Bus and the Community Award
Winner, Silver Award
Safe Zone Bus - Xplore Dundee
Xplore Dundee supports a variety of charities and community-based projects, but when it was approached to participate in the Safe Zone Bus, it seemed to be a natural partnership. The Safe Zone Bus is a bus fully equipped with a first aid area, seating and tea and coffee making facilities. It parks at a fixed point in a city centre supermarket's car park each Friday and Saturday night between 2200 and 0400 to provide a point of support for any vulnerable people out on the streets late at night. The bus is staffed by a team of trained volunteers and first aiders who work closely with Police Scotland and keep in contact with local pubs and clubs which can refer people to the Safe Zone Bus via radio. There is also a 'sweeper bus' which travels through the city and picks up anyone who looks like they are in need of help. Dundee Safe Zone is a multi-agency partnership with Xplore Dundee, Police Scotland, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Dundee City Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Dundee Community Safety Team, Cair Scotland, the British Red Cross and Dundee Street Chaplains, and is now a long term fixture after securing grants from various sources, including the Scottish Government and Police Scotland.
The judges were impressed with the large number of partners working together to deliver the scheme and thought that is good for Xplore Dundee to be forming links with many of the organisations. They also considered it to be a good project to help a section of society that includes the homeless, injured and distressed as well as those suffering from the effects of alcohol.
Environment sponsored by Volvo Bus
We think the World of Edinburgh - Lothian Buses
Lothian Buses is committed to reducing the environmental impact from its activities and created an environmental brand 'We think the world of Edinburgh'. This commitment has seen the introduction of new technologies to reduce the impact on the environment. With 85 hybrid buses currently in service, the company is on its way to meeting the Scottish Government's ambitious climate change targets. Numerous resource efficiency projects have been carried out internally such as increasing recycling rates - which last year reached 94% - as well as power and water saving projects.
The judges liked the eco-brand, and the approach which encompasses the entire operation, delivering comprehensive outputs.
Inverness ElectriCity - Stagecoach North Scotland
Last year Stagecoach North Scotland launched a ú1.1m fleet of six fully electric buses in Inverness. Partly funded from the Scottish Government's Green Bus Fund, the Optare Solo EV buses are the first fully electric buses of their kind to be used in Scotland. The new vehicles look identical to a conventional bus, the only difference being an electric power pack in place of the diesel engine. The buses all have a regenerative braking system which generates and stores electrical energy when the brakes are applied, enhancing their operational range to between 70 and 95 miles per full charge. The vehicle's top speed is 56mph but can be limited to a lower speed for greater energy conservation. The branding was developed in-house with the aim of raising public awareness of the technology and make them easy to identify on the road to passengers as well as the public as the new Optare Solo EV buses look identical to their diesel counterpart without their unique branding.
The judges liked this entry which, although small in scale, is significant in that if it can be shown that electric vehicles works in smaller cities, they can be rolled out elsewhere. A good partnership with Hitrans was noted, which provided two charging points. Overall the project represents a message for the future.
Local Authority Bus Project of the Year sponsored by The TAS Partnership
Winner, Bronze Award
Grasshopper Multi-Operator Ticketing - Aberdeenshire Council and partners
GrassHOPPER is the branding for an operator-led multi-operator bus ticketing agreement for North-East Scotland. It is administered by Aberdeenshire Council on behalf of a management committee made up of public sector organisations as well as First, Stagecoach and nine other smaller bus operators. Adult Day and Weekly passes for six geographical zones across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are available covering an area of approximately 6,500 sq km with a population of 500,000. GrassHOPPER tickets allow passengers to travel on any local bus route and to connect between bus services. Paper-based tickets were replaced with smartcard passes in the summer, with further product developments to follow.
The large number of bus operators, covering a wide geographical area, that are participating in the scheme impressed the judges. Integrated off-bus ticketing is to be encouraged and multi-operator tickets are very beneficial for customers. The judges were also pleased to see the aspiration to extend the scheme to include rail and ferry operators and develop e-tickets.
New Horizons Award sponsored by Institute of Road Transport Engineers
Employee App - First Aberdeen
In August last year First Aberdeen unveiled a new way to communicate with its 500+ employees - the Better Journeys for Life (BJFL) app. Born out of a need to communicate more efficiently with all staff - particularly drivers which are a traditionally remote and difficult to reach group - more than 70% of the workforce now use the app on a regular basis. The annual internal staff survey in 2014 identified that colleagues wanted increased levels of communication through convenient and more interactive methods. It was recognised that established forms of communication such as the staff magazine and noticeboards had extremely low readership, so there was a recognition that a faster and more efficient way of communication was required, and an app seemed to fit the bill. The BJFL app contains news, route diversions, driver duty sheets and a regular video blog by Managing Director David Phillips. The app allows instant and dynamic communication via push notifications and has now been established as a handy tool for colleagues to plan their lives and check vital information. The exceptionally high download rate and positive feedback has cemented it as a permanent fixture within Aberdeen, and has been so successful that there are plans to develop apps in other businesses within FirstGroup including First Student, Greyhound, the UK rail division and across First Bus.
The judges agreed that the employees rarely read noticeboards so this seems a useful tool for employees with smartphones and tablets. Anything that improves the channels of communication between staff can only be a good thing. Whilst some employees may not currently have access to a smartphone or tablet, this will change in the future. The entry was marked down for being over the word limit.
The Transport for Edinburgh App - Lothian Buses
The Transport for Edinburgh (TfE) smartphone app brings together Lothian Buses and tram information in one place, and together with its connected ticketing app, allows users to buy m-tickets. The Travel Information app has been downloaded over 410,000 times and is used by an average of 30,000 people a day. In addition to journey planning, the app allows users to share their journey while blind and partially sighted users can have any part of the app spoken, including next stop announcements and walking directions to a bus or tram stop. With the app installed, a customer can point their smartphone at a tram or bus stop and the name of the stop and where services go from there is announced. Almost 10,000 m-tickets are used each day and the app allows customers to transfer an m-ticket to another customer's smartphone.
The judges recognised that the app and its associated ticketing app contain many useful features, such as the ability to transfer an m-ticket to another user, and that tram and Lothian Buses information is included, though not all bus operators in Edinburgh. Whilst in theory a single m-ticket can be bought, which would be useful for a visitor to the city, there is a minimum app transaction charge of ú10. The app has clearly been successful for regular travellers.
Putting Passengers First sponsored by Euro Bus Expo
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.
The Award for Sustained Marketing Excellence sponsored by Exterion Media
Winner, Silver Award
Lothian Buses NightBus - Lothian Buses
Many businesses as well as leisure and retail destinations in Edinburgh are open longer or even 24 hours a day. The strategy behind the expansion of Lothian Buses NightBus service is where there is evidence that a new route or increase in frequency has the passenger demand to sustain it, the company responds. Higher frequencies are employed to meet extra demand at the weekends, but the aim is to provide a comprehensive network seven days a week, working on the premise that the NightBus network should be available to as many passengers as possible, all of the time. This strand of the strategy has formed a key part of all NightBus marketing campaigns.
The judges noted the sustained growth of passenger numbers on Lothian Buses NightBus network, fuelled by sustained marketing over several years. Getting staff out at night gathering feedback was seen to be very positive and no doubt influenced future network developments as well as the marketing strategy. A worthy Silver winner.
Winner, Bronze Award
Express City Connect - Stagecoach East Scotland
Continued investment and development in the Express City Connect network by Stagecoach East Scotland means that ongoing engaging marketing campaigns have been required over recent years. The varied target market and wide geographical area across Fife, Perthshire, Dundee and Angus as well as Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Livingston to where the network now extends, has required significant effort. Simple and consistent marketing and brand development has been used to promote the luxury coaches, fitted with free wifi, air-conditioning, wheelchair lift, luggage lockers, CCTV, plug/USB sockets and the majority of the fleet also have leather, reclining seats and a toilet on-board. Cohesive and quality publicity material, well placed advertising and creative messaging ensure that the services are recognisable, trusted and aligned with the luxury product and continue to be successful in achieving modal shift and a positive journey experience.
The judges noted the continued investment by Stagecoach East Scotland in this high quality network of services and were pleased to see consistent growth in passenger numbers and modal shift.
Top City Operator sponsored by INIT Innovations
Winner, Silver Award
Lothian Buses, Edinburgh's principal bus operator, has a vision to deliver a world-class safe, efficient, green and socially-inclusive transport service for all those who visit, live, work, or study in Edinburgh and the Lothians. With a network of 70 day services, an extensive NightBus network operating citywide and the Airlink service which operates a 24 hour express service between Edinburgh Airport and the City Centre, Lothian Buses carries over 2.3m passengers per week. Edinburgh Bus Tours, the open-top tour division, is Scotland's third most popular paid-for visitor attraction. Lothian Buses is locally owned with shares held by the City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, West Lothian and Midlothian Councils and is the largest of the remaining municipal bus companies in the UK. Highlights over the pas year have included major changes to the provision of information, working with Google Maps to provide real time information, updating of the mobile app to include spoken directions for the visually impaired and the first m-ticketing app in the UK to allow transfer of a ticket to another user. Twelve new Volvo buses were put on the 24 hour Airlink route featuring a stylish glass staircase partition and integrated glass roof as well as leather seating, wifi, table areas, USB and three-pin power socket and plenty of luggage space. The 'We think the world of Edinburgh' environmental brand was launched last year and now 94% of waste is recycled across all Lothian Buses sites. An additional two million passenger journeys were made last year.
The judges comment on continued investment in the fleet, notably the 24 hour Airlink route which operates alongside the tram, and the increased functionality of the company's app. Passenger carryings and revenues have both increased and the judges praised the frontline staff who have kept the services on track during a period of changes in the organisation.
Top National Bus Driver: the Chris Moyes Memorial Award
Ian Walker - First Aberdeen
Ian Walker has passionately driven buses for First Aberdeen for 24 years. He has embraced life as a driver, and has successfully been elected by his peers as the Employee Director for Aberdeen. He regularly works his days off to help with community engagement projects and has spearheaded numerous safety campaigns. Whenever there's a seemingly impossible task, Ian is called upon - he's done everything from taking flowers to an elderly pedestrian involved in an incident, to volunteering to take local care home residents out for an ice cream and dressing up as Santa. His excellent customer service skills are evidenced through his many commendations, and he exceeds expectations in every performance review. Ian has also become actively involved in incident prevention using his day-to-day experience on the roads. His commitment and enthusiasm for whatever he does is infectious, and he is respected by his peers and leaders alike.
The judges noted that Ian is always prepared to get involved with additional activities, such as volunteering to take out residents of a local care home several times a year and creating 'welcome cards' for new employees. He has many customer commendations, greeting passengers as they get on board and waiting until they are seated before moving off.
Top Independent Operator
Winner, Gold Award
UK Bus Operator of the Year sponsored by Arthur J Gallagher & QBE Insurance
Winner, Bronze Award
Prentice Coaches is a family owned and run bus and coach operator based in Haddington, East Lothian in south east Scotland. Established primarily as a coach operator, the company has run bus services for most of that time and bus services now accounts for over 50% of the business. Both directors are fully involved in the business on a day to day basis, so any decisions can be made swiftly. The company constantly engages with its staff, taking on board their ideas and often implementing them as improvements to its bus services and the business as a whole. Prentice Coaches is a forward thinking innovative company that believes in running modern, eco-friendly buses, kept in immaculate condition, coupled with an old fashioned customer care ethos delivered by staff who take immense pride in delivering 21st century transport to our community. Live Bus Tracker has been available on the company's website for three years and the company's mobile app (marketed as 'App-Prentice') is under constant development. Prentice Coaches has a sense of duty to the local community, having twice stepped in at short notice to replace essential local bus services cancelled by the previous operator, and then turned around those failing services by running new, attractive vehicles driven by people who take a pride in their job, and increasing passenger numbers substantially.
The judges liked this small, but high quality bus operation, not afraid to invest in new vehicles and the latest technology to deliver a better experience for its customers.
Top National Bus Depot sponsored by Personal Group
Winner, Gold Award
St Andrews - Stagecoach East Scotland
St Andrews depot, operated in the busy university town by Stagecoach East Scotland, runs with a fleet of 25 vehicles and operates local town services as well as routes across Fife and into Dundee. With good reliability statistics the depot's efficient operations are a testament to the professionalism of the staff and high levels of morale at the site. Various social and sporting activities take place including the popular football tournaments and outings to some of the region many golf courses in association with other depots across Stagecoach East Scotland. It is often said that the St Andrews depot is a large family and the spirit and enjoyment they portray in their work demonstrates how much they enjoy their job.
The judges were pleased to note that the depot has a particularly strong social programme which no doubt helps create an excellent team spirit. With the many large events being held in the town, the depot has to cope with a big variety of transport provision on top of its regular services.