Top Shire Operator

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The award for operators the shire areas of the UK, covering all areas outside our major cities.

The 2015 Results

Winner, Gold Award - Reading Buses

Reading Transport prides itself on constantly striving to deliver the best possible services and proactively championing bus use. Its passionate and engaged team aim to be pioneering, harnessing the latest innovations and technology. Last year saw its biggest route and frequency expansion in recent times, to meet growing customer and economic needs of Reading. Revenue has increased by 12% and patronage by 10%. Recent innovations include a new website and app, trial and rollout of the first contactless bus-ticketing system outside London, on-ticket machine screen Virtual Running Boards, driver 'self-service' functionality for rosters and investigating how the company's vehicle maintenance operations could use 3D printing.

The judges noted the company's strong focus on, and investment in, vehicles and comparison vehicle trials, which are popular in the community where people can top up their smartcards and where strong branding works. The judges noted in particular the success of Vroom which received impressive national news coverage and was very customer focused.

Winner, Silver Award - trentbarton

trentbarton says it is passionate about delivering a high quality inter-urban network of 278 buses across the East Midlands and puts down its success to what it describes as its exceptional drivers which it says are at the heart of its customer facing approach. "We aren't resting on our laurels, with fleet investment, innovation and improving the customer experience we are working hard to enhance our reputation as being the really good bus company," it adds.

The judges welcomed trentbarton's pioneering approach over the years and strong focus on marketing, noting other operators were adopting a similar approach.

 

Winner, Bronze Award - Stagecoach South West

Stagecoach South West prides itself on continuing to go from strength to strength and showing that the South West is far from 'sleepy', but is a region undergoing a sustained period of economic investment and development as well as strong growth in the traditional tourist market. The company revamped its Torbay bus network in May 2014 with a brand new route number 22, combining other services with a new town centre route to provide new connections between local attractions and hotels. After discussions with Torbay Youth Parliament, the company introduced a Termrider season ticket for those aged 18 or under at 10% less than a 13-week Megarider, while other ticketing initiatives include simplifying fares on the Ex-Citi network and ú1 child for any fare paying adult at any time.

The judges were impressed by the quality of the company's marketing and its embracing of the tourist market and work by tourist people such as 'Gold Stuff'. Stagecoach South west has picked up the former FirstGroup and Western Greyhound services well. The judges also noted the way the company has embedded itself within the business community over a large area. It has made some services which did not work so well into a success, and also carried out fare reductions.

Finalist - Metrobus

Metrobus registered a commercial network in Crawley in 2001 when the existing operator declared that operations in the town were unviable. The last 14 years have seen unprecedented growth, investment in fleet, depot infrastructure and new technology. The company is an integral part of life in Sussex, Surrey and Kent, with an enviable reputation for quality, investment and customer service. Metrobus has seen patronage growth of 110% between 2001 and 2013 in Crawley and the bus services serving Gatwick Airport. Over 13,000 passenger journeys are made using the key smartcard each weekday and 3,000 tickets are sold a week on its app. Year on year growth is currently 4.3%. Metrobus prides itself on its empowerment of staff who are trusted to carry out responsibilities to the full which has lead to management being very pro-active and who have a passion for the company and its service.

The judges felt Metrobus is almost the unsung heroes of the industry, which is very good commercially and operationally over a large coverage area of Surrey, Kent and Sussex. Due to Gatwick Airport, it is one of the few operators that offer 24/7 telephone service and in Crawley, where previous operators have walked away, it has made operations a success. It is the first to bring out a rail/bus smartcard.

Finalist - more bus

more bus is proud of having the highest bus growth in the UK outside of London in Poole and Bournemouth, and continues to concentrate on its customers, staff and innovation. Having repositioned the company from Wilts & Dorset over the last three years, morebus operated its M1 service on Christmas Day for the first time in 2013, providing a vital connection and extension of the service to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital - a step which was repeated last Christmas. Customer numbers have increased 28% on the year before and there are plans for more improvements in 2015.

The judges were impressed by the significant improvements which the company had undergone.

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 short-list was determined on the basis of the quality of the submissions, which needed 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
    • Submit evidence on matters such as any partnership working, describe how the company responds to the policies of its 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 authorities and integration schemes. This should be supported by statistics to confirm patronage and revenue trends and statistical evidence of modal shift.
    • Provide statistics on timekeeping and lost mileage
    • Provide evidence of the company’s employee relations policies, including:
      • diversity
      • equal opportunities
      • training
      • employee development programmes.
    • State whether or not the company resolved any issues by reference to the Bus Appeals Body within the last three years prior to entry. If so, the issues and the outcome need to be described
    • State whether or not there has been any Traffic Commissioner action in the three years prior to entry or whether any investigation, disciplinary hearing or known VOSA report is ongoing at the time of entry.  If so, provide a full account of the matter(s).
    • 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.
  • Describe the operator’s approach to improving or promoting the accessibility of their product for people with mobility difficulties

Shortlisted entries will be assessed by “mystery travellers” to monitor the standard of service delivery.