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 is selected annually from the highest-scoring contestants of the awards for Top Independent Operator, Top Shire Operator and Top City Operator. There is therefore no separate short-list for this category, and the winner announced at the Presentation Ceremony.
All these awards use the same criteria, which are described under the individual categories.
In selecting the overall winner, the UK Bus Operator of the Year, judges consider the different circumstances of operators of varying sizes and operating terrains: 'mystery traveller' assessments are very important and are often be a deciding factor.
Winner, Gold Award - Reading Buses
The combination of innovation, strong operational performance and award-winning marketing initiatives has delivered growth, strong partnerships and an engaged and well-motivated workforce. As a result, Reading has been a finalist in the Top Shire Operator for five years in a row, winning the award for three years in succession - leaving them well-placed in the contest for our 'grand prix' award.
The company's strong performance in the 'mystery travelling' in a challenging and congested operating environment meant that the judges had little hesitation in naming Reading Buses as the Gold Award winner in this category.
Winner, Silver Award - Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company
A combination of award-winning innovation, marketing campaigns and high operational standards has delivered a long record of outstanding growth in a congested city, winning genuine modal shift. Ninety percent of customers are satisfied with its bus services, according to Transport Focus results despite extensive city centre roadworks in recent months.
In a very close contest, the company scored very well indeed on the 'mystery travelling' and the judges felt that this mean that the Silver Award in this category was well-deserved.
Winner, Bronze Award - Safeguard Coaches
Family-owned Safeguard Coaches is a long-established operator in the town of Guildford in Surrey - heavily congested, with high levels of car ownership. Even so, the company impressed the judges by demonstrating year-on-year growth in passenger usage: this is being achieved by a continuous process of innovation and the delivery of quality in service with passion.
The judges were pleased that Safeguard's service quality was praised by the mystery travellers, helping to demonstrate that buses can and do play a vitally important role in providing a sustainable transport option in a congested county town such as Guildford.