Winning New Customers 2010

This award was designed with the assistance of the Department for Transport to recognise radical initiatives, including ticketing, safety and security and anything else that increase patronage and demonstrably attract car users to leave their car at home and use the bus.

We are particularly looking for schemes that aim to achieve modal shift, so the category is broader than the ‘Bus Marketing Campaign’ Award. The winning entry will be the one which, in the opinion of the judges, most contributed to improved perception of the bus in the eyes of non-users.

Winners: Trent Barton, the nines - the really good way to win new customers

The judges admired Trent's clever promotion on the ninesOn the back of the economic downturn, and serving a hinterland dominated by traditional mining territories, “the nines” project is a strong development package for routes linking Derby, Mansfield and  and Sutton-in-Ashfield. The project comprised a £1.3million investment in new highly specified buses, the introduction of faster links to popular city centres and a commercial Sunday timetable, delivered by a team of exceptional drivers and local brand mangers. The project triggered an exceptional wave of customer growth.

The judges praised highly this clever and stylish project, which had clearly been very successful in building patronage and reversing earlier decline on the group of routes which serve the corridor between Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield and between these towns and Derby. A classic combination of investment in new vehicles, rebranding and service simplification enabled a strong promotional campaign to deliver spectacular growth of up to 97% on some stretches of route, prompting no less than two further sets of frequency improvements since the initial launch in 2009. The judges particularly praised the involvement of staff in the form of the driving team and the local brand managers.

Runners Up: Kent County Council and partners, ASK for a joined up Ashford - Ashford Bus Route Improvements

Promoting improvements - the Ashford partnershipThis scheme was born out of the Quality Bus Partnership which exists in Ashford, and involves Stagecoach in East Kent, Ashford Borough Council, Ashford’s Future Partnership Board and Kent County Council. Their shared objective is to build a public transport network which offers an attractive alternative to car use as the town makes plans to more than double its population between now and 2029. With co-ordinated investment in vehicles, routes and bus infrastructure, the QBP partners have delivered growth of 35%.



Highly Commended:

PlatinumMK route 300, Arriva the Shires and partners

A high quality bus promoting the new 300 serviceStrong partnership was at the heart of this project, which uses high quality vehicles and infrastructure to deliver a bus service that can be in place for, and grow with, land use developments in the city. Project partners include Arriva, Milton Keynes Council and the Milton Keynes Partnership, together with the Council of Voluntary Organisations and developers. The judges felt that this was an excellent example of having buses in place ready to serve new developments as they are built, so forming habits of use and providing a meaningful and attractive alternative to the car from Day One.

Unirider, Stagecoach Manchester

Clever promotion of Unirider tickets in ManchesterManchester’s universities have a major impact on the local population and economy, and having attractive and well-used bus services to meet student travel needs is vital in enabling the city’s highway network to cope with such a large influx of people every term.

For over seven years, Stagecoach Manchester has offered the Unirider ticket, a product which has been taken up and developed by the group as its national brand for student tickets.  The judges liked the structured, long-term approach to marketing and promoting the brand, which has enabled sales to grow by over 400% since the original, UKBA award-winning product launch back in 2000.

£1 to town, Reading Transport

Promoting the £1 fare where it matters - at the bus stopBy reducing prices dramatically on two routes, Reading Buses increased passenger numbers so dramatically that revenue has gone up and is still growing. Cumulative growth of up to 200% has been experienced. £1 to town was introduced to two sections of the town’s network where patronage was low.

The judges praised this promotion, which capitalised on research and customer feedback to promote the use of local bus services for shorter journeys, so reducing social exclusion and discouraging car use in areas of the town already heavily congested.

Judges’ Overall Verdict

The judges were impressed by the entries which were selected to go forwards for the final; the best of the field are certainly making a major contribution to getting motorists out of their cars and onto buses for a greater proportion of their travel.
However, the judges also felt that too many of the other entries were repeats of entries for other categories which then did not specifically address the criteria for this award. In particular, too many entries either ignored or failed to address the key question of modal shift.

Who could be nominated?

This category was open to operators, authorities, partnerships or other organisations participating in the securing, marketing or promotion of registered local bus services.

… and by whom?

We welcomed nominations from customers, authorities, user groups or bus operators. Self-nomination is acceptable.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

The judges were looking for successful innovative promotional ideas which get the message about bus services over to the target market by advertising, PR activity or sales promotion schemes.  Entries needed to demonstrate:

  • development of an original or novel idea, which breaks new ground in promoting the bus
  • the extent to which the initiative:
  • informs potential customers
  • stimulates interest in, or desire for, the product
  • provides customers with access to the product
  • the objectives achieved and/or the lessons learned.

Entrants needed to:

  • Supply statistical evidence showing the results of the initiative in terms of patronage, revenue or other indicators, plus modal shift.
  • State whether the results are likely to be sustainable
  • Describe their work in the project to improve or promote the accessibility of their product for people with mobility difficulties
  • Describe any future plans for further development.
  • Include any relevant supporting material.

Inclusion of statistical evidence, particularly of modal shift achieved, was regarded as essential by the judges.

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