2019 Top Independent Operator

Top Independent Operator sponsored by sponsored by Omnibus

Winner, Gold Award – Ensignbus

Ensign is a rare breed. Not only in being an independent operating one of the most modern fleets of any of its peers, on a fully commercial network, but also in showing year-on-year revenue and passenger increases in every single one of the past 15 years. This has been achieved against a backdrop of operating in one of the UK’s busiest and most congested areas thus providing extreme operating conditions for such successes.

The judges noted that Ensignbus operates in difficult operating territory with both high car ownership and lots of congestion, yet our mystery travellers noted it still provides a good service. It has made lots of changes to meet passenger demand, which has no doubt helped it mark 15 years of continuous growth. New services on Boxing Day, and a customer telephone number manned 24 hours a day, also impressed the judges.

Winner, Silver Award – Prentice Coaches

Prentice of Haddington are a forward thinking, innovative family owned and run multi award winning bus company based in Haddington, the county town of East Lothian. We were established in 1991 originally and primarily as a coach operator. Bus operation started in 1993 and has expanded considerably in recent years as opportunities have arisen and it now accounts for around 70% of our business and we now play a vital role in our counties infrastructure. We believe in running modern eco-friendly buses kept in immaculate condition, offering simple value for money fares, including contactless and smartcard options, coupled with an old fashioned customer care ethos delivered by staff who take immense pride in delivering 21st century transport to our community.

This company was described by the judges as the model for the small operation and noted its investment in vehicles and technology.

Winner, Bronze Award – Courtney Buses

For a small operator, with less than 60 O’ licences, we’ve achieved big things. We’ve focused on improving absolutely everything for our customers and employees. We’ve expanded and introduced new routes, innovated with new technology including an app and contactless, launched MyDas Touch driver self-service app, plus a great combination of investments. We’ve shown we care about the communities we serve by creating truly accessible services for everyone, fundraising to install a lifesaving defibrillator in the Bracknell Bus station, providing transport to many large events in the Berkshire area, such as the Bracknell Ale and Cider festival, and sponsoring Bracknell Bees Ice hockey team. We’re a true part of the communities we serve. All of this couldn’t have been achieved without putting our passengers first, having amazing customer service and employing only the best. Despite a decrease in bus usage elsewhere in the UK, we’ve had 10.9% more customers and 16.7% more revenue in the past year. The business is 42% more profitable than the previous year, all resulting in a small operator being recently purchased by the award-winning Reading Buses. That’s the best recognition an Independent Operator could receive for our sustained effort to deliver excellence everyday.

Now part of Reading Buses, at the time covered by the entry it was under independent ownership.

Finalist – BorderBus

In 2013 BorderBus was formed with the intention of providing reliable, quality commercial bus services in and around the Beccles area, whilst keeping the size of the company easily manageable and stress free.

Finalist – Edwards Coaches

Edwards Coaches Ltd. is an award winning fifth generation multi-skilled family business established in 1925. We are committed to quality, continuous improvement, innovation and training, employing 22 staff in our local bus department. All staff are locally employed and our team is just as passionate as the directors, treating the company as their own. Many local families are dependent on our business and we have generations of families working alongside the Edwards family. We appreciate and understand our place within the local community and always aim to benefit the area as much as we can whether this is through staff progression, our vital bus service or charity work. It is a responsibility that we do not take lightly and everyone from our drivers to our directors take great pride in the work we do.

Finalist – Uno

Over the past three years Uno Hatfield has focused on culture, investment and a route-based growth strategy. This programme is proving highly successful with improved customer satisfaction and increased passenger growth across all route badged corridors. The company prides itself on creating innovative solutions to advance customer satisfaction, all backed up by an engaged and motivated team. This unique organisation is set up as an arm’s length company of the University of Hertfordshire, and one that has a complex set of stakeholders. In 24 months there has been £2.6m invested in new buses, the installation of new ticket machine technology enabling contactless payments, and over 5,000 hours in training and development. In 2019 passenger growth had reached double digits on selected route badged corridors and customer satisfaction was at an all time high of 95% across the network, with some premium corridors reaching 98%.

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