Engineer of the Year sponsored by IRTE
William Watts - National Express West Midlands
Senior Engineering Supervisor William Watts began working at National Express West Midlands (NXWM) as a cleaner six years ago, but soon enrolled in the company's apprenticeship scheme. His hard work and enthusiasm and enabled him to work his way up to his current position at the Pensent depot. Having worked through the engineering ranks quickly, Will has a great ability to inspire people to have the confidence to believe in themselves and seek to develop themselves further. Managing the delivery of an annual budget of ú3.5m, he does not settle for the "we've always done it that way" answer, but looks for innovative ideas to use modern technology to improve the service to NXWM's customers. He successfully applies the core tenet that the company must satisfy its passengers to implement changes and strive for improvement that will ultimately benefit its customers.
The judges were very impressed with Will's progress at NXWM. He has a clear career path for himself and also seeks to bring on those working around him. He has made a significant impact in the Engineering department with cost and efficiency savings and sees the big picture that everything is ultimately geared towards having satisfied passengers.
Local Authority Bus Project of the Year sponsored by The TAS Partnership
Winner, Gold Award
The West Midlands Bus Alliance: A UK First - Centro and National Express West Midlands
Partnership between Centro (now the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority), bus operators and other stakeholders has been thriving in the region for many years, particularly with the region's largest operator, National Express West Midlands. The West Midlands Bus Alliance is the first partnership of its type in the UK and provides formal governance ensuring there is greater buy-in from bus operators, as well as the highways authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships by providing shared ownership of objectives and delivery. The intention is that by working closely together all of the benefits that might otherwise be achieved through franchising can be achieved, but without the need for contractual relationships and their associated costs.
In a very comprehensive and well supported entry, the judges were impressed that there is integration at all levels between National Express West Midlands and Centro. Being a good model that could be reproduced elsewhere, they were also pleased to see a single body acting in the interests of bus passengers making the scheme a very worthy Gold Winner.
Putting Passengers First sponsored by Euro Bus Expo
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.
Top City Operator sponsored by INIT Innovations
National Express West Midlands
National Express West Midlands (NXWM) runs over 1,500 buses on 200 routes, carrying nearly a million passengers every weekday. There is much competition from the car and now also the tram, so the company has to work hard to attract passengers. A hundred new buses were ordered this year, all with next stop audio visual announcements and a further 141 vehicles have had it fitted. Last year NXWM spent ú34m on 58 'Platinum' double decks with free wifi and comfy seats. After six months of service, some routes saw growth of between 10 and 25%, and 27% of those questioned new new bus users. The company feels it is part of the community it serves and is proud of the diversity of its workforce including the BME and LGBT communities. It is also the first transport plc to pay the Living Wage and NXWM is the largest Living Wage employer in the West Midlands. The company works closely with the police and has seen crime, and more importantly the fear of crime, fall markedly. And most significantly, NXWM is part of the UK's first Bus Alliance, which is paying dividends.
The West Midlands Bus Alliance has been a positive step and the judges noted other strong partnerships the company has built which are also bringing benefits to the business. Significant investment in high-specification vehicles is increasing passenger numbers and encouraging modal shift.
Top National Bus Depot sponsored by Personal Group
Tamworth - Arriva Midlands & Shires
Housing around 40 vehicles, Arriva says that the success of its Tamworth depot is solely on the exceptional and dedicated performance of its people. From cleaners, through to drivers, engineers to senior management, the workforce engaged and committed to delivering one key goal - to provide the people of Tamworth with exemplary customer service. The culture is such that each and every member of the team is made to feel valued and listened to, which is in turn then reflected in the way the customers are treated. It is a structure which has paid dividends, with customer satisfaction currently the highest from across all of Arriva's depots nationally, and sickness and staff turnover dropping significantly over the last 12 months.
The judges were pleased to see significant improvement in most metrics including lost mileage, staff sickness and staff turnover. Complaints per kilometre were also down.
Wolverhampton, Park Lane - National Express West Midlands
Wolverhampton is National Express West Midlands' second largest garage housing 200 vehicles which serve the city of Wolverhampton and its surrounding area as far as Birmingham and Stafford. In 2015, it won the company's Depot of the Year and it has a reputation for excellent employee morale and a good team spirit. In the last two years there has been a focus on improving the relationship between the operational and engineering teams to work together. This has resulted in reduced lost mileage and fewer complaints, despite the increase in mileage and staff numbers from 2014 to 2015.
The judges noted that all metrics are moving in the right direction and clearly the garage is improving. It is also good to see recent investment in new vehicles.
Young Manager of the Year sponsored by Chartered Institute of Logisitics & Transport
Winner, Gold Award
Stephanie Maher - National Express West Midlands
Stephanie Maher joined National Express West Midlands (NXWM) in September 2011 on the company's first bus-only graduate scheme. Since December 2014, she has been Operations Manager of the busy Wolverhampton depot with 554 staff and carrying 28m passengers a year. In 2015 Stephanie and her team won NXWM Garage of the Year. Wolverhampton garage achieved the best scores in the company for safety, cost, customer and people performance, winning three out of the four categories. Stephanie is very dedicated to her role as Operations Manager, and goes above and beyond to ensure the success of the garage and the welfare of her staff. Stephanie is a real people person and engages well with all members of the team at Wolverhampton. She has an excellent ability to build teams and to empower individuals. Senior management believe that Stephanie's winning combination of steely determination and a sunny personality makes her a great role model for women in the bus industry.
The judges were very impressed with her quiet effectiveness and significant personal development over the past couple of years. The scale of the operation at Wolverhampton is large and Stephanie has done well to take this on so effectively alongside studying for an MBA. She goes out and influences how decisions are made in the industry and takes every opportunity to expand her knowledge. In a very tight contest, Stephanie pushed ahead to become the Gold Winner.
Alistair Timmis - Arriva Midlands & Shires
Alistair Timmis is a young man committed to excellence in the passenger transport industry. He began his career with Harrogate Coach Travel (Connexions Buses) in North Yorkshire in 2007, where he cleaned and fuelled vehicles as a part time job and joined Arriva in 2012 as a General Management Graduate after studying at Durham University. Alistair took every opportunity given to him to learn the business from the ground up and has honed his management skills in a number of different operational roles prior to becoming a General Manager at Tamworth. It is a role he has made his own and excelled at, making a tangible difference to the running of services across the thriving market town.