Bus and the Community Award
Finalist, First Bus in the Midlands and Trussell Trust Foodbanks - First Bus - Midlands
A partnership was established in October 2015 when First Bus in the Midlands was approached by the Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank, asking if the company could help with providing free travel to get volunteers to their distribution centres. The partnership with the Trussell Trust has evolved with First Bus now providing free journey vouchers to volunteers and foodbank users in Stoke on Trent, Leicester, Worcester, Pershore, Droitwich and the Malverns as well as a foodbank run by Charity Link in Leicester. Foodbanks are now firmly established as First Bus in the Midlands' local charity partners with a range of supporting activities in place as well as free travel. Members of staff are volunteering at foodbanks, drivers are helping foodbank users carry their bags and there are places in each depot where items of food can be donated. One depot is now passing items of lost property to its local foodbank to help raise funds and it hoped to roll this out across the region. The company is the only bus operator in the UK that is working in partnership with the Trussell Trust and the partnership has supported more than 2,000 individuals and families.
The judges were impressed with how quickly the company embraced helping foodbanks and rolled it out across the region and embraced other ways to help. They considered it to be something that other bus operators across the country could replicate.
Putting Passengers First sponsored by Euro Bus Expo
Finalist, 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.
Services to the Bus Industry sponsored by Buses Magazine
Winner, Gold Award, Ian Morgan OBE - Wellglade
Ian Morgan OBE joined the bus industry as a trainee with the National Bus Company in 1972 and held a variety of line management jobs culminating in his appointment as Traffic Manager of Trent Motor Traction company. In 1985, Ian was part of the management buyout team at Trent, becoming Deputy Chairman of its holding company Wellglade, a post he has held ever since. Wellglade has grown into a group of five local bus operators in the East Midlands - trentbarton, Kinchbus Door2door, Notts+Derby and TM Travel plus a cleaning business, Kleanline. It employs almost 1,500 people and operates a fleet of nearly 500 buses. The Group is also part of the Nottingham Tramlink consortium and a partner in its operating subsidiary Nottingham Trams Limited. It also owns a 50% share of local bus operator High Peak Buses. Ian has also been active for many years in the industry trade association, the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT). He served as President in 2009, and has been its Chairman since 2011. He was appointed OBE in the Queens' Birthday Honours in 2015 for services to public transport. He helped to found the UK Bus Awards as well, serving on the Management Committee for several of the crucial early years. In addition to his work for the industry, Ian has been very active locally: at East Midlands Chamber of Commerce between 2006 and 2015, he served successively as President, Board Member and as Vice Chairman of the Derbyshire Members Council. He has been a board member at D2N2, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, since the spring of 2015.
In making the award, the Management Committee paid tribute to Ian's hugely impressive record of service to the industry, the Wellglade group and the wider community in the East Midlands. They also particularly highlighted his key role in creating and developing ground-breaking approaches to product design, branding, marketing and staff training at Wellglade. These have made its bus operations hugely successful over the last 25 years, and the initiatives have acted as beacons for the rest of the industry to follow.
Top City Operator sponsored by INIT Innovations and
UK Bus Operator of the Year sponsored by Arthur J Gallagher & QBE Insurance
Winner, Gold Award - Nottingham City Transport
Customers on Nottingham City Transport's (NCT) buses are the most satisfied in the country, with an overall rating of 97% in the most recent Transport Focus survey. Nottingham has the second highest bus use per head of population in the UK, despite a very challenging couple of years as new tram lines were built, the ring road was upgraded and the A453 was expanded. Partnerships with local authorities have also brought benefits to customers including 1,400 bus stops with real time displays in Nottingham (the highest outside London), direct access to Nottingham's Traffic Control Centre cameras to allow NCT Control Room staff to manage the network, and over 50 junctions now fitted with bus traffic light priority guaranteeing a green light for late buses. NCT instigated a Roadworks Consultation Regime to ensure that bus operators are involved from the planning stage of street works, something that has been vital through the recent A453 widening, tram works and ring road upgrade. The installation of next stop announcements has continued and they now cover 80% of the fleet, whilst the whole fleet now offers free wifi, which is thought to be a first for an operator in England. The first 'Oyster' Pay As You Go system outside London has also been added this year.
The judges noted that despite difficulties with roadworks, NCT has continued to offer an excellent service. The Free Travel Fridays on routes affect by tram works is a nice gesture to keep customers happy. The company clearly ticks lots of boxes with investment in new vehicles and facilities for passengers such as next stop announcements and free wifi across the whole fleet. The judges also commented on the way drivers are looked after with extensive training in customer service skills and offering the highest pay rates in the region.
Top Shire Operator sponsored by Ticketer
Finalist - Stagecoach East Midlands
Stagecoach East Midlands runs a network of bus services across Greater Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and East Yorkshire providing connections for local communities to employment, education, healthcare and retail facilities. The company has voluntary Bus Quality Partnerships with Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and Hull Councils, meeting regularly to discuss bus services, transport policies and customer feedback. It also works closely with district councils where new developments have included brand new bus stations in Grimsby and Worksop, and work with the City of Lincoln Council will see construction of a new transport interchange in Lincoln, which is scheduled to open in December 2017. In 2016/17 a package of enhanced bus priorities is being introduced in Skegness with Lincolnshire County Council.
The judges were pleased to see the company moving forward with new innovations such as its first timetables in Polish for the Shirebrook area and increased passenger satisfaction levels to 90 in North East Lincolnshire and 92% for services in Nottinghamshire.