Author: samantha.heeks

CILT webinar: Building an efficient bus operation and retaining drivers

The bus industry is navigating its way through a challenging operating environment with changes in travel routines and driver shortages making the demand for bus services increasingly complex. To overcome these challenges, bus operators need to become more operationally efficient.

The live webinar which was delivered on the 17th January in conjunction with the CILT UK, Nick Brookes, our Software Director, and Aiden Proctor, Omnibus Product Owner, discussed how bus operators can make their transport business more efficient whilst retaining and engaging their workforce.

eBook – Building an efficient bus operation in today’s world

Our eBook discusses how to measure the performance of each of the components which make up an efficient, profitable, and sustainable bus operation.

Complete the below form to download our eBook.

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

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Roberts Travel Group BSOG claim increased by 17.5% with EPM auditing services

Claiming Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) funding can be a complex and time-consuming task for an operator, as well as challenging to know whether they have claimed for everything they are entitled to, which was the case for Roberts Travel Group.

Roberts Travel Group is an independent operator founded in 1995 with a fleet of 85 coaches and buses. Based in Leicestershire, they provide a variety of services including coach holidays and day trips, private hire, school services, and park & ride services.

For an independent operator like Roberts Travel Group, the BSOG claiming process can be time-consuming and takes up valuable resources. Previously, Roberts Travel Group had submitted its own BSOG claims that were audited and certified by its statutory accountant. As the scheme has developed and the rules have become more complex, they found the process more difficult.

Jayne Sabido, Finance Director at Roberts Travel Group, said, “the rules became increasingly difficult to understand, we knew the basics, but we were unaware of the extra things we could claim for. We used accountants in the past for auditing, but it wasn’t their field of expertise.”

SOLUTION

Following the initial call and a review of previous submissions, Matthew Hanlon, BSOG Director at EPM Bus Solutions, identified areas where they were underclaiming. Roberts Travel Group were unaware that they could claim for their tendered services, which is a common misconception. The EPM BSOG team also identified several vehicles that qualified for the low carbon incentive that had not been included in previous claims, and they reworked fuel consumption data to account for odometer changes.

Jayne Sabido commented, “The EPM BSOG Auditing team are amazing. The whole process from start to finish was smooth, they explained each stage of the process to us and handled the correspondence with the Department for Transport. This meant we could focus on other areas of the business, and we were confident the BSOG claim was in safe hands. I would recommend EPM Bus Solutions to all operators, no matter how big or small, who is struggling with their BSOG claims.”

EPM Bus Solutions provided a full audit report, including an evaluation and the completed PSV311 claim form, which was signed and dated by Roberts Travel Group. After the submission, the Department for Transport raised some standard queries as part of their processing routine, which the EPM BSOG team responded to on behalf of Roberts Travel Group with no changes to the figures as certified.

Matthew Hanlon, “It’s common for areas to be missed when submitting BSOG claims, especially for small and independent operators who may not have the resources. EPM Bus Solutions has over 30 years of experience in BSOG auditing, and we are dedicated to ensuring all claims are compliant, accurate, and maximised for our clients.”

RESULTS

Through EPM Bus Solutions, Roberts Travel Group increased their BSOG claim by 17.5% as well as freeing up valuable management time to focus on other business priorities.

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

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Solutions certified on Government’s G-Cloud 13 Framework

EPM Group, Omnibus and EPM, is certified on the new Crown Commercial Services ‘G-Cloud 13 framework’ which went live in November 2022.

The G-Cloud Digital Marketplace is an online service allowing public sector organisations to buy cloud software and services from approved suppliers. The framework is an agreement between government and suppliers of cloud services. Buying services through the framework is faster and more cost-effective than entering into individual procurement contracts.

Public sector bodies can purchase the following services from us via the Digital Marketplace:

Access EPM and Omnibus on GOV.UK Digital Marketplace.

Read more on the Crown Commercial Service.

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

Get in touch to build a tailored solution today

Local Transport Authorities: Utilising ETM Analysis to support BSIP reporting

Since the launch of the National Bus Strategy (NBS), there has been a drive for Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) and bus operators to work together to increase patronage.

Prior to the NBS, LTA’s could step in to ensure socially necessary services were provided when gaps existed within the commercial network.  The NBS takes this further, expanding the category to include the delivery of economically necessary services to connect people to places of employment and education.

With a push for more comprehensive services from the Government, there is likely to be an increase in contracted services across LTAs once their Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) funding is in place.

With a potential increase in contracted routes for LTAs as a result of the NBS and BSIPs, having access to ETM data across their contracted network will be important when reporting on patronage on these services.

Why is ETM data important?

ETM data provides LTAs with strategic insight enabling them to gain a deeper understanding of their contracted network by giving a clear view of patronage and revenue performance. Having visibility of all passenger transactions allows LTAs to spot passenger trends and identify routes, trips, and times of the day with low patronage.

The data also enables analysis of cost per passenger. This level of insight can then be used to make informed decisions about the performance of the network and individual routes to ensure funding is invested in the correct areas.

However, with contracted services often being shared between multiple operators within authorities, gathering in-depth data can be complex and time-consuming.

Utilising software to conduct commercial analysis and save time

Software such as the EPM ETM Analysis platform can provide LTAs with a consolidated view of ETM data from all operators who service their contracted routes in one place, reducing administrative tasks and saving valuable time.

Furthermore, the reports engine function within the platform and integration with EPM Insights enables reporting against defined KPIs to provide analysis of performance against BSIP KPI’s easy.

EPM Group

With over 30 years’ experience in software and consultancy services, EPM Group has a comprehensive knowledge of the bus industry and works with four of the seven PTEs in the UK as well as a range of local authorities to streamline their organisational processes.

Our broad, fully integrated software range covers a multitude of functions from operations to commercial and engineering. To book a free consultation to see how we can assist with your challenges and requirements, complete the online form, or call 01527 556940.

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

Get in touch to build a tailored solution today

eBook – The future of customer service in the bus industry

Customer Service

Customer service is an important aspect of any industry, and the bus industry is no different. Bus operators and transport authorities must deliver exceptional services to increase customer satisfaction and grow patronage.

However, there are a variety of factors that are making customer services increasingly complex for the industry. 

Customer Service

Customers have high expectations; they have become accustomed to personalised and quick responses, and the way they provide feedback has evolved to include social media, email, and websites. This alongside changes in travel routines, driver shortages, and the National Bus Strategy requirement to share data and build into improvement plans has resulted in customer service teams in bus operations facing new challenges.

Our eBook discusses the challenges customer service teams in bus operations face and explores ways bus operators can adapt and enhance their customer service function to thrive in the current climate where the customer experience is key to a successful business.

Complete the below form to download our eBook.

Warrington’s Own Buses select EPM’s new solution, Customer Resolution Centre, to improve customer satisfaction

Warrington’s Own Buses are the first adopters of EPM’s Customer Resolution Centre which accelerates responding to customer issues, enhancing their service experience.

The EPM Customer Resolution Centre is a one-of-a-kind solution developed specifically for the bus industry, customer feedback is automatically collated from multiple sources across the bus operation into a central hub, along with complete visibility of the operating environment, enabling customer service teams to respond to customers quickly. The platform allows users to streamline the investigation process, automate workflows, and analyse customer service data.

Customer Resolution Centre

The system integrates with EPM’s Bus Incident Reporting Screen (BIRS) providing valuable insight in real-time into what is happening across the network including road traffic, accidents, and breakdowns enabling them to resolve customer queries promptly. It also integrates with EPM’s Insights solution to provide in-depth advanced analytics to build into improvement plans.

Ben Wakerley, Managing Director of Warrington’s Own Buses, said: “The way our customers are communicating with us has evolved to include social media, our website, and email, and although we welcome this shift in communication, we needed a system to help us adapt to the change.”

“The Customer Resolution Centre platform will revolutionise our customer service function by giving us the capability to access all the information we need in one place. Having the information easily accessible will enable us to efficiently investigate the root cause, resolve issues quickly, and analyse the data to enhance our customer service function.”

Ian Churchill, CEO of EPM Group, commented: “We are pleased to be working with Warrington’s Own Buses on the adoption of this exciting new technology, supporting them to manage customer feedback efficiently and giving them the capability to deal with feedback from across many communication channels, in line with the world we live in today.”

–END–

Press contact at EPM Group: Harmi Sangha, Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

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Optimising control room and engineering communication to improve operational efficiency

Optimising control room efficiency image

Bus operators have invested in multiple control room software systems from depot allocation to incident management in order to run a smooth operation. To maintain operational efficiency, they need to work in harmony as often an action or data point in one system has an impact on another.

But without integration, this can lead to double entry of data, which is an inefficient use of time and can lead to inaccurate data. Also, the team can make poor service decisions if all the relevant information is not easily accessible to them.

Optimising control room efficiency image

Improve communication

Control room teams and engineers rely on each other for information. The engineer needs to know when a vehicle has broken down, what to expect when attending or dealing with a breakdown and if a driver has reported a vehicle fault. In most instances, the engineer only discovers a vehicle problem when they receive a message from the operations team, and this does not always include all the key information they require to efficiently deal with the problem.

The depot controller needs support from the engineering team to keep the service running by providing the required vehicles. They need to know when a vehicle is available after being worked on by the engineering team. The receipt of this information can be slow, and this results in a delayed resolution to a time-critical problem.

Communication between controllers and engineers can be poor or slow due to several reasons. The control room and engineers are often based in different parts of the site and can be completely remote from each other. But more importantly, both functions use different software tools, so email and phone calls are the current means of communicating and sharing data.

What is the solution?

An operator’s engineering teams use a range of software solutions and providers to manage vehicle maintenance, inventory and costs. Integrating these third-party solutions with your vehicle allocation and incident management systems can improve operational efficiency by automating data flows.

For the engineer, this means that when the depot controller records a vehicle defect, the data is automatically populated in the system with the relevant incident categorisation against the correct vehicle. Time is saved as there is no need to enter the data manually; the system is updated automatically as soon as the driver reports the incident to the operations team.

For the depot controller this means that when a vehicle is taken off the road for maintenance it is automatically marked as not available for allocation. Similarly, when it is released by the engineering team using their software system, the vehicle immediately appears as available in the depot allocation system. The controller does not waste time chasing the engineer on the vehicle’s status.

The controller can also supply details of vehicle incidents, with details of the bus and any defects, straight to the engineering team. This saves valuable time as there is no need to rewrite the information in an email or relay it over the phone. Furthermore, the controller does not need to then mark a vehicle as unavailable in the allocation system because that is updated automatically as soon as the engineer takes it off the road. A double timesaving for the operator!

How EPM Group can help

With over 30 years’ experience in software and consultancy services, EPM Group has comprehensive knowledge of the passenger transport industry and well-established software solutions.

We offer an end-to-end solution. For engineers and depot controllers, we can integrate with engineering software solutions to improve your operational efficiency by automating communication and data transfer. As soon as an incident occurs, it can be logged through the Bus Incident Reporting Screen (BIRS) in the EPM Traffic system and reported to engineering. Engineering can quickly process the issue and make the vehicle unavailable, and this is then automatically updated in OmniDAS (the complete depot allocation system offered through our sister company, Omnibus Solutions).

To book a free consultation to see how we can assist with your challenges and requirements, complete the online form or call 01527 556 940.

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

Get in touch to build a tailored solution today

Team Spotlight – Amy Hollier, Internal Recruiter

In this month’s team spotlight we sit down with Amy Hollier, who recently joined the EPM Group as our Internal Recruiter.

How would you describe a typical day in the life of an Internal Recruiter?

Any recruiter will agree that recruitment is a rollercoaster, you have to be able to roll with the punches, but this is what keeps me going, no two days are the same!

How does your role contribute to the company’s overall success?

I think people are at the heart of any business. Recruiting the right people is pivotal to success. If we have the right people and they are happy doing their jobs, the world is our oyster.

What do you most enjoy about working at EPM / Omnibus?

I am enjoying the challenge, it’s very busy but I enjoy that part. I also love working with all the different teams and senior management. Everyone is so helpful and supportive, so I have a big thank you to say to a lot of people who have made me very welcome.

What is the biggest achievement of your EPM / Omnibus career?

I think for me, my biggest achievement is the relationships I have built with hiring managers and the wider team. I feel that we have managed to work well together and got things moving quickly. It was important to me to be able to come in and have an impact on the business.

As we continue to expand the team, what advice do you have for someone joining the team?

I would say invest in spending time with key teams or people. There are so many knowledgeable people here and everyone really wants to help so take advantage of that and take in all you can.

How do you anticipate the industry may change over the coming years?

I think it’s fair to say the industry is evolving and always becoming more technologically and digitally advanced. Great news for us as this is what we are here to do! I also think there will be more environmental focus with everyone making a conscious effort to be greener.

Outside of work, how do you spend your spare time?

Honestly, my favourite pastime is eating out which also means I have to enjoy working out (I am still working on enjoying that as much though). I am also very family oriented so enjoy spending lots of time with them.

Who is the person who inspires you most?

My daughter, she inspires me to be the best I can be every day.

Tell us a random fact about you – the silliest, most daring or spontaneous thing you have ever done you’ve ever done is?

I will be honest, this is a difficult one for me as generally, I am a very sensible person (boring I know). My mum would probably say the silliest thing I ever did was dye my hair bright purple and pink when I was 27 but to be honest, I loved it, so the style stayed for a good 12 months.

Interested in a role in transport management?