Making Coaches a Better Choice
Like all forms of passenger transport, coach travel relies on others to help make the journeys it provides for customers as comfortable, efficient and prompt as possible.
Highway authorities, coach parking provides, terminal operators, local authorities and tourist attractions all have a role to play in making life for coach passengers as comfortable and convenient as possible.
This award is designed to recognize and reward projects, big or small, which genuinely improve life for coach operators, coach drivers and their passengers.
The judges were looking for a scheme, project or partnership that achieved one or more of the following:
- improved the provision of an existing coach product
- improved passenger facilities for coach passengers
- provided a genuinely innovative new service
- improved services to coach passengers through new infrastructure or facilities giving faster, more comfortable and/or more reliable journeys.
Winner, Gold Award
Gloucester Green Customer Facilities - Oxford Bus Company
In response to increased competition from rival coach operators and expanding rail services, Oxford Bus Company introduced a customer waiting lounge and travel shop at the city's Gloucester Green coach station. Offering comfortable seating, tea, coffee and snack facilities, free customer wifi and USB charging points and live departure boards, the facility dramatically improves the customer experience and has been designed to give an excellent first impression in what is a highly competitive market.
The judges were pleased to see this investment in facilities for passengers before they board the vehicle which really enhances the overall experience.
Winner, Silver Award
McArthurGlen - Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet
Cheshire Oaks was the first, and remains the UK's largest, Designer Outlet. It has over 145 shops and eateries and runs marketing programmes aimed at coach and tour operators. Benefits for pre-booked coaches include reserved parking, additional discounts for passengers and a food and drink voucher for the coach driver. The company has always been keen to work with coach and tour operators to offer their customer something over and above what individual visitors receive.
The judges praised the ongoing work of the Cheshire Oaks outlet to work with coach operators to give their customers a great experience.
Winner, Bronze Award
South West Falcon - Stagecoach South West
The South West Falcon is a 24/7 coach service connecting Plymouth, Exeter and Taunton with Bristol Airport and the city centre. It was launched in February last year with eight coaches (seven in service and one spare) at a cost of £2.5m and has exceeded passenger and revenue targets. The Falcon is a stand-alone Stagecoach brand, and through intensive marketing, it has already generated a high level of awareness amongst Bristol airport customers, day trippers, theatre and concert goers, students, the weekend break market and commuters. All coaches feature a stylish livery and have free wifi, 240v and USB charging points, air conditioning and leather seats. The timetable runs hourly from early morning until late evening, moving to two-hourly overnight. In its first year, the service has established itself as a reliable and affordable, yet premium service for the M5/A38 corridor.
The South West Falcon impressed the judges with how well it has established itself in a little over a year of operation. An eye-catching livery and the use of high specification vehicles alongside clever marketing have no doubt contributed to this success.
Who can be nominated?
The award is open to operators, local authorities, partnerships, tourist and visitor attractions or other organisations.
… and by whom?
Nominations were accepted from all eligible organisations, and self-nomination was acceptable.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
The award is won by a project, or a change in practice, designed to improve accessibility for any group of people. The entry must demonstrate the improvements gained, that the project goes beyond minimum statutory requirements and that it is supported by endorsements from those who benefit most.
Entries will be ranked on the basis of the submissions made, which need to:
- Describe the problem(s) that the project was designed to solve.
- Describe the project and how it was implemented
- Explain the extent to which accessibility issues were considered
- State how the project or service was promoted
- Show how the outcome was monitored and describe any changes made as a result of the monitoring.
- Supply evidence of the results of the project (e.g. patronage or other appropriate indicators).
- State whether the results likely to be sustainable
- Describe any future plans for further development.
- Include any relevant supporting material.