This is the "grand prix" of the UK Bus Awards.
Pre-eminent amongst bus operators in the UK, the UK Bus Operator of the Year, more than any other, delivers consistently excellent customer service. The company will demonstrate its success through sustained effort over the long term.
The crème-de-la-crème, the winner of the UK Bus Operator of the Year will be selected from the highest-scoring contestants of the awards for Top Independent Operator, Top Shire Operator and Top City Operator. There is no short-list aside from the lists for each of those categories, and the winner will be announced on 19 November.
All these awards use the same criteria, which are described under the individual categories. Separate entries are not therefore sought for this category.
In selecting the overall winner, the UK Bus Operator of the Year, judges considered the different circumstances of operators of varying sizes and operating terrains: as always, 'mystery traveller' assessments were very important and can often be the deciding factor.
2013 Winner: Stagecoach Manchester
Stagecoach Manchester carries some 100 million passengers a year on its network of services mainly to the south of the city, covering Tameside, Stockport, Trafford as well as Manchester and Salford - though it has recently expanded into the north of the conurbation with operations in Wigan and Middleton. The company runs from depots in Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester (2), Middleton, Stockport and Wigan. The company reports twelve straight years of patronage growth, and continues to invest in new vehicles, improved services and a range of exciting ticketing products. The business is working on the development of the UK's first ever commercial park and ride site, at Hazel Grove near Stockport. The strong company ethos for delivery of growth whilst maintaining services levels means that the business also consistantly achieves an overall customer satisfaction rating of 83 to 85% and runs at more than 98% reliability and 88% mid-route punctuality (measured independently).
The judges were impressed by a record of achievement which has completely transformed the company - and the reputation of the bus in Greater Manchester - in recent years. They noted the strong partnerships that have been achieved with local highway authorities and Transport for Greater Manchester, praised the company's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and were hugely impressed by a very strong performance in the mystery travelling.
Runner Up: Reading Buses
Winner of the Top Shire Operator competition for two years in a row, Reading continues to impress with its high operational standards, modern well-maintained fleet and consistent record of innovation. The company runs a fleet of 165 buses and carries some 16 million passengers a year, operating from its single depot in the town. In 2012/13, the number of passengers carried grew by over 3%, and the company recorded a passenger satisfaction score from Passenger Focus of 90%. The judges were hugely impressed by the range of the company's achievements and innovations, borne out by a strong mystery traveller score.