The award for the operation of high quality express coach services.
Scheduled express coach services are a part of our transport system, alongside local bus services and the rail network. Services to airports, tourist attractions and for students, for example, can all act to reduce car travel by as much, if not more than, other forms of public transport.
The growth of competition in the market, together with the continued development of brands such as Green Line, Scottish Citylink, Megabus and National Express, shows that the express service sector is dynamic and plays an important part. The award is open to operators of services on their own account or who contract to others (e.g. National Express or Scottish Citylink).
The winner of the Express Coach Operation of the Year award will demonstrate delivery of consistently excellent customer service; the company will be sound financially, maintaining high operational and engineering standards, giving priority to the health and safety of passengers and staff through comprehensive risk management.
The Express Coach Operation of the Year demonstrates investment in fleet and operating staff, forms effective partnerships, identifies with and responds to the markets it serves and, through its quality of operation, continually strives to sustain and grow its market.
Stagecoach route X5
The X5 express coach service links Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge running up to every thirty minutes seven days a week. Stagecoach have been consistently innovating and investing in this popular service, recently replacing the fleet with 17 wheelchair accessible, air conditioned, leather seated, Wi-Fi enabled coaches.
Feedback and consultative arrangements involving both customers and staff in developing and fine tuning the product has led to an increase of over 150% in passenger numbers during the last five years.
Integrating with other modes of transport along its line of route, the X5 is clearly a unique and vital, first class cross-country express service.
The judges were unanimous in their decision to choose the X5 as the throughly deserving winner.
Green Line 757
Arriva the Shires & Essex Ltd
Green Line 757 is a 24 hour, 7 day a week operation offering express coach links between London Luton Airport, Luton and London Victoria via the M1 motorway with frequencies of up to four coaches an hour. Serving not only airline travellers, local people commuting to and from work or travelling for leisure purposes also form an important customer base.
Patronage growth of 35% in the last 2 years has led to the recent £4.5million investment in 16 new fully accessible coaches. With dedicated staff both at the Airport and Victoria coupled with a close working relationship with the ground operations at the Airport the 757 is heavily committed towards matching customer demand and service provision.
This impressive service is the flagship of the Green Line coaching brand, which has linked London with the Home Counties for nearly 80 years.
East Scotland Express Network
Stagecoach East Scotland
Stagecoach East Scotland Express services carry 95,000 people per week across Fife and as far as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. The routes are designed to encourage modal shift and connect various towns of Fife. With 29 brand new vehicles introduced in late 2007, many of the buses have leather seats and free WiFi access. Fife - Edinburgh routes also became carbon neutral in 2008.
First London & Berkshire
RailAir is the dedicated non-stop coach service between Reading and Heathrow Airport. With a passionate desire to build on 40 years worth of experience customer service is at the forefront of this successful brand. A fully commercial service, it has bettered its KPIs over the last year and the future looks even more promising.
444 Gloucester to London
Stagecoach in Gloucester
The 444 service from Gloucester to London (launched in June 2008) operates 49 return journeys a week on five new DDA compliant, down-seated, triaxle coaches. The service has received exceptional customer service feedback and consistently achieves excellent rankings in the operator league table. The company is able to continually improve customer comfort, safety and fuel efficiency through use of the innovative RIBAS system.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
Entries were judged on the quality of the submissions made, which were required to:
- Address the issue of customer relations:
- For own-account operators, explain how the company maintains and improves customer relations. Submissions should discuss, but not necessarily be limited to, the use of customer satisfaction surveys, suggestion and complaint handling procedures and customer newsletters
- For contracted operators, provide evidence of feedback on customer relations performance supplied by the operator’s clients if possible
- Explain the company’s approach to catering for specific customer groups, for example mobility impaired passengers
- Provide evidence of the operation’s employee relations policies, including:
- equal opportunities
- employee development programmes.
- Provide statistics on timekeeping and lost mileage
- Report any Traffic Commissioners’ action in the three years prior to entry and the operator’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 operator’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
- remarks explaining how the operator 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 the approach taken to transport integration, partnership working, response to the policies of local transport authorities on the route(s) and how it fosters and contributes to the life of the communities it serves.
- submit evidence by statistics to confirm patronage and revenue trends, and statistical evidence of modal shift.
Shortlisted entries are liable to be assessed by “mystery travellers” to measure the operators’ standard of service.