2018 Top Shire Operator

Top Shire Operator sponsored by Ticketer

Winner, Gold Award, – Go South Coast

As last year’s proud winner, Go South Coast has actively continued to improve and make its customers’ journeys as seamless as possible. In the last 12 months, the company has continued to develop and enhance its routes, especially where other operators have pulled out, giving customers more choice and achieving market growth, which bucks the national trend. Contactless payments and a new ticketing app have been introduced and Go South Coast has invested in new buses. The company claims to have the cheapest weekly ticket in the country. The latest addition to the Go South Coast family, Thamesdown, has seen a complete re-brand from an outdated municipal to the modern forward thinking operator of Swindon’s Bus Company.

Winner, Silver Award, – Reading Buses

With its network of vividly-branded, brightly-coloured buses, together with improvement in excellent customer service and innovation, Reading Buses’ success story continues. Whether it’s drivers, high quality branding and marketing, strong customer focus or simply attention to every single detail, the company cares about the communities it serves. Over the past 12 months Reading Buses has expanded, rapidly moving from being a local, to a regional bus company, having taken over routes from other operators and won contracts beyond Reading boundaries. The company has demonstrated the agility to do big things while showing flexibility, energy and passion to make things happen quickly, to a high standard, and positively changing customer perceptions – all while keeping its existing show on the road! Despite ever challenging congestion, Reading Buses is outstripping industry trends with 5% customer growth. Whether it’s innovating with new ideas, becoming a flagship beacon for change with Open Data, achieving Earned Recognition, inspiring its people to be better or investing in ultra-green buses, the company is always finding new ways to delight its customers and champion bus use. It aims to be the best bus company in Britain, and a role model for best practice across Europe and beyond!

Winner, Bronze Award, – Metrobus

Metrobus started operating from its Crawley Depot in 2001 when the existing operator declared that operations in the town unviable. Since then it has grown the network from 47 buses to 151. Four services operate, commercially, 24 hours a day. Metrobus has embraced new technology fitting wifi and USB charging sockets to its buses, as well making use of GPS satellite tracking to improve reliability of services and help customers know where their bus is. The company has moved on from just accepting cash, having introduced smartcards and mobile apps as a more convenient way to pay. Metrobus has seen unprecedented growth, investment in fleet and depot infrastructure. The depot has an enviable reputation for quality, investment and customer service.

Finalist, – Oxford Bus Company

The past 12 months have seen unprecedented progress at Oxford Bus Company. The Park & Ride service was re-launched to support the opening of the new Westgate shopping centre, with several features of the route improved in response to customer research. The City route branding exercise was completed, and contactless payments were rolled out across the entire network, accounting for 25% of total revenue within the first year of launch. A new and much improved mobile app was launched using QR code technology, and a partnership with Via Transportation was formed to deliver the new PickMeUp service, launched on 25 June this year. Numerous community partnerships were formed and existing relationships developed, and in December 2017 the company acquired a new subsidiary in the form of City Sightseeing Oxford. ú1.45m of funding was won from Oxford City Council, via the Clean Bus Technology Fund to support further environmental improvements, including the city’s first electric double deck vehicles which will be introduced to the Sightseeing fleet in 2018.

Finalist, – Stagecoach East Scotland

Stagecoach East Scotland is one of the largest bus operators in Scotland, responsible for over 32 million passenger journeys last year through a comprehensive network across Angus, Fife and Perthshire, delivered by 1,300 employees and 470 vehicles. Operating in challenging markets, growth is achieved through network development, ongoing marketing excellence and strong stakeholder engagement delivering infrastructure benefits. Investment this year has delivered increased capacity, new state-of-the-art vehicles, improved workshops and staff welfare facilities. Despite severe winter weather impacting patronage, revenue and operations customers were extremely positive in their praise of the company’s hard work during this period. Stagecoach East Scotland remains dedicated to delivering safe and comfortable journeys via a seamless customer experience through frontline staff and digital channels. To enhance that experience, the company is working with external partners to improve customer experience as well as increase staff engagement and satisfaction.