South East - Kent, Surrey & Sussex

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

Winner, Silver Award

Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company

Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company has continued to innovate, reflecting in it's ability to buck the national trend with a 2% growth in passengers every year. The company believes that its sales and use of mTickets are probably the highest in the UK with the equivalent of half of the city's population downloading the app. Brighton & Hove led a multi-operator ticketing scheme in the city and is the only bus company in the country with a dedicated Accessibility Officer and a taxi guarantee scheme for passengers in a wheelchair who cannot board a bus for any reason. This, along with its Helping Hand customised high visibility card that tells the driver about about a passenger's specific needs, and its work with Guide Dogs UK, have been nationally recognised. Brighton & Hove has next-stop audio and visual announcements and free wifi across the entire fleet, and is just skirting 100% for USB charge points at every seat. The company is moving forward with initiatives that put people first - customers and employees - to make the bus more attractive, reduce delays and emissions, encourage bus loyalty and keep the city moving.

It's significantly improved services since last year was just one of the reasons that pushed Brighton & Hove into the Silver Winner position, having already been declared the Top City Operator this year.

New Horizons Award sponsored by Passenger Transport

Getting connected, using Arriva Click.Winner, Gold Award, ArrivaClick - Arriva UK Bus

Arriva launched ArrivaClick, an on-demand high specification minibus service in Sittingbourne, Kent, in March. It is an intelligent and flexible service where the passenger dictates the journey schedule via a smartphone app. The service does not follow fixed routes, but takes customers to their destinations via the shortest route. The backend technology allows passengers to be picked up and dropped off in an endless stream, without taking riders out of their way to accommodate others, enabling the carrying of a high volume of riders while using many less vehicles utilised by other on-demand platforms. The customer requests a pick-up location and destination in the app and ArrivaClick instantly provides an ETA and price. Once the customer accepts the journey, a virtual bus stop is created. Customers can pre-plan their journeys or they can request in real-time. They receive an SMS alert two minutes before their minibus arrives and they can track their vehicle en-route, as well as contact their driver directly in case of difficulty. The system is cashless, meaning there is no need to cause delays by paying the driver. High specification Mercedes minibuses are used which provide comfortable seating, charging points and free WiFi. ArrivaClick has seen tremendous growth in its first three months due to a targeted marketing and growth strategy, and is set to scale-up in the near future.

Although probably not a replacement for cutting bus services as the system can only be used with a smartphone app, the judges thought that this great has great potential and could tap into a new market of young professionals and be a good filler for smaller towns and rural areas that do not have bus services or that run at unsuitable times.

The Award for Sustained Marketing Excellence sponsored by Exterion Media

The cover of the first edition of Specially Commended

Bus Times 30th Anniversary - Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company

Brighton & Hove Bus Company's 'Bus Times', which celebrates its 30th birthday this autumn, is unique in the bus industry for its longevity and because it still has a much-loved place amongst the array of digital communication channels. Research showed that passengers wanted comprehensive bus timetables in one booklet regardless of operator. Brighton & Hove took the initiative to meet this need, covering every bus service run by all bus companies in the city, and replacing all the company's timetable leaflets with one good quality free publication. Printed twice a year in the spring and the autumn - and thus dictating the timing of any service changes - the publication includes a service summary indexed by destination and number, frequency summaries, full service timetables with a 12-hour clock, route diagrams with each timetable, fare information and promotions of private hire. Bus Times currently has a print run of 70,000 and flies off the shelves when it's published showing that it still has a much-loved and valuable place amongst the array of digital communication channels in the customer experience.

The judges thought that Brighton & Hove deserves a special commendation for continued production of what was probably the first fully integrated bus timetable, including the services of other operators. They noted that in the days of apps and smartphones, Bus Times demonstrates that there is still a very strong demand for a paper product.

Top City Operator sponsored by INIT Innovations

Celebrating Gay Pride with this eye-catching liveried bus helps keep the company at the heart of the community.Winner, Gold Award

Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company

Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company has continued to innovate, reflecting in it's ability to buck the national trend with a 2% growth in passengers every year. The company believes that its sales and use of mTickets are probably the highest in the UK with the equivalent of half of the city's population downloading the app. Brighton & Hove led a multi-operator ticketing scheme in the city and is the only bus company in the country with a dedicated Accessibility Officer and a taxi guarantee scheme for passengers in a wheelchair who cannot board a bus for any reason. This, along with its Helping Hand customised high visibility card that tells the driver about about a passenger's specific needs, and its work with Guide Dogs UK, have been nationally recognised. Brighton & Hove has next-stop audio and visual announcements and free wifi across the entire fleet, and is just skirting 100% for USB charge points at every seat. The company is moving forward with initiatives that put people first - customers and employees - to make the bus more attractive, reduce delays and emissions, encourage bus loyalty and keep the city moving.

The judges praised the company for a well written entry that demonstrated Brighton & Hove's transformed industrial relations and much improved performance since last year. Strong patronage and growth in an already saturated market was impressive, as is the company's empathetic use of social media, which is manned throughout the night. The judges considered that this was a very worthy Gold Winner.

Top National Bus Driver: the Chris Moyes Memorial Award

Phil Hadley from Brighton and Hove - whose compliments are weighed rather than counted!Winner, Bronze Award

Phil Hadley - Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company

Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company's driver Phil Hadley gets so many customer compliments, the joke is they're no longer counted, but weighed. You only have to mention his name around the depot in Hove and you'll hear "Ah, he's the one that gets all the compliments . . ." Phil is authentic and it's this that totally disarms his customers. His insistence on chatting to customers and the board and alight breaks down social barriers and reminds his passengers how much they want to belong, feel valued and be part of a community. As Phil says: "The only reason I do what I do is because I want to build a better community to live in."

"This entry put a smile on my face and made me want to get on his bus," commented one of the judges. The panel also noted Phil's excellent service record over many years.

Top National Bus Depot sponsored by Personal Group

Keeping the vehicles fit for purpose: maintaining Crawley depot's fleet.Winner, Bronze Award

Crawley - Metrobus

Metrobus started operating from its Crawley Depot in 2001 when the existing operator declared that operations in the town unviable. The last 16 years have seen unprecedented growth, investment in fleet, depot infrastructure and new technology. The depot has an enviable reputation for quality, investment and customer service. Routes vary from inter-urban services connecting small villages to areas of employment or commerce to four routes with 24 hour services to Gatwick Airport. Gatwick is the area's biggest employer and 30% of local staff now use Metrobus services to get to work with the company operating over 33 buses an hour to the airport. Given the amount of competition for staff, Metrobus has worked hard on retaining staff with initiatives such as free bus travel to staff and their families alongside heavily discounted rail travel, discounts at high street stores, a six monthly on-site health check and very flexible working patterns aimed at parents with children.

Crawley has maintained its consistently high standard over a number of years. The judges picked out good employee engagement and flexible work patterns.

Unsung Heroes Award sponsored by Backhouse Jones

Ashley Burrows who works for Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company.UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service

Ashley Burrows - Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company

Electrical Technician Ashley Burrrows is responsible for Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company's state-of-the-art real-time information kit. The device, which drivers log into when they start their shift, looks like a big mobile phone and sits just above the eye-line on a purpose-built bracket. The radio-communication system is built into it and allows Real Time Control Room supervisors to call and message drivers individually, in groups - such as all those on a certain route - or every driver in the company simultaneously. Brighton & Hove is the only bus company outside of TfL in the UK to use such a device, something about which Ashley is very proud. He re-arranged his own working hours as the bus can't come off the road if the kit's out of order. Ashley chose to alter his working day so he could work late into the night to repair buses so they're not out on the road a second day with their real-time information system not working. The company only has one person ensuring the real time system is so reliable. Luckily that man is Ashley Burrows.

Focussing on a very narrow area, the judges commented that passengers are increasingly reliant upon the accuracy of real-time information systems, so it's good to see that Ashley and his work are being recognised.

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