Technology and customer interests and expectations continue to develop at a rapid pace; the bus industry needs to embrace these changes, and react to the challenges coming from a changing mobility and social landscape. The New Horizons Award is intended to be a showcase for creativity and innovation.
As such, the judges were seeking nominations that could demonstrate development of an original or novel idea, or the application of a technological solution, that achieved one or more of the following:
- improved the image of the bus
- stimulated interest in, or desire for, the bus product
- improved the viability or efficiency of the industry
This Award is made for the innovation or technological application which, in the opinion of the judges, most contributes to the improvement of the bus product. Evidence of quantification of the benefits achieved or expected is essential.
Winner, Gold Award
ArrivaClick – Arriva UK Bus
Arriva launched ArrivaClick, an on-demand high specification minibus service in Sittingbourne, Kent, in March. It is an intelligent and flexible service where the passenger dictates the journey schedule via a smartphone app. The service does not follow fixed routes, but takes customers to their destinations via the shortest route. The backend technology allows passengers to be picked up and dropped off in an endless stream, without taking riders out of their way to accommodate others, enabling the carrying of a high volume of riders while using many less vehicles utilised by other on-demand platforms. The customer requests a pick-up location and destination in the app and ArrivaClick instantly provides an ETA and price. Once the customer accepts the journey, a virtual bus stop is created. Customers can pre-plan their journeys or they can request in real-time. They receive an SMS alert two minutes before their minibus arrives and they can track their vehicle en-route, as well as contact their driver directly in case of difficulty. The system is cashless, meaning there is no need to cause delays by paying the driver. High specification Mercedes minibuses are used which provide comfortable seating, charging points and free WiFi. ArrivaClick has seen tremendous growth in its first three months due to a targeted marketing and growth strategy, and is set to scale-up in the near future.
Although probably not a replacement for cutting bus services as the system can only be used with a smartphone app, the judges thought that this great has great potential and could tap into a new market of young professionals and be a good filler for smaller towns and rural areas that do not have bus services or that run at unsuitable times.
Winner, Silver Award
Technology and innovation to make the bus best – Reading Buses
Reading Buses is making the bus the clear transport of choice through innovation and technological development. It recognises that customers have choices; be it travelling by car, taxi, bike or walking, or even not travelling at all and using online shopping. Through focussing on all the details, no matter how small, and investing in people and technology Reading Buses has bucked industry trends for patronage to become one of the few networks in growth with 12% more customers and 9% more revenue in the past year. Always at the forefront with it brightly coloured route-branded buses, the company has launched innovations such as social seating, books and umbrellas to borrow, and even Lego to play with. Reading Buses has operated gas powered buses since 2013, the same year it launched a smartcard scheme, followed mTicketing last year and becoming the first full network outside London to offer contactless payments this year. Customer satisfaction scores are in the top three nationally. Reading Buses is keeping its services at the forefront of urban mobility and breaking new ground to deliver benefits for the whole bus industry.
The judges praised Reading Buses for its holistic approach, bringing the benefits of many available technologies to all areas of its service.
Winner, Bronze Award
VAMOOZ – Transdev Blazefield
Transdev Blazefield’s VAMOOZ is a flexible and demand-led product with two core principles; go where you choose, and the more that ride, the less you pay. Customers use the VAMOOZ app to suggest routes for a regular service or one-off trips to events or destinations. Once a vehicle has been allocated and initial price set, the price per person reduces as more customers book onto the service. VAMOOZ has also helped identify several new routes which have become regular services. Transdev Blazefield has partnered with the company that created the technology and the two have developed it together. It is hoped that the system can be rolled out to other bus operators elsewhere in the country.
Although a relatively new scheme awaiting results over a longer period, the judges thought the scheme was sufficiently innovative to be the Bronze Winner.
Passenger – Passenger Technology Group
For bus users, Passenger can create a seamless multi-modal Real Time and route planning experience. For bus operators, Passenger is a transport data management platform that uses m-Ticketing and passenger information apps to learn about trends in behaviour and influence passenger decision making. By giving operators the tools to analyse the data, they are empowered to engage more effectively with their customers and support them in their journeys. Passenger provides an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction, strengthen brand loyalty, develop marketing and pricing initiatives and introduce operating efficiencies such as the faster boarding times and reduction of cash handling costs that m-Ticketing offers. The Passenger platform includes Android and iPhone apps, and supports Apple Pay alongside debit and credit card payments. Another offering is Passenger Cloud which allows interaction with smartwatches and voice assistants such as Amazon Echo.
The judges praised this white label solution that allows small operators to narrow the technology gap and offer what the big groups have produced themselves.
Slide Bristol – RATP Dev UK
Launched in July 2016 by RATP Dev UK, Slide Bristol is a bookable, shared ride to work service that is akin to a small, on-demand bus operating at peak hours, Monday to Friday. Customers book their journey using an app. An algorithm calculates the fastest route based on real-time traffic data and other passenger pick-ups. Regular updates from the app keep customers up-to-date with their driver’s arrival time. At the anticipated pick-up time, the customer goes to a virtual bus stop a few minutes’ walk away. Slide has been recognised as a convenient and affordable transport solution in Bristol and has managed to attract car drivers to a shared transport mode. In surveys, customers have rated Slide 4.8 out of 5 for service and 4.9 for drivers. Ninety-eight percent of Slide users would recommend it to a friend.
Who could be nominated?
This category was open to industry suppliers, operators and authorities either separately or in conjunction with one another.
… and by whom?
Nominations were welcomed from all eligible organisations and self-nomination was acceptable.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
Entries were judged on the basis of the quality of the submissions which needed to:
- Provide a full description of the project, describing how it works and how it was introduced
- Explain how has it made a difference
- Supply evidence of the overall trend(s) affected by the project, as appropriate, in:
- customer satisfaction
- cost and efficiency levels
- State whether the results are likely to be sustainable
- Describe any future plans for further development
- Include any relevant supporting material
- Describe how the impact of the project was measured
- Describe how staff were informed and trained and the impact, if any, that the project has had on their jobs
- State whether any partners were involved and, if so, describe their roles
- Describe the mechanisms put in place for public consultation (where appropriate) and for dealing with comment and feedback.