2019 Top City Operator

Top City Operator sponsored by sponsored by INIT Innovations

Winner, Gold Award – Nottingham City Transport

It’s been a record 2 years of investment for NCT, with £42m invested on its fleet and infrastructure, upgrading its entire fleet to Euro VI. 130 brand new buses since 2017 and exhaust treatment systems fitted to 180 diesel buses has resulted in fleet emissions falling 90% and 8000 tonnes of CO2 and 70 tonnes of NOX emissions avoided in the last 12 months. Against English bus patronage outside London continuing to fall, NCT achieved commercial patronage growth of 1.3% on a stable network and is taking over two Park&Ride services commercially this year, which were at risk due to local authority budget pressures. Achieving 10 year high customer satisfaction scores across all 17 service features measured in 2018, buses turning up on time improved by over 2% to 92.5% and lost mileage reduced. A refreshed website and very successful, continually evolving app used by 70,000 registered customers, supported by new digital services like “Ask Alexa” make information easily accessible and going further, NCT has embraced Bus Services Act open data requirements, publishing its Open Data Portal 6 months ahead of the legislative deadline.

A well written entry backed up with a good service on the ground, verified by our mystery travellers, is how the judges described NCT. The company has made a substantial investment in gas buses and achieved an 11% growth in the number of young people travelling. It also ran services on Boxing Day last year and has made its bus times available on the Amazon smart speaker.

Winner, Silver Award – Brighton & Hove Buses

We give people the freedom to connect with the people and places they value most with our fleet of 275 buses operating across 25 routes and 2,000 stops. We cover Brighton and Hove, connecting the city to Crowborough, Eastbourne, Lewes and Tunbridge Wells. We’ve continued to buck the national trend of declining bus use. Our passengers made 51.3 million journeys in the 2018-19 financial year, up 1.5 million journeys and 3% from the year before: the UK’s highest bus use per head of the population outside London. We’ve done this by putting our heart and soul into customer service, accessibility, innovation and low emissions buses. It must be working, customer satisfaction is 91%. We’re deeply rooted in communities we serve. We do what’s good for our passengers and communities and good for our business, whether that’s multi-operator ticketing, superhubs or community ticket deals. About 98% of our fleet is Euro V standard or better, Euro IV accounting for one-third. Thirty extended-range electric buses arrive soon.

This company was praised by the judges for its social inclusion and links with community groups, alongside adding new services such as branded buses stopping at visitor attractions in the area. The silver winner is Brighton and Hove Buses.

Winner, Bronze Award – Stagecoach Manchester

Stagecoach Manchester carries 106 million passengers on a fleet of 750 buses. We use our drive, experience and passion to be the best bus company, putting our customers, staff and local communities at the centre of everything we do. Over the last year we’ve improved service delivery by reviewing our customer proposition on an on-going basis and invested in new services. This has enabled us to grow passenger numbers by 2.5%, against a backdrop of national decline. At 89% our passenger satisfaction remains at industry-leading levels. We’ve listened to and invested in our staff, leading us to achieve staff engagement levels of 78%, higher than the industry norm. We provided safe, high-quality, good value and accessible travel on one of the country’s greenest buses and continue to invest to ensure our fleet is cleaner for the environment, protecting the air quality of the communities we serve.

Operating a three hundred and sixty-five day service with new services to the airport and employment areas such as the freight terminal and Amazon’s distribution centre, the bronze winner is Stagecoach Manchester.

Finalist – Lothian

Lothian is Edinburgh’s principal bus operator and the UK’s biggest municipal company. Operating over 70 services in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas of Midlothian and East Lothian, the company has a vision to deliver a safe, efficient, sustainable and socially-inclusive transport service for all those who visit, live, work, or study in the region. In 2018 Lothian was named Scottish Public Transport Operator of the year. With over 2.3 million customers per week, Lothian continues to grow as Edinburgh’s main public transport service.

Finalist – National Express West Midlands

National Express West Midlands spent 2018 innovating tirelessly to deliver exceptional performance for our customers. Dspite the tough UK climate, we’ve had a great year: 1% growth in revenue and 1% passenger growth and we have worked with our West Midlands Bus Alliance partners to bring in highways improvements, express services, faster boarding and new timetables to speed up journey times by 1%. Average bus speeds in the West Midlands have increased. This is the first time this has happened since 2005, and is contrary to the national trend, including London. This is a result of the Bus Alliance work – highways improvements and new express services – and faster boarding through digital ticketing and faster schedules. And our Engineering Excellence programme has reduced breakdowns by 28%. Bucking another trend, our recruitment team has worked tirelessly to improve driver recruitment across the West Midlands. A variety of advertising methods, updated assessments, decreased time to hire, as well as a focus on the candidate experience has led to record recruitment levels. By being brave, doing new things and giving our customers what they want, we have proved the bus industry still has a lot to offer.

Finalist – Plymouth Citybus

We have had a year of innovation and growth at Plymouth Citybus, carrying 16.4 million passenger journeys across a fleet of 164 buses. Here are our highlights: 93% of passengers are satisfied with the Citybus service – up from 90% in 2017, passengers-per-kilometre-operated has increased 3%, our 18-and-under £1 fare has increased passenger numbers by 46% and lowered single fares by up to £1.40 per ticket in Plymouth and £5 in Cornwall, around 1 in 10 people in Plymouth actively use our mobile app. Contactless now accounts for 25% of total revenue and 33% of all on bus sales, community investment has increased by 20% to over £75,000 and we are a founding member of Plymouth Children in Poverty and we also partnered with police to help catch over 100 law-breaking motorists. Our new hop-on, hop-off sightseeing service offers a first-in-a-generation experience for Plymouth, more than 50 local people have found employment thanks to our initiative with the Job Centre, more than £1 million has been invested in redeveloping our depot. Employee engagement has increased by 8% to 77%. We now have a zero gender pay gap and Carbon emissions are currently 0.65kg per passenger journey, down from 0.73kg in 2017/18.

Finalist – Stagecoach Merseyside

Stagecoach in Liverpool have continued to focus on investment in customers, staff and services resulting in operational improvements.

Finalist – Translink Metro

Last year Translink Metro – which operates all passenger bus services in Belfast – delivered a series of innovations to encourage residents to use sustainable networks – notably introducing the biggest change to Belfast public transport in decades – the launch of the country’s first Rapid Transit Service, Glider. Employing around 1,000 local people, our mission to be our customers’ ‘first choice for travel’ has been the catalyst for a state-of-the-art depot, a new ticketing system and investment in new vehicles, culminating in an outstanding year and a step change in the culture of our organisation. Despite a challenging environment, such as long-term route diversions due to a major city centre fire in 2018, we are celebrating our third successive year of growth – increasing annual passenger journeys to a record 30 million, maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction and achieving best-in-class punctuality. Proudly working in partnership, we believe we have the vision, strategic plan, track record and expertise to keep Belfast moving and growing. Our recent achievements have fuelled our ambitions to demonstrate how public transport plays a vital role in the future development and success of a shared mobility model for Northern Ireland.

Thanks to all our sponsors and supporters, including