West of England

 

UK Bus Operator of the Year Sponsored by Gallagher & QBE Insurance

Winner, Gold Award - Go South Coast

Go South Coast describes itself as "the company that people want to work for, travel with and use!". Go South Coast comprises: morebus, serving Bournemouth and Poole; Reds, providing services for Salisbury and Wiltshire; Bluestar in Southampton and South Hampshire; Southern Vectis covering the Isle of Wight; Thamesdown in Swindon and Damory in parts of Dorset and Hampshire. Across all brands, passenger growth has been over 13% over the last five years, demonstrating consistent growth. Significantly this has come from within the pre-existing businesses rather than acquisitions. Contactless payments are being rolled out across the networks, in addition to accepting the Key smartcard and cash. USB charging and wifi is available on most of the fleet and next stop audio announcements should cover all vehicles by the end of the year. Customers also benefit from real time information and route planning with Google Maps on smartphones, but all timetables are also available online and in print.

Already a worthy winner of the Gold Award for Top Shire Operator, Go South Coast impressed the judges in so many areas, not least in achieving an outstanding mystery traveller score. This tipped the balance in their favour in what was an extremely tight contest.

The Award for Marketing Initiative of the Year sponsored by Bus & Coach Buyer

Out on the streets and preparing to talk to the customers as part of the campaign.Winner, Gold Award, Beat the Rise - mTicket campaign - First West of England

The advantages of mTicketing of reducing the amount of cash carried on the bus and faster boarding times are well known, but when First West of England (FWE) measured the amount of time spent boarding on one of its busiest routes, it found that 29% of the journey time was taken up with boarding. It then filmed a group of students to board a bus with cash and then repeat the process with mTickets. It took 10.5 minutes to board them with cash and 2.5 minutes with mTickets; on average, nine seconds faster per person to board with an mTicket. The Global Mobile Consumer Survey reported that 87% of the UK adult population has a smartphone, though FWE's own research found that, excluding concessionary users, 91% of its passengers owned a smartphone. In order to encourage mTicket use, a huge marketing campaign with included social media, in app banner advertising in over 80,000 apps within 1.5 miles of Bristol city centre, radio adverts and numerous poster sites. 'Beat the Rise' was the slogan, with price increases across the network for cash fares but prices held or reduced for mTicket users, alongside extensive use of the boarding video and the powerful message of reducing journey times. Drivers and other staff were included and reminded of the mTicketing systems and advantages. Year on year mTicket sales increased by 300% while on-bus ticket sales reduced by 20%. Average weekly sales revenue increased by 160%.

The judges really liked this well executed and honest scheme and were pleased to see the work done to demonstrate faster boarding, and thus overall decreased journey times when using mTickets over cash.

Top Shire Operator sponsored by Ticketer

Part of the modern fleet run by Go South Coast.Winner, Gold Award - Go South Coast

Go South Coast describes itself as "the company that people want to work for, travel with and use!". Go South Coast comprises: morebus, serving Bournemouth and Poole; Reds, providing services for Salisbury and Wiltshire; Bluestar in Southampton and South Hampshire; Southern Vectis covering the Isle of Wight; Thamesdown in Swindon, and Damory in parts of Dorset and Hampshire. Across all brands, passenger growth has been over 13% over the last five years, demonstrating consistent growth. Significantly this has come from within the pre-existing businesses rather than acquisitions. Contactless payments are being rolled out across the networks, in addition to accepting the Key smartcard and cash. USB charging and wifi is available on most of the fleet and next stop audio announcements should cover all vehicles by the end of the year. Customers also benefit from real time information and route planning with Google Maps on smartphones, but all timetables are also available online and in print.

With a diverse range of services across the region, Go South Coast impressed the judges with its smooth takeover of Thamesdown services and consistent passenger growth across all its brands over the past five years. Go South Coast's excellent social media interaction was also noted, and contributed to making it an around impressive operator, and a worthy Gold Winner.

Bus and the Community Award sponsored by Coach & Bus Week

Properly prepared for the service - erecting the bus stops.Specially Commended, Imberbus - Bath Bus Company with Industry Colleagues

The idea of Imberbus came to four senior transport people while in a pub in Bath in 2008; they wanted to run a registered bus service to the most unusual place possible. The village of Imber last had a bus service in November 1943. Lying within the Salisbury Plain Military Training Area, the houses in Imber were bought by the military in the 1930s and evacuated at short notice in November 1943 to practise for D-Day. They were subsequently largely destroyed and replaced by 1970s buildings for urban warfare practise. The residents never returned and the village, with its 13th century church, is completely inaccessible except when the roads are open a few days a year. Imberbus enables access to Imber and the enjoyment of the village, church and providing spectacular images of places otherwise completely inaccessible. It is staffed by some of the most enthusiastic senior people in the passenger transport industry using iconic buses, properly blinded, with faretables, ticket machines, iBus displays, running numbers and proper bus stops. This year over ú13,000 was raised in fares, exceeding last year's total, and donated to the Royal British Legion and St Giles Church. More than 1,500 passengers were carried on 23 assorted buses.

The judges thought that Imberbus deserved a special commendation for charity fundraising and raising the profile of the bus industry in a positive way in the regional and national press. Thousands of visitors, many of whom spend money in the local towns and villages, are drawn to this annual event only because this bus service exists.

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