And the winners are…

The winners were announced online on Tuesday 16th November 2021 in a specially commissioned video at 3pm. Click the categories below to find out more.
  • Build Back Better
  • Winner (Bus): Transdev
    Winner (Coach): Belle Vue
    Highly Commended: National Express West Midlands and Yellow Buses

  • Build Back Better Champion
  • Winner (Bus): Martijn Gilbert, Go North East
    Winner (Coach): Candice Mason, Masons Minibus and Coach Hire and Kevin Mayne, Maynes Coaches

  • Communications
  • Winner (Bus): Translink
    Winner (Coach): Alfa Travel

  • Impact on the Bus Industry by an Individual
  • Winner: Victoria Garcia, MBE, Brighton & Hove Buses

  • Impact on the Coach Industry by an Individual
  • Winner: Jenna Rush, North East Coach Travel

  • Outstanding Partnerships
  • Winner: Stagecoach East Midlands – Stagecoach Connect

  • Outstanding Teamwork sponsored by Alfatronix
  • Winner National Express Bus Recruitment Team

  • Services to the Bus Industry
  • Winner: James Freeman

  • Services to the Community
  • Winners: Brighton & Hove Buses – Above and Beyond and First York – Restart Fund

  • Technology and Innovation
  • Winner: Milton Keynes Council – MK Connect

  • Top London Bus Driver sponsored by Transport for London and The Luke Rees-Pulley Charitable Trust
  • Winner: Septimus Williams, Abellio London

  • Top National Bus Driver
  • Winner: Karen Miles, trentbarton

  • Top UK Coach Driver
  • Winner: Pat Douglas, Belle Vue

  • Unsung Heroes
  • Winners: Martyn Darbon, Brighton & Hove Community Transport and Mike Harvey, Abellio London and Jayne Hunt, Arriva London

  • The ‘None of the Above’ category
  • Winner: Stagecoach London – Ambulances in West Ham

    Build Back Better

    This award is designed to recognise and reward initiatives designed to help buses and coaches recover as speedily and effectively as possible. The pandemic has put enormous strain on the industry’s financial position and a natural reaction would be to retrench and hope that markets eventually recover. However, this would be to ignore the fundamental changes which have taken place. The Build Back Better award recognises companies that have taken steps to position themselves to respond to those changes and plan for the future.

    Winner (Bus): Transdev

    Transdev was praised for its extensive positive messaging about travelling by bus – notably its ‘Clean, safe and ready to go’ campaign – while also expanding the business with the purchase of Yorkshire Tiger earlier this year.

    Winner (Coach): Belle Vue

    The judges described Belle Vue’s entry as “almost a blueprint for how to survive a pandemic”, with a real team effort from management and staff as well as integrating another coach business acquired as the pandemic struck

    Highly Commended:

    National Express West Midlands for creating reasons to travel, having staff on the ground to give customers confidence, and its bold move in reducing fares.
    Yellow Buses for its development and expansion of open topped bus routes, becoming a tourist attraction in themselves, as well as the changes brought about by a management buyout.

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    Build Back Better Champion

    The Build Back Better Champion award is aimed at those senior figures who have put themselves out to promote the wider bus or coach sectors, over and above their own business. The award could be given to an individual or team of senior industry people. Junior managers, supervisors and staff at other levels may be appropriate for nomination as Unsung Heroes, where their contribution is more likely to be for the business they work for, rather than the industry in general.

    Winner (Bus): Martijn Gilbert, Go North East

    The judges praised Martijn for his outstanding leadership, fast decision making and high visibility among his staff and to the public. Daily videos with Q and A sessions, depot visits and driving buses went alongside appearances on regional TV and marketing campaigns including a one pound evening fare, which has grown passenger numbers.

    Winner (Coach): Candice Mason, Masons Minibus and Coach Hire

    Candice was praised by the judges for her tenacity in eloquently making the case for industry support, enlisting the support of her local MP and securing interviews in trade journals, in the local and national press, and on radio and TV. The judges also commented that in a male dominated industry, Candice has brought women to the forefront, and noted that she also organised a free transport service to vaccination centres.

    Winner (Coach): Kevin Mayne, Maynes Coaches

    Kevin Mayne is another winner picked out for his tireless campaigning for support for the coach industry, which helped achieve success with the Scottish government. He also made himself available to every UK operator to offer help and advice and has featured in many written press articles alongside appearances on TV and radio. In his local community he has provided a Covid-19 response vehicle for the NHS, and a coach to become a mobile food bank.

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    Communications

    The pandemic has shown how important great communications are, whether it’s passing on news, raising the morale of employees, or giving details about facilities and service changes to customers. This award will go to the individual, team or organisation that produced the best communication strategy or individual piece of communication.

    Winner (Bus): Translink

    The judges praised Translink for its travel campaigns that were all about hope, picking up on the NHS rainbow, and involving local children in producing artwork.

    Winner (Coach): Alfa Travel

    Amongst coach operators, the judges described Alfa Travel’s customer engagement as “Premier League stuff”, creating a good community feeling, and noting that Alfa is posting several messages on its Facebook page every day.

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    Impact on the Bus Industry by an Individual / Impact on the Coach Industry by an Individual

    This category recognises the contribution made by one person whose actions have had a major positive impact on the bus or coach industries. That could be over a period of years or even a one off event or act.

    Impact on the Bus Industry by an Individual

    Winner: Victoria Garcia MBE, Brighton & Hove Buses

    Victoria MBE continues to have a big impact on the bus industry and its many users with accessibility needs. Amongst her many achievements, she has changed bus design to include features like effective hearing loops and dementia-friendly colour schemes; and developed the Helping Hands cards, now being rolled out across the Go-Ahead Group and also used in taxis, cinemas, theatres and shops in Brighton and Hove and beyond. Already awarded an MBE for services to disabled transport users, Victoria can now add this award for Impact on the Bus Industry by an Individual.

    Impact on the Coach Industry by an Individual

    Winner: Jenna Rush, North East Coach Travel

    Honk for Hope UK was probably the coach industry’s most visible campaign to the general public. It brought together operators from up and down the country at a series of rallies and convoys held throughout the UK including Newcastle, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Blackpool and London, often attracting several hundred coaches. This huge campaign was organised by one person: Jenna Rush.

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    Outstanding Partnerships

    The pandemic has shown more than ever the importance of partnerships built between bus and coach operators and suppliers, local authorities, businesses and other organisations in their area. This category seeks to recognise and reward outstanding examples of how the partnerships created have helped bus and coach operators survive the pandemic, and put in the building blocks for future success.

    Winner: Stagecoach East Midlands – Stagecoach Connect

    The judges noted that there was a particularly strong pool of entries in this category, and selected Stagecoach East Midlands for its Stagecoach Connect NHS workers transport service. Using a demand driven digital booking platform, NHS workers were able to get to and from a hospital in time for their shifts. Launched initially in Mansfield, Stagecoach also worked with three NHS trusts and various local authorities to create services for hospitals in Grimsby and Hull.

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    Outstanding Teamwork

    sponsored by Alfatronix

    The rapid imposition of the various stages of lockdown each required an immediate response. Many coach operators had to put a large proportion of staff on furlough and effectively mothball their entire operation, while a few were able to provide essential services to schools or in place of halted rail services. Bus operators had to completely revise schedules, reduce services, and create bespoke services for essential workers. Entire depots were mothballed and staff had to be flexible about when and where they worked, or were furloughed.

    Winner: National Express Bus Recruitment Team

    The judges praised the team for tackling the issue of recruiting drivers head on during the pandemic. Learning, and adapting the process within the various restrictions, the team even managed to reduce the historical establishment gap from over a hundred to less than 40 – an outstanding result.

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    Services to the Bus Industry

    The awards for Services to the Bus Industry and Coach Industry recognise a significant and sustained contribution to the success of each industry by an individual who has consistently gone beyond the call of normal duty to improve and promote the bus or coach industry for its users or the wider community.

    Winner: James Freeman

    This year’s winner has been in the industry for more than 40 years, and has management roles in Birmingham, Brighton, Bournemouth, Bristol and Fareham. He’s been the MD of Stagecoach East, CEO of Reading Buses, and until his recent retirement, MD of First West of England. Apart from his continuing role as Co-Patron of the Young Bus Managers’ Network, James is Chair of Bus Rapid Transit UK, and says that he is quietly assessing how best to contribute to the bus industry going forward.

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    Services to the Community

    This award is designed to recognise and reward a scheme, project or other activity by a bus or coach operator that has provided benefits to local people. There have been many examples during the pandemic of how bus and coach operators have used their vehicles and expertise to place their businesses at the heart of the community.

    Winner: Brighton & Hove Buses – Above and Beyond

    Brighton and Hove Buses’ Above and Beyond campaign celebrates individuals in the city that have done so much for its community. Each person’s story is told on the inside and outside of twenty-four new buses, as well as on a microsite, and has created huge community engagement for the bus operator.

    Winner: First York – Restart Fund

    First York’s Restart Fund was a competition giving cash awards to support small and independent businesses. Social media engagement increased by a thousand percent and there was a doubling of click-through rates from emails. The judges loved this innovative approach and noted that the profile and goodwill generated has helped First York to build new partnerships.

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     Technology and Innovation

    The pandemic has seen many innovations introduced at pace, and the bus and coach sectors have been no exception. From pieces of protective equipment, technological innovations and the introduction of practices new to the industries, this category rewards excellence in them all. It also recognises the continued pace of new technology and innovation in the bus and coach industries that has continued despite the pandemic, and is not directly related to it.

    Winner: Milton Keynes Council – MK Connect

    The judges liked this DRT scheme as the first in the UK that integrates DRT into the existing transport network, and also commented that it was good to see a local authority entry.

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    Top London Bus Driver / Top National Bus Driver

    To win the title of Top London or National Bus Driver, entrants need to go that extra mile to provide the customer’s ideal; a driver who is friendly, helpful, conscientious and mindful of passengers’ comfort and well-being – in short, a true professional and worthy ambassador for the job. Importantly, the winner of this award will also have gone out of their way to help others cope with the pandemic, either among their colleagues or in the wider community. That might include voluntary work, raising money or generally going above and beyond to help others.

    Top London Bus Driver

    sponsored by Transport for London and The Luke Rees-Pulley Charitable Trust

    Winner: Septimus Williams, Abellio London

    Better known as Sep to his colleagues at Abellio London, and originally from Somali, Sep has gone out of his way to help drivers from other countries settle in and assist with their training, learning key phrases in several different languages. He’s also helped with adapting training and route learning, and is an outstanding driver with many years of accident free driving. A great ambassador for the industry.

    Top National Bus Driver

    Winner: Karen Miles, trentbarton

    Karen was given a perfect score in her last company mystery customer audit, thoroughly impressing with how smart she looked, how well she drove and how friendly and welcoming she was. Seeing how the pandemic was affecting her colleagues, she has been studying mental health and well being to become a mental health champion and was given a Covid British Empire Medal in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

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    Top UK Coach Driver

    The winner of this award will demonstrate the ability to go that bit further to provide the customer’s ideal: a driver who is friendly, helpful, conscientious and mindful of passengers’ comfort and well-being – in short, a true professional and worthy ambassador for the coach industry. Since the start of the pandemic, many coach drivers will have been furloughed or may have been undertaking different driving duties to usual. This award recognises those drivers who not only excel in their driving and customer service skills, but have gone above and beyond to make a significant contribution during the pandemic.

    Winner: Pat Douglas, Belle Vue

    Described by his employer as the hardest working driver Belle Vue has ever employed, Pat has been with the company for 13 years and is very popular with customers with his quiet, calm and collected demeanour. Whether he’s taking a bunch of teenagers to Chester Zoo, driving Manchester City footballers, or taking a tour around Europe, nothing phases him and he always goes the extra mile to exceed customer expectations.

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    Unsung Heroes

    This category will recognise one or more individuals working in the bus and coach industry who perform supervisory or junior management roles, or any individual that has not yet reached these positions. As well as being known for their hard-work, loyalty and devotion to duty, the winner will have made a significant contribution to help the company they work for during the pandemic.

    Unsung Heroes are those who keep the wheels turning against all the odds, and no more so than during the pandemic which brought many new challenges and an ever-changing operating environment. No passenger transport operator or organisation can do without such people, even though they often slave away for years with no recognition, save their own satisfaction in a service delivered and a job well done. Above all, the Unsung Hero will be someone who demonstrates the importance of ensuring that the services are delivered for the customer – internal or external – in difficult operating conditions.

    Winner: Martyn Darbon, Brighton & Hove Community Transport

    The judges praised Martyn for the way he stepped up to cover for Brighton and Hove Community Transport’s General Manager who was stuck abroad. During the first lockdown, he changed the service to take elderly passenger’s shopping lists over the telephone and using vehicles to deliver their food, eventually expanding the service to all Brighton and Hove residents. The judges thought that Martyn demonstrated the true spirit of community transport.

    Winner: Mike Harvey, Abellio London

    Abellio London’s Fleet Manager was selected as a winner by the judges, not only for the way in which he held the team together at the Battersea garage in the face of the death of a much respected colleague, but with what the judges described as the true compassion Mike showed in supporting the colleague’s family, as well as supporting another colleague now unable to move independently and suffering from long Covid.

    Winner: Jayne Hunt, Arriva London

    Jayne Hunt is one of the team of Garage Supervisors at Arriva London’s Norwood garage where around 440 drivers are based. The garage was especially hard hit with Covid-19 staff sickness, putting extreme pressure on the supervisory teams to maintain services. At one point, Jayne was the only supervisor able to work, and did so way beyond her usual hours. It was an extremely difficult year for her after losing her husband to the virus. The judges unanimously thought that she typified an unsung hero.

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    The ‘None of the Above’ category

    This year’s awards are a celebration not only of all the great work that’s been done during the pandemic, but also looking forward to recognise what has been put into place to develop the bus and coach industries post pandemic. The preceding categories cover most aspects of bus and coach operations, but if there’s something that you think deserves recognition that doesn’t seem to fit easily into one of the other categories, tell us about it anyway. We may decide that it does fit elsewhere, in which case we’ll move it to the relevant category. If not, we’ll leave it for the judges to consider alongside the other entries received.

    Winner: Stagecoach London – Ambulances in West Ham

    After clearing a significant area of the garage, including pits and canteen facilities, the engineering team worked with the AA and London Ambulance Service to kit out second-hand vehicles, and bring 62 new ambulances into service in five days, instead of the usual two vehicles a week. The operational ambulance fleet was increased from 350 to more than 600, which the judges noted would have had a significant effect on saving lives.

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