2017 Top National Bus Depot

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This Award is designed to recognise and reward high standards of operation and customer care by bus depots and garages throughout the UK.

The Award is open to bus depots or garages that operate buses on local bus services outside London. For the purposes of this award, a bus garage is defined as an authorised operating base at which vehicles are both stabled overnight and maintained.

Results 2017

Winner, Gold Award

Eastleigh – Go South Coast (Bluestar)

Members of the team at Eastleigh depot.

Go South Coast brand Bluestar operates the Eastleigh depot in Hampshire. As well as local bus services, the depot also operates some coach services for National Express and has recently been award the company’s Gold Award for the way it cleans and maintains the coaches. A new bus wash uses less water and utilises rainwater collected form the depot roof. Waste collected from vehicles such as cans and newspapers is now being recycled. Staff facilities have been vastly improved with newly refurbished rest rooms and facilities at the depot including free wifi. All staff are paid above the living wage and are given opportunities to train and develop their skills, as well as other benefits such as free bus travel. The Star of the Month scheme leads into the Employee of the Year finale with a top prize of ú3 000 and two weeks additional holiday.

The judges were impressed with the high levels of employee engagement, citing numerous staff initiatives including apprenticeship schemes, at this depot which has resulted in a very good operation for its customers.

Winner, Silver Award

Shrewsbury – Arriva Midlands

Investing in the future - an overview of the modern depot in Shrewsbury opened by Arriva.

Arriva Midlands’ Shrewbury garage is a modern depot with a motivated workforce who pull out all the stops to produce the best results. Dedicated to achieving excellence, the team works hard to sustain an impressive business performance while keeping costs under control and providing high-quality, reliable services. The Shrewsbury depot leads the way in reducing waste through recycling and energy efficiency, with drivers adopting a progressive driving style to minimise fuel consumption and maximise passenger safety and comfort. Depot staff are enthusiastic and hard-working with a number of initiatives in place to ensure that they feel appreciated and included in management decisions and awards in place to celebrate excellence. Over the past year, the depot has maintained a 100% MOT pass rate and controllable lost mileage of only 0.09%, so it’s hardly surprising that the garage achieved the best engineering audit in the company.

The judges were impressed with this well written entry with plenty of evidence of a very well run operation.

Winner, Bronze Award

Crawley – Metrobus

Keeping the vehicles fit for purpose: maintaining Crawley depot's fleet.

Metrobus started operating from its Crawley Depot in 2001 when the existing operator declared that operations in the town unviable. The last 16 years have seen unprecedented growth, investment in fleet, depot infrastructure and new technology. The depot has an enviable reputation for quality, investment and customer service. Routes vary from inter-urban services connecting small villages to areas of employment or commerce to four routes with 24 hour services to Gatwick Airport. Gatwick is the area’s biggest employer and 30% of local staff now use Metrobus services to get to work with the company operating over 33 buses an hour to the airport. Given the amount of competition for staff, Metrobus has worked hard on retaining staff with initiatives such as free bus travel to staff and their families alongside heavily discounted rail travel, discounts at high street stores, a six monthly on-site health check and very flexible working patterns aimed at parents with children.

Crawley has maintained its consistently high standard over a number of years. The judges picked out good employee engagement and flexible work patterns.


Luton – Arriva Midlands

Keeping the wheels turning in Luton - staff planning the day's operations

In 2015 Arriva Midlands’ Luton depot underwent a transformation. A new management team including, a new General Manager, quickly oversaw a huge improvement in processes, practices, staff engagement and facilities. The network of bus services also underwent major change, in fact the biggest review of routes in 25 years. Services are now more frequent with better weekend coverage and new vehicles were introduced. Customer satisfaction improved, employee satisfaction improved, lost mileage reduced, profit increased and passenger growth was over 5% for 2015. In 2016, all the ground work that was carried out in 2015 continued and in last year network growth was 16% with some core routes showing growth of over 30%. The depot has gone through a revolution – or should be a revoLuton!

The judges were pleased to see a new management team had put the heart and soul back into the depot as well as growing the network after a major review.


Falls Road – Metro (CityBus)

Members of the team at the Belfast depot.

The Falls depot is one of four sites comprising the Metro network, Belfast’s sole provider of urban bus transport. One of the largest employers in West Belfast (one of the most socially deprived areas in UK) it fulfils a role far beyond the provision of excellent public transport services. Given its location, the depot has a fraught history. Viewed as part of the state, staff and vehicles were routinely targeted during the troubles with sections of the community refusing to use any bus services. However, the pride, resilience and commitment of staff has prevailed, evidenced in meaningful initiatives which improve the depot’s performance and its place as a valued and integral part of the community. Initiatives include the Safety Bus which visits over 100 local schools each year highlighting safety issues and presenting bus travel in a positive light, and the depot’s involvement in Feile an Phobail, which claims to be Europe’s largest community arts festival. As one of the managers said: “We have gone from a time of burning buses to playing ‘Music on the Metro’!”

The judges praised the excellent work done by the Falls Road depot in a very difficult operating environment, whilst keeping ridership levels strong.

St Andrews – Stagecoach East Scotland

A wide-angled view of the operation in St Andrews, home of a famous university as well as golf.

St Andrews depot, operated in the busy university town by Stagecoach East Scotland, runs with a fleet of 29 vehicles and operates local town services as well as routes across Fife and into Dundee. With excellent reliability statistics, the depot’s efficient operations are a testament to the professionalism of the strong staff base and high levels of morale at the site. The MOT pass rate has stayed at 100% and punctuality has increased to 98.2% over the past year. Various activities are planned at St Andrews depot for staff. Football tournaments have existed for many years for staff and family members and continue to engage large numbers of employees. In association with other depots across Stagecoach East Scotland, periodic golf outings take place and a regular social calendar is organised by the administrative team. It is often said that St Andrews is a large family and the spirit and enjoyment they portray in their work demonstrates how much they enjoy their job, demonstrated by 40% of drivers having been with the company for over 10 years.

The family atmosphere at the St Andrew’s depot and evidence of a good team working together were praised by the judges.

Who could be nominated?

In order to qualify to enter this award, a bus depot or garage must have an allocation of not less than 10 vehicles and operate not less than 500,000 kilometres per year on registered local bus services.

… and by whom?

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

Criteria and Entry Requirements

The award will be made to the garage which, in the opinion of the judges, delivers the highest operational standards to its customers. Entries must contain a full set of data against the following Key Performance Indicators:

  • Scheduled Annual Mileage
  • Lost Mileage, absolute and as a percentage of scheduled
  • Punctuality statistics (Number of departures operated, proportion measured and the percentage measured as “on time”, i.e. not more than one minute early and five minutes late)
  • Staff turnover (all grades, including engineering staff)
  • Annual PSV Test pass rate
  • Details of any warning or prohibition notices issued by VOSA in the previous twelve months
  • Customer Satisfaction and Mystery Traveller Survey results (if undertaken)
  • Driver Quality Monitoring Data (where undertaken)
  • Statistics regarding the volume and nature of public complaints

In addition, each entry needed to contain a submission concerning the depot/garage’s own work to:

  • maintain and improve operational standards
  • make contributions to local and global environmental objectives
  • develop and maintain a team spirit within the garage (e.g. sports and social clubs, etc)
  • play a positive role within the communities served (charity work, community involvement, sponsorship programmes, etc).

Finally, submissions were required to state whether or not there has been any Traffic Commissioner action in the three years prior to entry relating to the depot’s operations, or whether any investigation, disciplinary hearing or known VOSA report is ongoing at the time of entry. If so, provide a full account of the matter(s).

Short-listed garages are subject to Mystery Travelling and other spot checks during the judging process. Judges reserve the right to request additional data, for audit purposes. Any such data will be subject to the strictest confidentiality arrangements.

Note that it is a condition of entry that any prize awarded should be collected by at least one member of front-line staff at the UKBA Presentation Ceremony. The winning garage will receive a cash prize which must be used to improve staff facilities at the garage.

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