Author: Neil Miles

Stagecoach and EPM collaborate to drive operational efficiency and best practice

Stagecoach and EPM collaborate

Jun 2024 – EPM Bus Solutions, part of Velociti Group, has been working with Stagecoach Group Ltd to drive operational efficiency and achieve best practice across the group.

The operator has been utilising EPM’s unique operational and commercial management solutions across the business for 20 years.

Stagecoach and EPM collaborate

The initiative empowers groups of ‘super users’ to maximise the potential of the technology, enhancing the user experience and encouraging a more cohesive approach across operations. The sessions are attended by operations and commercial managers, equipping them with skills to disseminate with their teams.

Paul Hillman, Business Operations Support Manager at Stagecoach, said: “We wanted to leverage the existing technology to improve operational and commercial performance, and share best practice across the group. Working collaboratively with EPM, the series of user group forums connects key teams, technology and processes. This enables us to develop knowledge faster and adapt quicker, as well as having a structured way of ensuring we are getting the greatest benefit from our investment in EPM’s platforms.”

Stagecoach account manager Josh Mellor said: “We want our clients to get the most out of our unique technology and the user forums are a great way to share knowledge. In addition, our experts can add value to optimise usage. Whilst running these sessions at Stagecoach, our team identified new ways to configure and develop the system to better serve their needs.”

Reinventing the control room

Technology empowering control room teams

Why control room systems present a barrier to delivering a reliable bus service

The constant overlapping of systems and applications gets in the way of delivering good bus services.

Kurt Cappello, Operations Manager at trentbarton 

Controllers have more sophisticated technology than ever before. There are systems to tell them what’s happening on the road, where the buses are, and which drivers are available for allocation.

There are also systems controllers can use to send instant messages and record incidents to generate lost mileage reports. 

The issue lies in the segregation of these individual systems that operate independently without integration. Control teams frequently find themselves juggling three or four screens simultaneously to retrieve or input data, leading to a significant amount of time wasted on scrolling and clicking between different interfaces. 

Kurt Capello, Trentbarton

“One of the biggest issues is managing multiple different systems at once. Even within the same system you have different applications for different things – lost mileage in one app, staff and shifts in another.” – Kurt Cappello. 

There is no shortage of separate solutions in the control room, and this presents some significant barriers to delivering good bus services. 

Our ebook explores the concept of a single control room platform which brings systems together onto one screen, providing the insight to run a reliable, efficient and profitable bus operation. 

Having a unified control room platform enables controllers to identify issues promptly and take preventive measures before they lead to delays. This ensures buses stay on schedule and passengers reach their destinations punctually. 

Better visibility of vehicle and driver information would enable improved on-the-spot decisions, so routes can be re-allocated quickly with a clear understanding of the cost and the impact of those real-time decisions. By consolidating data from various systems, operators can gain the insights necessary to leverage past experiences and shape a sustainable, successful bus service for the future. 

Reinventing the control room

Technology empowering control room teams

trentbarton to improve end-to-end efficiency with EPM and Omnibus’ integrated cloud technology

13 May 2024 – trentbarton has selected EPM and Omnibus’ cloud technology to drive end-to-end efficiency – including EPM’s new cutting-edge Control360 solution, an industry-first, fully integrated live operations platform for improving service delivery.

trentbarton to improve end-to-end efficiency with EPM and Omnibus’ integrated cloud technology

Control360 will assist the operator’s time-pressured controllers in making the optimal decisions with automated workflows improving efficiency and providing effective communication across the business.

The solution seamlessly brings together vital operational information from individual systems, providing users with an all-in-one operations platform to efficiently manage daily challenges and proactively resolve emerging issues through system alerts and insights, all in one place.

trentbarton will integrate Control360 with two new software implementations. The link with EPM’s incident management system, Traffic, will make it considerably easier to manage lost mileage records in real-time and significantly reduce the amount of data input required to do so.

Control360 will also interact with the Omnibus depot allocation solution, OmniDAS. From one graphical interface in Control360, trentbarton will have complete visibility of all drivers and drag and drop capability to orchestrate changes visually using the same rule validation that exists within OmniDAS. The view can be pivoted by vehicle to allow any changes to vehicles or incidents during operation to be quickly and easily recorded.

Further efficiencies will be gained with the implementation of the OmniENGAGE driver app which will allow drivers to manage their work remotely and independently in real-time. trentbarton will also move its Omnibus scheduling suite to the cloud, bringing new functionality including automatic file management and enhanced team collaboration.

The EPM and Omnibus suite of solutions will support trentbarton with end-to-end efficiency at its Trent, Kinchbus and TM Travel operations.


Mark Greasley, Group Projects Director at trentbarton, said: “Omnibus and Mark Greasley, Group Projects Director at trentbartonEPM’s strong delivery track record and their ability to deliver a total end-to-end solution without relying on outside partners for complementary expertise, make them a valued partner for trentbarton to achieve our growth plans. With their proactive approach to developing new solutions and supporting operators in improving operational efficiency, we are confident our future needs will be met as our requirements evolve.”

Nick Brookes, Software Director at EPM and Omnibus, said: “We are delighted to support trentbarton with end-to-end efficiency, from planning to payroll to BSOG claim.

“Operators have a plethora of tools for managing their networks on the day of operation. But data is often siloed so it is difficult to identify problems unless looking at the right screen, in the right software solution, at the right time.

“Control360 will bring key operational data from all these silos together so operators can make informed, efficient and effective decisions all in one place. By combining this data, it will be easier for trentbarton to ‘join the dots’ to identify problems and will facilitate proactive decision making; identifying problems before they even occur. “No other solution can do this, which further enhances our expertise in passenger transport.”



Omnibus Solutions:

Press contact at Omnibus and EPM:
Harminder Sangha

07538 935 568

Reinventing the control room

Technology empowering control room teams

Customer service in a franchised bus network

Customer service in a franchised bus network

A positive customer experience can enhance passenger satisfaction and loyalty, leading to repeat business and increased bus ridership. When passengers feel valued and well-cared for, they are more likely to choose bus services over other transportation options.

Also, effective customer service can help build a positive reputation for the bus service provider, attracting new customers through word-of-mouth recommendations and positive online reviews.

Good customer service addresses passenger concerns and complaints promptly, improving the overall customer experience and retention. By listening to feedback and continuously striving to meet passenger needs, bus service providers can build trust and credibility with their customers, leading to long-term relationships and increased patronage.

Managing customer service in a commercial network

In a commercial network, bus operators are typically responsible for managing customer service directly. This involves setting their own standards and protocols for handling customer inquiries, complaints, and feedback, as well as ensuring that buses are clean, safe, and on time.

Bus operators usually have dedicated customer service teams or representatives who are trained to address passenger needs and concerns. These teams are responsible for responding to customer enquiries, resolving complaints, and collecting feedback to improve service quality. As well as providing information about routes, schedules, fares, and any service disruptions or changes.

Managing customer service in a franchised network

In a franchised bus network customer service becomes the responsibility of the transport authorities, a structured customer service model would need to be established to ensure a seamless and efficient experience for passengers. Several key areas need to be considered:

Clear service standards: The transport authorities would need to define clear service standards and expectations for customer service, including response times, complaint resolution procedures, and quality benchmarks.

Training and support: Providing comprehensive training and ongoing support to customer service teams on how to deliver excellent customer service, handle enquiries and complaints effectively, and represent the franchise brand positively.

Communication channels: Establishing multiple communication channels for customers to reach out with feedback, complaints, or enquiries, such as phone, email addresses, website forms, social media platforms, and in-person customer service centres.

With social media, email, and websites being used more by passengers, this has resulted in an increase in the speed and frequency of feedback, as well as customer expectations rising for faster responses.

How technology can help

Technology plays a crucial role in helping transport authorities to get ahead of their new responsibilities to efficiently manage customer feedback and improve overall service quality as well as enhancing communication with passengers.

Key considerations for a software solution should include:

  • A central repository which automatically consolidates customer feedback from multiple sources (email, website, social media) to get a complete view of customer interactions and identify any issues within the network quickly and easily
  • Visibility of the operating environment with feeds of dynamic and static data giving customer services visibility of any network issues to respond quickly to the customer with a quality outcome
  • Multi-platform communication management to efficiently respond to customers using their preferred channel: social media, email, website and phone
  • Standardised workflows that streamline the investigation process such as generating driver feedback forms and evidence requests to further investigate customer feedback
  • Case management capability that tracks the follow up of all customer feedback, activities, outcomes, and review responses against Service Level Agreement measures
Improving the customer service experience

Finally, factors need to be considered for improvement mechanisms which would feed into building future strategies to better meet the needs and expectations of passengers while enhancing overall efficiency and effectiveness. Key areas include: 

Operator feedback mechanisms: Communication between the transport authority and operator is key; operators need visibility of feedback being received for services they are operating. 

Monitoring and evaluation: Implementing mechanisms to monitor and evaluate customer service performance, such as regular audits, surveys, and feedback collection to identify areas for improvement and ensure compliance with service standards.  

Continuous Improvement and visibility of feedback: Encouraging a culture of continuous improvement by analysing customer feedback, measuring against KPIs and standards, identifying trends, and implementing changes to enhance the overall customer service experience.  

Management information should be shared with operators to collaborate on executing improvement plans and resolving identified driver, vehicle or route issues.


Customer service is essential in increasing patronage in bus services because it fosters passenger satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, ultimately driving growth and success for the network. 

The key areas include standards, processes, systems, training, analytics, and reporting to establish a structured customer service model. This will ensure that passengers receive consistent, high-quality service when using the bus in a franchised network and that the customer service operation is effective, responsive, and focused on meeting the needs of passengers. 

How we can help: 

With franchising gaining prominence, technology will play an increasingly important role. We can help transport authorities to successfully navigate the challenges of managing a customer services function with our Customer Resolution Centre; and provide comprehensive reporting and analytics with our Insights solution, enabling you to make well-informed decisions and build feedback into network improvement plans. 

Enhancing the customer service function

The future of customer service in the bus industry

Creating a unified approach to control room processes

Creating a unified approach to control room processes

Bus operators currently face a host of challenges amidst ongoing uncertainties regarding future funding, driver shortages and escalating traffic congestion.

Many are scrutinising their operations and networks closely, but the teams at Omnibus and EPM Bus Solutions believe the key to addressing the multifaceted issues arising from these challenges lies in enhancing efficiencies and rationalising processes.

EPM and Omnibus Solutions aim to create a unified approach to control room processes by enhancing efficiencies and rationalising processes.
Article featured in the Passenger Transport supplement for ALBUM Conference 2024
The heart of any bus operation

The control room serves as the nexus of any bus operation where drivers, duties and vehicles align to ensure a high-quality service is offered to the ultimate customer – the passenger.

In an ideal scenario, these elements seamlessly intertwine but reality often diverges from this perfection – driver absences, vehicle breakdowns and unforeseen road closures disrupt what’s planned leading to swift and often pressured decision-making by control room teams.

Most modern operator control rooms boast an arsenal of technological resources aimed at facilitating accurate decision-making, but all too often these are disparate, standalone systems and a unified, consolidated perspective still needs to be discovered. This absence creates formidable obstacles to achieving the service delivery passengers expect.

To tackle these obstacles effectively, there’s a pressing need for a unified, comprehensive overview of the operator’s entire activities. “We know there is no shortage of technology in bus operators, but what they don’t have is a single, consolidated view of what’s going on,” says Nick Brookes, Software Director for EPM and Omnibus.

“A consolidated view can empower controllers to make informed decisions grounded in evidence, ensuring the provision of a timely and dependable service for passengers at an optimal cost.” The potential for efficiency gains is substantial, he adds, stemming from the elimination of the need to navigate disparate applications or input data across multiple screens. Nick continues: “A user-friendly graphical interface offers far greater accessibility to individuals of varying technical proficiencies compared to cumbersome, intricate systems that demand extensive time and effort to master.

Integration is key

Integrated technology stands as the linchpin of EPM and Omnibus’s revisioning of the control room, offering a clearer understanding of operational dynamics. Key to that vision is the launch of Control360.

“Control360 offers controllers an advanced software solution that automatically consolidates operational data from various sources into that single centralised hub,” says Nick. “This empowers control room teams to efficiently address on-the-day challenges, ensuring the delivery of a reliable and high-quality bus service while achieving significant cost savings.” The platform features a comprehensive depot and live view, highlighting exceptions for immediate attention and providing contextual information such as event history and driver behaviour or history.

It’s a theme taken up by Aiden Proctor, Head of Product at EPM and Omnibus: “Integration of EPM and Omnibus’s widely used software solutions in control rooms also eliminates data duplication, ensuring instant accuracy. Moreover, the platform seamlessly integrates information from those platforms with third-party systems, enabling proactive network management to enhance service reliability and quality.

What we’re doing is offering control room staff that chance to make better, more informed decisions.” It means that control room colleagues can anticipate and address issues before they even arise. “It’s about agility and responsiveness, ensuring that every aspect of the bus operation is finely tuned to meet passenger needs and exceed expectations,” adds Aiden. “But it doesn’t stop there. With data at the heart of operations, insights become easily accessible and that helps with more strategic decision-making. Operators can stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changing market dynamics more effectively.”

Building a better bus operation

Looking forward, improved data management and integrated systems will be pivotal in shaping the future of the industry. As operators accumulate a wealth of comprehensive data on every facet of the bus network, they can leverage emerging technologies to further improve their service delivery.

“This growing repository of data serves as a foundation for further innovation,” says Nick. “By consolidating data from various sources, operators can harness the power of machine learning to pinpoint the interplay of factors that have an impact on service delivery, for example, predicting delays based on weather, congestion trends and time and day of the week. “When they have that sort of information to hand, controllers can swiftly adapt and make necessary adjustments to address these two very different circumstances.”

Nick also believes that by utilising artificial intelligence, operators could also analyse historical control room data to identify patterns, optimise bus allocation and schedule their networks to accurately match passenger demand. “But that’s just the start,” he adds. “When all those disparate systems are all linked together, there are opportunities to improve customer service by really drilling into the data and uncovering previously unidentified links that, when solved, can have a demonstrable impact. “Spotting those trends can uncover areas for improvement which make a bus operation fit for the future.

Reinventing the control room

Technology empowering control room teams

ebook – the bus control room reimagined

ebook – the bus control room reimagined

Bus operators need to deliver a high-quality service to increase patronage and revenue. At the same time, operators must work as efficiently as possible to keep costs down.

The control room is key to a profitable bus operation. It keeps services running smoothly every day and directs critical decisions which can make or break a service.  

ebook – the bus control room reimagined
ebook – the bus control room reimagined

However, control room teams are having to key in and access data using disparate systems on multiple screens which makes it hard to resolve problems efficiently. It is also difficult for planning and commercial teams to see the big picture without a consolidated view of the data.  

This ebook explores the concept of a single control room platform which brings systems together onto one screen, providing the insight to run a reliable, efficient and profitable bus operation. 

Download ebook, complete details below:

DfT announces 2024/25 BSOG+ rates

DfT announces 2024/25 BSOG+ rates

22 Feb 2024 – Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a change of BSOG+ rates they will be paying from 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025.

It was set out in the BSOG+ Terms and Conditions that the initial rates were only set until the end of March 2024 and new rates would be announced that reflected the budget made available for the second year of the scheme. The total budget for BSOG+ remains £70m in the 24/25 financial year.

From April, the rates are detailed below:

DfT announces 2024/25 BSOG+ rates

The fuel rates in the table above are in addition to 3.21 pence per kilometre travelled for all fuel types.

All other aspects of the T&Cs and the process for receiving BSOG+ remain the same. Payments covering the quarter beginning 1st April onwards will reflect the new rates above.

Any further queries please email the DfT at

Visit BSOG+ website for information on the scheme.

Take the hassle out of claiming

For a free consultation on how we can assist you with your BSOG claim, get in touch with our expert Matthew Hanlon by completing the online form or call 01527 556940.

DfT updates how concessionary fare reimbursements are calculated

DfT updates how concessionary fares reimbursements are calculated

These are the biggest changes in over 10 years issued by the DfT on how to calculate concessionary reimbursements

The DfT recently issued updated guidance around the reimbursement of concessionary fares in England and published a new reimbursement calculator tool. These are the biggest changes in over 10 years and there are a number of fundamental updates that operators need to be aware of.

DfT updates how concessionary fares reimbursements are calculated

In addition, the DfT have removed their recommendation that LTAs continue to pay reimbursement at pre-Covid levels, therefore operators need to act fast to ensure they are not losing out following the changes.

Within the revised guidance, there are some key changes for operators to consider:

Reimbursement Factor / Demand curves

  • The PTE/non-PTE demand curves are now referred to as urban and non-urban. The criteria for each is unchanged, although the list of urban (i.e. PTE) areas has been updated using the latest census data. Operators should check their scheme documents to ensure the correct demand curve is being applied in 2024/25.
  • The underlying demand curves have been updated. Based upon the work we have undertaken in the vast majority of cases this has led to increases in the reimbursement factor of >10% compared to the previous version of the reimbursement calculator.

Average Fare Foregone / Lookup tables

  • For those operators whose average fare is based on the ‘Discounted Fare’ method, the old Nowcard lookup table has been replaced with four new tables. These are based on the following area types – large urban, medium urban, mixed urban/rural and rural. It is imperative that operators review their scheme documents to ensure LTAs have selected the appropriate lookup table for their area.
  • Although the DfT recommend that one lookup table is used by an LTA for all operators, they do acknowledge there may be circumstances where this is not a fair reflection of an operator’s particular circumstances. Operators should therefore assess their own operations to confirm this aligns with the LTA area – if it doesn’t then the lookup table may be challenged.

Additional Costs

  • Within the marginal capacity costs calculation, the elasticity and default commercial journey percentages have been updated. The basis of inflation has also been updated, which has an impact on the underlying cost per vehicle hour and mile rates. We always recommend that operators run their own marginal capacity cost calculations to ensure the rates, if any, proposed by LTAs are appropriate for their operations. Given how sensitive the DfT’s reimbursement calculator is to operators’ local inputs, over the years we have frequently found that operators are being under-reimbursed in this area.

We have helped operators of all sizes ensure they receive the correct amount of reimbursement since the inception of the free concessionary fares scheme. In the last scheme year, we improved operators’ reimbursement by an average of 17%. Read more on concessionary consultancy services.

To ensure that your concessionary fares payments are maximised, particularly given the recent changes to the scheme guidance, contact us for a free consultation.

Get on route to accurate concessionary reimbursement

2023 reflections and the year ahead

UK bus industry in 2023 and the year ahead

The UK Bus industry is ever-evolving and 2023 has been a year of marked change. This year has witnessed the sector navigating challenges, such as the lingering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and driver shortages, to the ever-present call for greener and more efficient modes of transport. As we approach 2024, we believe the central themes guiding the upcoming year and beyond will revolve around collaboration and adaptability.


UK bus industry in 2023 and the year ahead

To franchise, or not to franchise?

Franchising has undeniably taken centre stage in the narrative of 2023. Introduced in Manchester for the first time since deregulation, this transformative trend looks set to shape the years ahead with Liverpool City Region and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), amongst others, planning to follow suit. With a growing number of councils bracing for upcoming elections, the widespread adoption of the franchise model seems increasingly inevitable. Yet, as this momentum builds, it is important to consider alternative approaches. By leveraging best practices and enhancing the established systems and processes within operators’ existing networks, there’s an opportunity to transition toward a more collaborative future involving Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) and operators.

Against this backdrop and with funding potentially tightening in 2024, bus operators and LTAs must adopt a prudent approach, carefully managing financial resources to ensure operation of the most efficient services possible. The notable upswing in patronage observed this year underscores the need for a sustained and proficient operation. Collaborative efforts between bus operators and LTAs will play a pivotal role, with the latest technology helping to empower LTAs and operators with the intelligence and insights required to fulfil their commitments and uphold network responsibilities effectively.

Incentivised travel and BSOG reform

The introduction of the £2 bus fare cap in England, not only incentivised bus travel but made it affordable for millions of passengers struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. Introduced as a £2 flat rate fare outside of London until November 2024, the measure has helped to increase patronage post-Covid. However, unless a transitional arrangement is introduced at the end of the current initiative, a potential cliff-edge scenario could see fares increase substantially at the end of 2024, hitting millions of passengers in the pocket and reducing patronage.

The BSOG funding process is set to be reformed, with the Department of Transport and industry bodies set to shape the future of the scheme with a focus on incentivising zero emission vehicles and additional funding for rural services. Depending on the approach, and considering work carried out by EPM in collaboration with Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), changes to the current funding mechanism could have significant winners and losers. With a general election next year it is likely that any reform measures decided on in 2024 will not be implemented until Spring of the following year.

Flexible timetables to meet changing work patterns

Travel patterns have changed, characterised by an uptake in remote work and an increase in leisure travel. Therefore, there is a greater need for LTAs and bus operators to understand these changing behaviours. Timetables need to be fluid and flexibly planned to capitalise on emerging trends and to effectively meet the fluctuating demand. This ensures that the changing needs of customers are not only understood but also met.

Driver shortages

This year has seen a shortage of drivers continue to blight the industry. The CPT has identified that almost 1 in 10 bus driver positions are vacant in the UK which has led to a drop in the number of deliverable services. With attributing factors such as long hours and exhausting shift patterns, there is a need for operators to build stronger relationships with their drivers to address this ongoing challenge. Establishing open communication is vital, and leveraging data becomes paramount in understanding and contextualising driver performance. Additionally, adopting driver-centric technologies can prove instrumental in enhancing driver relations by empowering them to access their schedules remotely and easily request time off or overtime.

Innovation to attract more passengers

The key challenge for bus operators and local authorities in 2024 will be to continue to attract customers. Initiatives such as multi-operator ticketing (MOT) and tap on tap off (TOTO) make bus travel a more attractive proposition, encouraging travel and repeat journeys. However, the key metrics of affordability and reliability will determine the continued success and viability of operations. Amid escalating costs and rising customer expectations, on-the-day decision-making will be critical in ensuring service quality. This demands an evolution of control room systems to provide a complete, holistic view of operations in real-time, helping controllers get ahead of problems on the network and proactively find solutions.

The year ahead

2023 has been a dynamic and transformative period for the industry, marked by challenges and significant developments. As we look ahead to 2024, collaboration emerges as a central theme, with franchising gaining prominence and funding set to reshape the sector.

Technology will play an increasingly important role, helping bus operators and LTAs to successfully navigate these challenges and help the bus industry to go from strength to strength.

Solutions to support the year ahead:

  • For planning and managing franchise networks ETM DAS and Contract Performance.
  • To improve driver retention and communication a driver app such as OmniENGAGE.
  • Empowering control room teams to efficiently manage and resolve on-the-day issues to deliver a quality bus service, as well as achieve significant cost-savings with Control360.
  • Data / intelligence streamlined with Insights providing management teams with a comprehensive view, enabling them to make well-informed decisions.
  • Flexible timetable display solution, OmnSTOPdesign, allows for efficient and cost-effective turnaround for roadside publicity.

Ready to start driving forward in 2024? Get in touch to build a tailored solution today

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

DfT extends BSOG+ registration to 29 December 2023

Lady at computer using calculator. DfT extends BSOG+ registration to 29 December 2023

Operators have you registered to BSOG+

The DfT have reopened the registration window of the BSOG+ scheme to the 29 December 2023. Operators will be able to claim BSOG+ from 1 January 2024, rather than 1 July 2023, which was the commencement date of the scheme.

Lady at computer using calculator. DfT extends BSOG+ registration to 29 December 2023

How to register

The Bus Service Operators Grant Plus (BSOG+) is a new grant running from 1 July 2023 until 31 March 2025. Following recent re-issuing of the Terms and Conditions for BSOG+, the DfT have opened a new window for operators to join the scheme, if they have not already signed up.

Operators who wish to sign up to receive BSOG+ should review the T&Cs and submit a signed declaration form to by 29 December 2023. It is important the eligibility criteria and data requirements is reviewed before submitting a signed declaration form to sign up.

Operators who are accepted onto BSOG+ will receive payments for eligible commercial services run between 1 January 2024 and 31 March 2025. It is important to note that BSOG+ funding will not be paid to those subject to debt recovery for BSOG or another Government Bus Funding Grant Scheme.

If you have already returned your declaration form to sign up to BSOG+, then you do not need to take any further action.

Read FAQs on BSOG+ and download the declaration form. Any further queries email

Take the hassle out of claiming

For a free consultation on how we can assist you with your BSOG+ claim, get in touch with our expert Matthew Hanlon by completing the online form or call 01527 556940