fees, booking restrictions and zonal fares have been removed or significantly altered. Since the launch of Easylink, the number of journeys made has increased by 63% and the number of registered users has increased by 130%, compared with the Dial-a-Ride service.

The judges noted the high level of consultation before the launch of the new service, which they considered to be very important in the context of the withdrawal of tendered bus services. Easylink shows that demand responsive transport still has a part to play in the public transport mix, even in a city with such a good network of bus and tram services.

Who could be nominated?

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

… and by whom?

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

Criteria and Entry Requirements

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

  • 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
    • engaged with customers through research or direct contact in a way which encouraged and delivered genuine feedback.
  • Show why the nomination is innovative and likely to influence others in the industry.

In assessing and comparing entries, judges will take into account the nominee’s underlying approach to customer service standards which will be judged on the criteria set out below:

  • 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 and engagement: the extent to which a company or organisation: 
    • seeks to discover the needs and expectations of its 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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The UK Bus Awards scheme is organised by The Bus Industry Awards Limited
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