The award for operators the shire areas of the UK, covering all areas outside our major cities.
The 2014 Results
Gold Award Winner
Reading Buses is proud to keeping Reading moving with its network of vividly-coloured buses and an amazing team of more than 400 customer-facing staff. While running a fleet of 150 plus vehicles, the company places customers at the heart of everything it does. Despite challenges of town redevelopment and road works, the company has continued to innovate both commercially and operationally and provide a very high quality of service, evidenced by a 94% overall customer satisfaction rate, the best in England, in the recent Passenger Focus surveys, all of which impressed the judges. The company's proactive relationships with its local authority, customers and staff, and its commitment to environmental initiatives, not least in its major investment in both electric hybrid and gas buses, also shone out.
Silver Award Winner
Since registering a commercial network in Crawley in 2001, Metrobus have seen unprecedented growth, including the introduction of the highly praised 'Fastway' service. The company now operates more than 150 buses throughout West Sussex, Surrey and Kent, and is proud of its reputation for quality, investment and customer service, confirmed by a 91% satisfaction rate in the latest Passenger Focus surveys. The company's continuing ability to grow bus use substantially through simple networks with increased frequencies in towns like Horsham and Crawley where previous operators had progressively reduced service levels appealed to the judges. Use of social media and new technology, its customer service training course 'Going the Extra Mile', and policies on flexible working for staff and attracting new employees from ethnic minorities also stood out.
Bronze Award Winner
morebus, part of Go South Coast, has carried out major rebranding over the last two years to produce a high-quality network throughout Bournemouth and Poole. The modernisation of the previous brand and the change of emphasis in its approach to staff, customers and the service it provides have led to substantial growth in patronage of between 8% and 15%, and changed public perception towards the bus as a mode of travel. The judges were particularly impressed by the company's emphasis on the bus stop as its 'shop window', high visibility jackets for staff branded 'ask me more', its close relationships with stakeholders over services provided and minimising the implications of funding cuts, and its developing staff training and recognition programme.
First York has undergone a significant transformation over the last 12 months with a new network, reduced fares, improved reliability and punctuality, and a renewed vigour in focussing on its customers. These ingredients have led to a recipe of substantial increase in passenger numbers, with 15,000 more journeys being made each week on the network of more than 100 vehicles. The judges were especially impressed by First York's 'Ambassadors in Action' programme to encourage drivers to take ownership of customer service issues and its close relationship with the City of York that has resulted in significant Better Bus Areas funding for public transport in the city.
Travel de Courcey
Travel de Courcey is a family business that has grown substantially in a short time, and now operates more than 130 vehicles from three depots across the Midlands, across Coventry, Warwickshire and Leicestershire, with 300 plus staff. Traditional values coupled with industry-leading levels of service, technological innovation and a firm focus on the environment have enabled Travel De Courcey to develop into a company recognised as one of the Stock Exchange's 'Top 1,000 Companies to Inspire Great Britain'. The judges were particularly impressed by the company's emphasis on customers and other stakeholders, such as its 'Heroes' awards for staff celebrating their achievements where photos and summary of why they are a 'hero' are displayed on buses.
Who could be nominated?
This award was open to bus companies operating service networks wholly or mainly outside the major conurbations.
… and by whom?
We welcomed nominations from customers, local authorities, user groups or bus operators. Self-nomination is acceptable.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
The results were determined on the basis of the quality of the submissions, which need to:
- Show how the operator maintains and improves customer relations. For example how it uses:
- customer satisfaction surveys
- suggestion and complaint handling procedures
- customer newsletters
- State whether it has policies for specific customer groups, for example recognising disability and diversity
- State whether the company resolved any issues by reference to the Bus Appeals Body within the last three years prior to entry. The issues and the outcome need to be described
- Provide evidence of the company’s employee relations policies, including:
- equal opportunities
- employee development programmes.
- Provide statistics on timekeeping and lost mileage
- State any Traffic Commissioners’ action in the three years prior to entry and describe the company’s responses
- Provide information to demonstrate the financial sustainability of their activities. This could come, for example, from the most recent audited accounts for the two years prior to nomination and include:
- Capital investment: amount per £1,000 turnover; changes in fleet age profile
- Commercial performance: % operating profit margin
- Movement in reserves.
- Demonstrate the company’s approach to risk assessment in all its activities including:
- a commentary on Health and Safety issues for the past year, supported by reports on any significant incidents,
- showing how the company assesses the impact of its activities on staff, passengers and the general public and has monitoring and control measures to reduce risk and the level of the residual risks.
- Describe the operator’s approach to environmental matters and social responsibility.
- Submit evidence on matters such as any partnership working, describe how the company responds to the policies of its local transport authority and how it fosters and contributes to the life of the communities it serves.
- Show how the operator contributes to sustaining and expanding the market for public transport in their area, including joint working with local authorities and integration schemes. This should be supported by statistics to confirm patronage and revenue trends, and statistical evidence of modal shift.
Shortlisted entries will be assessed by “mystery travellers” to monitor the standard of service delivery.