Thursday 24 March 2016

Stagecoach Rated Best Value Bus Operator in Britain for Third Consecutive Year

Bus passengers have rated Stagecoach as the best value major bus operator in Britain for the third consecutive year, according to new independent research.

Consumer watchdog Transport Focus found that customers across the UK ranked Stagecoach higher than any other national bus operator on value for money in its latest UK Bus Passenger Satisfaction Survey.
67% of Stagecoach customers in England said they were satisfied with value for money, significantly above the industry average of 62%

Within specific local areas, a number of Stagecoach companies were also found to be rated highly for value for money including Merseyside (81%), South Yorkshire (71%), Tees Valley (77%) and North East Lincolnshire (72%).
In Manchester 69% of Stagecoach customers were satisfied with value for money, compared to an average score of 66% for the Greater Manchester area as a whole. In addition, value for money scores across Tyne and Wear rose from 63% in 2014 to 68% in 2015.
Stagecoach has also previously been found to offer the lowest bus fares in Britain in all three of the most recent surveys carried out by independent transport specialists the TAS Partnership. 
The results of the most recent Transport Focus research showed that 86% of Stagecoach customers in England were found to be satisfied with their bus services overall, in line with the UK average. Just 5% of Stagecoach passengers surveyed said they were dissatisfied overall. 

However, the research also demonstrated the growing challenges that bus operators face around the availability of road space. 
There was no improvement in the average customer ratings for any of the major bus operators on punctuality and on-bus journey time between 2014 and 2015, with some scores dropping. 
In Greater Manchester, where Stagecoach has said traffic congestion costs an addition £7million per year, the number of passengers saying they were satisfied with punctuality has dropped from 76% in 2014 to 71% in 2015. The number of bus customers in Manchester who said they were satisfied with on-bus journey time has also dropped from 85% in 2014 to 81% in 2015.
In addition, the results showed that in the majority of areas in which Stagecoach operates, an increased number of customers rated congestion/traffic jams as the main factor affecting journey length. 

The Transport Focus survey showed that Merseyside had the most satisfied customers of any metropolitan area in England as 89% of customers said they were satisfied with services overall.
The research found that in the areas of Gloucester and Oxfordshire, where Stagecoach is a main operator, the number of customers who said they were satisfied had risen.
Passenger Focus surveyed around 40,000 passengers across 51 areas and operations in England, outside of London.
The results also showed that:
74% of customers said they were satisfied with the punctuality of Stagecoach services
84% of Stagecoach passengers said they were satisfied with on-bus journey time
9 out of 10 Stagecoach customers in Merseyside, East Sussex, Gloucester, North East Lincolnshire and Tees Valley said they were satisfied with services overall.
Robert Montgomery, Managing Director of Stagecoach UK Bus, said: “This is further verification, from the customers who use buses, that we offer the best value bus travel in Britain, but we know running bus services that people want to use is about more than just the cost of travel.

“Customers want high quality customer service and confidence that buses will run on time. Our employees have done a fantastic job in delivering good services for our passengers but we are concerned about the impact of road congestion on the punctuality of our services. Today’s research shows it’s high time something was done to tackle the problem of congestion in our towns and cities. 
“Operators need support and action from local authorities to free up road space for buses. By making bus services even more reliable, we can attract more people out of their cars, improve journey times and deliver a positive environmental impact.”
Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths recently warned that congestion – particularly at peak times - is strangling the UK’s towns and cities. The cost to the UK economy from congestion is estimated to be £11 billion every year. At current rates between now and March 2020, congestion will have wasted around £50b - enough to fund the entire cost of the HS2 high speed rail project. Department for Transport statistics show that traffic on Britain’s roads reached its highest ever level last year and congestion has continued to rise. Separate DfT congestion figures show that average speeds on A roads during the morning peak have fallen for almost four years.
Stagecoach continues to invest in customer improvements. In December, the company launched a new responsive website for its UK Bus division. The site features a nationwide online bus planning service, lets passengers check live running times for their services and enables travel to be bought direct from smartphones. The website is part of a three-year, £11million digital investment strategy.
Stagecoach has spent around £650million in new buses and coaches for the UK in the last eight years. Smart ticketing is now available at all Stagecoach regional companies and, along with the UK’s other major operators, Stagecoach has helped deliver multi-operator smart ticketing in all of England’s city regions, benefitting around 15million people. Work is also underway on a similar scheme in Scotland. 
The country’s major bus operators are also working on an ambitious scheme that could see contactless travel introduced on every one of the UK’s 32,000-plus buses outside London by 2022.