Bus companies, local government and suppliers across Britain are celebrating their success in the 2017 UK Bus Awards, which this week announced the winners of its 22nd annual competition at a glittering ceremony before over 710 industry movers and shakers at Troxy In London’s Docklands.
Go South Coast was named UK Bus Operator of the Year in 2017, having earlier been victorious in the closely-fought contest for the title of Top Shire Operator. In addition, the company’s Eastleigh depot scooped the Gold Award in the contest to find the UK’s Top National Bus Depot – a unique hattrick for the business.
Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company won the Silver Award in the overall contest, after being named as Top City Operator. Brighton were also given a Special Commendation in the Sustained Marketing Excellence category for publishing their best-selling Bus Times guide to the city’s bus services for the last 30 years.
The prize of Top Independent Operator went to Stephensons of Essex, a leading operator of services in Essex and Suffolk. Silver went to last year’s winners, Prentice Coaches, a family firm based in Haddington, East Lothian. Neighbouring Lothian Buses took the Silver Award in the Top City Operator competition, along with another Silver for the company’s onogoing campaign to reduce its environmental impact, Bus 2020.
Two long serving industry figures were honoured with the Award for Services to the Bus Industry this year. Leon Daniels, shortly to retire from TfL as managing director, surface transport and Steven Salmon, CPT’s Director of Policy Development since 1997. The Awards Management Committee paid tribute to their long service – over 30 years in both cases – and to the contributions they have made.
The Award for Top National Bus Driver presented the judges with a very close and difficult decision between Gold and Silver winners. In the end, the top prize to Maks Pruszewicz from Reading Buses, with the Silver Award going Dale French of Transdev Blazefield and Bronze to Phil Hadley from Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company. All were praised for their hard work, loyalty and customer service skills by their employers, the judges and mystery travellers alike.
Amongst the major groups, the Go-Ahead Group took home twelve awards: no fewer than six Golds, plus three silver and three Bronze Awards. In addition to Go South Coast’s triple, Stephen King from Go North East took Gold in the new Leadership and Inspiration Award, and the group’s London subsidiary was named as one of two Gold winners in the environment category for the electric bus project at London’s Waterloo garage.
Arriva scooped ten awards – four gold, three silver and three bronze. The ground-breaking ArrivaClick demand responsive service in Sittingbourne took the top prize in the New Horizons category, whilst ‘Team Brixton’ was named London Bus Garage of the Year. Also in London, Chris Leonti from Tottenham won a Gold Award in the Unsung Heroes category, whilst the group’s Luton depot scooped the top prize for its work with local people in the town in the Bus an the Community contest.
Stagecoach followed by winning nine awards – no golds this year, but four silver and five bronze awards. FirstGroup meanwhile took four – two Gold, one silver and one bronze. One Gold went to First West of England for their ground-breaking “Beat the Rise” marketing campaign to promote off-bus ticketing; the second one was to Paul Branigan of First Scotland East and Midland Bluebird, named as Engineer of the Year.
Transdev took four a silver and two bronzes – plus one gold for Sustained Marketing Excellence on the iconic 36 route from Leeds to Harrogate and Ripon.
Other winners included Abellio (two), National Express (one) and Wellglade (one). Amongst local authorities, Nottingham City Council took home two trophies – two Golds for their scheme to electrify the city’s Park & Ride services, and the other for their Smart Ticketing for the Robin Hood Network. Transport for London’s comprehensive approach to bus priority in the capital also won them a Gold Award in the Making Buses a Better Choice category.
The man who keeps trentbarton’s thousands of bus stops informative and welcoming places to catch a service has won the national prize for Unsung Hero. Chris Plummer, trentbarton’s roadside officer, won Gold where he was up against seven other finalists from across Great Britain.
Chris, 46, from Ilkeston, plays a vital role at trentbarton and had already scooped the unsung hero title at the company’s 2017 really good service awards.
Chris said he succeeds in his role because trentbarton gives him ownership of his job: “They trust me to do the best work possible. It’s nice to have that responsibility. On a daily basis, I see customers looking at my work so I need to know it’s up to my standards and that I’m giving 100 per cent all the time.”
The UK awards scheme plays a key role in raising the profile of buses, helping to shape political and customer perceptions and in recognising and rewarding the achievements of all the people who work so hard in the industry to deliver, plan and promote the services.
Mark Yexley, Chairman of the UK Bus Awards, said: “Every year our job gets tougher and tougher. We get to hear about some of the most amazing people. They’re truly outstanding in every way. The time and effort they take to make sure our passengers have the very best journey experience is commendable.