Last Wednesday routeone welcomed 756 coach and bus industry professionals to the 13th annual routeone Awards. Chairman Mike Morgan reports from Birmingham on a celebration of outstanding levels of excellence evident throughout the UK.
A capacity audience, a stunning venue, top-rate presenters, and a tension-laden evening are the established hallmarks of the routeone Awards… and this year it again lived up to its reputation as an event of unrivalled status.
The black-tie event – held in the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel’s Monarch Suite last Wednesday (4 October) – was geared to ensure that everyone had an enjoyable evening, with celebrity TV personality Katie Derham as the presenter alongside routeone Editor Mel Holley, while renowned comedian Hal Cruttenden provided the after-dinner entertainment.
However, it is the winners of the 16 award categories who are the true stars, having been recognised and rewarded for being the industry’s best.
This year Go South Coast is among the 11 new names added to the distinguished list of outstanding operators.
Go South Coast not only won the prestigious title of Large Bus Operator of the Year, but it’s Managing Director Andrew Wickham stepped forward to receive the Award for Manager of the Year (large operator). What’s more it was an outstanding night for the Go-Ahead Group as a whole with additional successes chalked-up by Go North East as winner of the Training Award, Plymouth Citybus as Medium Bus Operator of the Year, and Go-Ahead London for its trail-blazing introduction of an all-electric bus fleet in London, which won it the Environment Award.
Other bus operator successes include awards to Ensignbus as Small Bus Operator of the Year, and Arriva UK Bus, which won the judges’ votes for its ArrivaClick minibus initiative, earning it the Best Use of Technology (over 200 vehicles) accolade.
National Express-owned The Kings Ferry won the Best Use of Technology (up to 200 vehicles) for its impressive CRM and Marketing platform, demonstrating enhanced customer relations and satisfaction.
Meanwhile there are new names on the Excellence in Minibus Operation and the three Coach Operator of the Year trophies. Homeward Bound Travel of Dorset was declared top minibus operator, Norfolk-based Easton’s Holidays is Small Coach Operator of the Year, Cotswolds-based Pulham & Sons (Coaches) won the Medium Coach Operator category, while top operator in the Large Coach Operator category is Horseman’s Coaches of Reading.
It is not only the operators who are rewarded, but also the industry’s outstanding people. In addition to Andrew Wickham, a top manager award went to Martijn Gilbert of Reading Buses, while the top engineers are Paul Murdoch of Golden Boy Coaches, and Peter Sumner of Stagecoach Manchester.
As with the other 15 categories, the announcement of Stephen Barber as Special Award winner was by a representative of the individual award partner who presented a trophy and certificate before they posed for photographs with our celebrity presenter.
In keeping with the established tradition at the routeone Awards, money was raised for charity.
There were prize draw envelopes on the tables and £4,800 was raised for the nominated charity, The Air Ambulance Association.
After the main meal was cleared, the draw for a Red-Letter Day prize (a ride in a hot air balloon) was made by Ian Luckett, this year’s President of the Confederation of Passenger Transport.
For the industry
Then, as now, the true value of winning is set by the guiding principle established at the first routeone Awards in 2005 – i.e. all entrants are nominated by others in the industry and the event is a celebration that is shared by all in the industry.
Therefore, it is no surprise that demand for seats in 2017 threatened to outstrip supply as far back as August.
Nevertheless, the event stays at the Monarch Suite – the largest of the function rooms at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole – in 2018, when the gala presentation evening will take place on 31 October.
Tickets will go on sale late spring/early summer 2018. Therefore, the advice as always is to book early to avoid disappointment.
Details of all the 2017 winners and lists of the shortlisted finalists can be found in the Winners’ Brochure, which was distributed to guests on the night and is reproduced in this issue of routeone and also on the dedicated routeone awards website www.routeoneawards.com
Meanwhile we must say a very big thank you to all our Award Partners for their support: Distinctive Systems, Don’t Travel Empty, Euro Bus Expo, FTA, Gas Bus Alliance, Knorr-Bremse, Lytx, Mercedes- Benz, Millbrook, miniplus, Optare, Scania, SmartDrive, Volvo and Yutong. And our Partners: Goodyear, Irizar UK, John Hill Coach Sales, Siemens Financial Services, and uTrack. While not forgetting our Supporters: Alfatronix, Dawsonrentals, JCD Recruitment, Lloyd Morgan, Nimbus Journey Information, Novadata, Personal Group, Total UK, TruTac and Voith Turbo.
Thank you all for making the night possible.
And let us not forget to thank the judging panel – Steve Dewhurst, Chris Heaps, Tony Kennan, Peter Nash, and Kevin Wood – for ensuring that the process of selecting the winners was rigorous, fair and credible.