2019 Top Shire Operator

Top Shire Operator sponsored by sponsored by Ticketer

Winner, Gold Award – Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire

Our entry is all about partnership, innovation and strong operational delivery. We have delivered high quality services over a number of years culminating in a 93% overall satisfaction score in the 2018 Transport Focus survey. Partnership working with councils, universities and other operators has driven customer growth. Strong partnerships with community organisations have helped vulnerable people back onto the bus and assisted families in need. Innovation within the company particularly in the field of health and wellbeing has improved staff engagement and new ways of partnering with communities have kept marginal services operating. Underlying this is a strong focus on customers & safety with new ways of engaging staff significantly reducing accidents.

Given the cuts from local authorities in its territory, the judges thought the company had done exceptionally well and noted investment in new vehicles. In Cumbria, the company copes well with adverse weather in the winter, and a large influx of visitors in the summer when it has to deal with a lot of congestion and lays on extra staff at busy stops to guide visitors to the right service. The judges also noted new initiatives for young people and its excellent partnership working with local communities to keep marginal services running.

Winner, Silver Award – Stagecoach East Scotland

Stagecoach East Scotland operate bus and coach services throughout Fife, Perthshire, Dundee and Angus, with journeys extending to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Livingston, facilitating 32 million passenger journeys per year. As well as local bus services across the region, the company’s award winning Express City Connect network connects main towns and cities using high quality coaches. With 1300 employees and 469 vehicles, the company is one of the largest bus operators in Scotland, using strong working partnerships with local stakeholders including 10 local authorities, to implement service improvements and continual network development with effective results. Operating in challenging markets, growth is achieved through network development, ongoing marketing excellence and strong stakeholder engagement delivering infrastructure benefits. During 2018, investment has delivered increased capacity, state-of-the-art vehicles and improved staff welfare facilities. We remain dedicated to delivering safe and comfortable journeys via a seamless customer experience through our frontline staff and digital channels. To enhance that experience, we work with external partners to improve customer experience as well as increase staff engagement and satisfaction.

Working hard to continue its network expansion and passenger growth alongside investment in new vehicles.

Winner, Bronze Award – Oxford Bus Company

A public transport operator does more than just operate transport – it is a large part of the lives of those in the community it serves. Whilst the need to provide quality services that our customers can rely on is a given, we must also ensure our environmental footprint is as light as our social footprint is heavy. Doing “the right thing” obviously has a financial impact – which can be seen in the cost of developmental new services, such as PickMeUp as well as in our capital investment – but we believe that in the long run this makes good business sense. The same goes for investment in our people, be it reward and recognition, fair remuneration and loyalty incentives or otherwise. An engaged workforce is a productive workforce, and we have seen reductions in absenteeism and turnover as a result of the work that we’ve done.

Picking out its combined park and ride ticket, growth in contactless payments and Investors in People Silver status.

Finalist – EastCoastbuses

East Coast Buses Ltd is the main provider of commercial bus service in East Lothian, operating a number of routes into the City of Edinburgh. Formed by the takeover of First Group’s East Lothian operation in August 2016, the Company has heavily invested in new fleet and its network of services. This has resulted in customer numbers increasing by 57% in less than 3-years, demonstrating that a rural bus network can be grown significantly when a high quality product offering is successfully delivered. The business is now firmly embedded in the local communities it serves, providing sustainable, socially-inclusive transport, while helping to tackle the growing issue of rural poverty.

Finalist – Go South Coast

Our Vision: To be the company that people want to work for and travel with. Listening to and engaging with stakeholders allows us to make the best decisions for customers and colleagues. We continually develop our people, so they are confident, enjoy their role – and feel empowered to contribute ideas for our future success. Go South Coast has had an amazing run of recognition in the last couple of years, with wins for Bus Operator of the year at UK Bus Awards, National Transport Awards and RouteONE. A difficult position to hold on to – but we continue our efforts to be the very best we can. We’re not complacent. During the last year, we’ve continued to build on our success – focussing on network development, technology to enhance customers’ experience, community engagement and environmental trials, including a world first.

Finalist – Metrobus

Metrobus runs a comprehensive local bus network in Sussex, Surrey and Kent with four routes running 24 hours a day. Through our innovation and investment in our services we have more than doubled the number of local bus users since 2001, taking millions of car journeys off local roads. This year we’ve enhanced routes and invested in our fleet with 10 new Euro 6 buses – with USBs and wifi fitted as standard. We’ve introduced contactless payments and launched a new app. Our purpose is to be accessible, efficient and sustainable so that our passengers can have a safe, comfortable service they can depend on without a second thought. We believe we are a progressive transportation business with a pioneering approach to making bus travel more accessible and sustainable.

Finalist – Stagecoach East Midlands

Stagecoach East Midlands runs a comprehensive network of services across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and East Yorkshire providing essential connections for communities to employment, education, healthcare and retail facilities. Working together through strong quality partnerships with our local authorities we have consistently invested to improve service quality, promote inclusivity, develop infrastructure, share expertise, and develop our staff. We have continued to work in partnership with local businesses, to encourage non, or infrequent, bus users by building on its Smart Commute travel plans, which offer employees considerable discount on weekly travel. We have continued to invest heavily in vehicles and technology to meet customer needs. This has included £3m in 11 new Euro VI vehicles on its Pronto service and £1.2m on new Ticket Machines, providing customers with a contactless payment option. High levels of Engineering and Operational performance have been maintained throughout the year with a 99% vehicle pass rate, 19% reduction in miles for internal reasons, 7% reduction in blameworthy accidents and a 4.5% reduction in complaints year on year. In 2018 Stagecoach East Midlands Nottinghamshire services achieved a 95% overall satisfaction rating by its customers in the Transport Focus passenger survey.

Finalist – Warrington’s Own Buses

Warrington’s Own Buses is a terrific, local bus company. It brings £30m pa of economic benefit to the town, through connecting people to places of work, leisure and education. Operating a comprehensive network, including marginal routes, yet still growing profits and a Shareholder dividend. One of the biggest employers in Warrington, we help people provide for their families, giving secure, high quality employment. Wellbeing and engagement are a vital part of our ethos. There’s a regular staff survey; social media; Director forums; new uniforms; weekly employee meetings; coffee mornings; an ‘Active Champion’; investment in facilities & training and a culture of respect. Good customer service starts with a happy workforce. Last year we improved turnover for the first time in some years and grew passengers by almost 2%; a respectable outcome in a difficult market. We have improved profits, at the same time as investing in people, buses and equipment. The network has grown, new contracts have been won and the reputation is improving. There are many big bus groups out there, but the back office systems, commitment, determination and aspirations of this municipal company is something to be reckoned with.

Thanks to all our sponsors and supporters, including