2017 The Putting Passengers First Award

Delivery of excellence in customer service is vital to future of the bus industry. This Award is designed to promote its delivery and improvement by rewarding excellence, best practice and innovation in this essential area.

The judges are looking for:

  • An organisation that broke genuinely new ground in either:
  • the delivery of customer satisfaction, or
  • engagement with and gaining feedback from customers
  • A particular creative solution, developed by an organisation or team, which had vastly improved the passenger experience, or
  • An initiative that had improved the journey experience for a particular passenger group.

Ideally, the winner of the award will set ambitions for the future and thus blaze a trail for others in the industry to follow.

Results 2017

Winner, Gold Award

Robin Hood Network Smart Ticketing – Nottingham City Council

Using the smart card to pay a fare - less hassle and much faster!

The Robin Hood Network provides a comprehensive suite of multi-operator, multi-modal tickets and smart cards for travel across Greater Nottingham for adults, students and juniors. The latest development is the Robin Hood Pay As You Go travel card which is the first fully-integrated, capped-fare, multi-modal, ITSO, smart ticketing system in the UK, differing from London due to the need to accommodate the deregulated environment and operators’ own tickets. The Robin Hood Network is a partnership between public transport operators in Greater Nottingham, including bus, tram and rail operators; in fact 13 different partners have come together to deliver the scheme. In the first 15 months, 10,000 passengers are travelling more because the PAYG card makes it easier and 38% of users now use more than one transport operator for the same reason. Half of users have switched from paper tickets and 2.5% of users have switched from their cars to public transport due to the new ticketing scheme.

The judges commented that this was a big project to deliver and were pleased to see bus operators and agencies working together and producing genuine multi-operator pricing, making it a worthy Gold Winner.

Winner, Silver Award

£1 flat fare for 18s and under – Go North East

Promoting the new cheaper tickets and the App with which to buy them.

Targeting an audience of students, apprentices and children under the age of 19, Go North East led a multi-faceted marketing campaign to launch an anytime, anywhere flat ú1 fare last summer. Partnerships were formed with colleges across the area and the campaign involved digital advertising, events in high footfall areas and a cinema advertisement screend across the region. Simplifying a confusing fare structure and making it cheaper for all young people to use buses, not only students, has resulted in an increase of annual sales by 65% and passenger numbers by 60%. By encouraging this audience to use the bus now, Go North East hopes that they will continue using the bus as they progress into adulthood.

Good passenger and revenue growth with this scheme were noted by the judges, who were also impressed that the system works without requiring young passengers to provide ID.


Bronze Award, Belfast Airport Express – Translink

Modern vehicles and an eye-catching stop are key elements of the new service.

Translink’s Airport Express 300 service between Belfast city centre and the airport has been transformed over the past year. Ten new, specially livered, accessible double decker buses have been introduced on the route, with a/v displays in French, German and Spanish. Forty staff have undergone customer excellence training through the World Host programme, becoming tourism ambassadors for Northern Ireland. Translink worked closely with Belfast International Airport, Tourism NI and Visit Belfast to develop a welcoming and efficient gateway service, built on research, stakeholder engagement, innovative ticketing and service excellence training. Customers can use mTicketing paying with PayPal and avoiding difficulties with changing currency. Ryanair passengers can book the flight and travel to Belfast city centre in one transaction. The re-vamped service has seen growth of 25% carrying 100,000 extra passengers a year.

The judges noted good employee engagement with all drivers attending a Welcome Host course, alongside significant passenger growth.


Passenger App and One Hour Ticket – Yellow Buses

Promoting the App providing information and ticketing on the Yellow Buses network.

Bournemouth based Yellow Buses has worked with local app developers Base to help create one of the highest rated travel applications in the industry, appropriately named Move. Users can buy tickets using Apple pay or a credit/debit card, plan journeys, track them in real time and see any disruptions. There are also special promotional prices that only app users can access. One of these is The One Hour Ticket which allows passengers to buy a ticket on the mobile app, activate it prior to getting on the bus and travel anywhere on the network for the next hour. The ticket has been very well received allowing customers to hop on an off services within the hour without having to buy a more expensive return ticket.

The judges noted that the one hour transfer ticket is only available when using Yellow Buses’ app, which addresses revenue leakage. The app was also well received.

Who could be nominated?

Entries were welcomed from operators, partnerships, tourist agencies, authorities and others specifying and securing services.

… and by whom?

Nominations were accepted from all eligible organisations and self-nomination was acceptable.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

Decisions are based on the quality of the submissions made and the extent to which they address the criteria. Therefore, nominations were required to:

  • Describe the project or organisation that is being submitted for the award
  • Show how the nominee has achieved one or more of the following;
    • delivery of outstanding standards of service to bus passengers
    • improvement in the standards of its service to all its passengers
    • improvements to the journey experience of particular groups of passengers including those with restricted mobility
    • engaged with customers through research or direct contact in a way which encouraged and delivered genuine feedback.
  • Show why the nomination is innovative and likely to influence others in the industry.

In assessing and comparing entries, judges took into account the nominee’s underlying approach to customer service standards which were judged on the criteria set out below:

  • Employee training and involvement: the extent to which staff are involved in the delivery of excellent customer service and in the development of the standards by which the organisation judges itself
  • Service delivery: how the organisation goes about achieving consistency of delivery and measurement of standards
  • Recovery: how the nominee goes about restoring the customer confidence when performance falls short of the expected quality.
  • Customer information and contact: the approaches used by the organisation to ensure that customers are:
    • treated with respect and integrity
    • kept informed
    • provided with easily accessible points of contact
    • provided with clearly documented, published and auditable complaints procedures.
  • Customer research and engagement: the extent to which a company or organisation:
    • seeks to discover the needs and expectations of its customers with some indication of the results of such a strategy
    • bases its strategy on customer feedback
    • measures its achievements (and/or failures) by research and monitoring and uses results to modify or improve its approach.
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