Author: samantha.heeks

Evaluation of the £2 bus fare cap

Interim report of the £2 bus fare cap.

The £2 bus fare cap was launched by the Department for Transport (DfT) on 1 January 2023. The scheme supported bus operators to implement a £2 cap on eligible single tickets for adults.

The aims of the fare cap were to save passengers money and encourage more people back on the bus.

The DfT has commissioned an independent evaluation by Frontier Economics and SYSTRA of the bus fare cap, focusing on the early observations from the first month of the scheme.

Observations from the first month include:

  • respondents in the North West were most likely to report paying a £2 fare and those in the South East were least likely
  • respondents in urban areas were more likely to report paying a £2 fare than rural areas
  • respondents with a household income of up to £50,000 were more likely to report paying a £2 fare than those with a higher household income
  • respondents without access to car/van as a driver were more likely to report paying a £2 fare than those with

Read the full report: £2 bus fare cap interim report

Concessionary Analysis

Empowering you with new levels of control and visibility.

Concessionary travel statistics: year ending March 2022

Concessionary travel statistics for England for the year ending March 2022 have been published by the Department for Transport.

These statistics cover:

  • older and disabled concessionary passes
  • concessionary bus journeys
  • payments made by TCAs to reimburse operators
  • financial breakdowns for operating concessionary schemes

In England, comparing the year ending March 2022 with the year ending March 2021, there were:

  • 8.7 million older and disabled concessionary travel passes, down 3%
  • 555 million concessionary bus journeys, up 104%
  • £803 million reimbursed to bus operators by TCAs, down 5% (constant prices)
  • £1.01 billion in net current expenditure on concessionary travel, down 6% (constant prices)

Read the full report: Concessionary travel statistics, England, year ending March 2022

Concessionary Analysis

Empowering you with new levels of control and visibility.

EPM Group aims to deliver on customer service

Software solutions specialist supports bus operators as they transform customer service and rebuild patronage.


The bus industry is facing some significant challenges when it comes to providing high-quality customer service. Despite their very best efforts, many operators need help with staff shortages, traffic congestion, and post-pandemic uncertainty all  impacting service delivery.

Nick Brookes, software director at EPM Group, believes the bus industry needs to react to these challenges and also think ahead to the passengers of the future.

Many of these potential passengers increasingly turn to cost-effective alternatives such as ride-hailing apps and micromobility modes like e-scooters or cycle hire. Younger generations are also less likely to use traditional public transport.

Article featured in the Passenger Transport supplement, The ALBUM Report 2023.

“Against this backdrop, customer expectations more generally are rising: people expect a more personalised experience and also the ability to provide feedback on their journey,” says Nick. “This puts pressure on bus operators to transform their customer service delivery and provide a more tailored and responsive service.”

The customer service challenge

Bus operators are also increasingly recognising the significant role that good customer service plays in responding to those challenges.

“Many operators acknowledge they need to enhance customer engagement, but there are other factors also contributing to this shift in attitude,” adds Nick. “The National Bus Strategy requires operators to demonstrate wholesale improvements in customer satisfaction and partnership working with Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) will inevitably require them to demonstrate its happened using KPIs.”


Customer service is therefore a crucial factor that should not be overlooked. “Not so long ago that feedback would have come from a small number of channels,” says Nick. “Passengers would have either written a letter to the operator or called their customer service team.

It’s completely different today, of course. Yes, those channels still exist, but there’s now also email, Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp to consider. The ability to proactively communicate across multiple platforms is now critical.”

Offering a consolidated view

So how can operators get a handle on managing customer service? Nick believes the answer lies in EPM’s Customer Resolution Centre platform, a single system that automatically collects feedback from a variety of sources, effectively managing the process and providing a consolidated view of all communication.

“It has been designed to ensure that no feedback slips through the cracks unnoticed,” he adds. “Customer Resolution Centre consolidates data from social media networks and websites along with more traditional communication methods, such as face-to-face or telephone calls, to reduce the time spent recording customer interactions.

Managing these very different communication channels can be time-consuming, so it’s really vital that operators ensure they have the right systems in place to collect the data they need.”

Built-in workflows ensure that every comment, complaint or commendation is assigned to the appropriate department for investigation, and the passenger also receives a notification about how their feedback is being handled. It’s an approach that Nick says has been designed to save staff time and make it easier for them to keep on top of all customer communications.

He continues: “Traditional methods of investigation can be time-consuming and frequently run the risk of straining relations with both passengers and between teams, but operators these days have access to a wealth of data captured in standalone systems, such as real-time information systems, and it seems logical to use that information to help resolve the issue.”

Nick highlights how Customer Resolution Centre can work across different platforms. Investigators can swiftly retrieve data on the route, timetable, vehicle, and driver, even with the most basic of details and that means investigation times can be reduced, allowing the case to be efficiently resolved.

“When looking at data such as ticketing information, driver logs, and congestion reports on their own, little actionable insight can be gleaned from them,” he adds. “However, when these disparate data sources are combined and analysed alongside customer feedback – effectively a single source of truth – a much clearer picture emerges. It means operators can identify network issues or routes where extra running time may be needed.”

Customer service teams inevitably spend more time dealing with complaints than commendations, not because the service is poor, but because passengers are more likely to report negative experiences. Nick stresses it’s important to focus on positive feedback.

“There are well-known industry driver recruitment and retention issues, so ensuring any positive messaging gets back to the driver concerned to recognise their good work is an important aspect of an operator’s driver retention strategy,” he adds.

Nick also feels that Customer Resolution Centre can improve compliance. “That consolidated view means you’re capturing a comprehensive snapshot of the business,” he says. “There isn’t the risk you’re missing silo datasets, so there are some real benefits when it comes to Traffic Commissioners and regulatory compliance.”

A key focus

EPM has been placing significant emphasis on improving control room processes for some time now with its BIRS (Bus Incident Reporting System) tool enabling operators to work more flexibly and efficiently. Nick adds the company now wants to build on this by consolidating all information flows in and out of the control room into one solution.

He says this will be crucial in allowing control room staff to make more informed and proactive decisions. By integrating data from different systems, like Customer Resolution Centre, and using historical data to identify trends, the aim is to eliminate silos that currently exist.

“The goal is to improve operator efficiency and that’s a key priority for us,” Nick concludes.

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

EPM Group aims for innovation in the efficiency chain

Software solutions specialist aims to support bus operators as they grapple with uncertainties.

It’s a challenging time for bus operators with continuing uncertainties surrounding future funding, the building back of patronage following the Covid-19 pandemic, driver shortages and increasing traffic congestion.

Many are placing their operations and networks under the microscope, but software solutions specialist EPM Group (EPM  Bus Solutions and Omnibus Solutions) believes the answer to many of the problems created by these complex issues can be found by focusing on improving efficiencies and streamlining processes.


Article featured in the Passenger Transport supplement for UK Bus & Coach 2023.

“We’ve been working very closely on the efficiency chain,” says Nick Brookes, software director at EPM Group. “We are looking at the complete range of interactions that take place in any bus operator to see how we can help them realise savings and become even more agile.”

The focus of EPM Group is on realising efficiencies by creating an integrated operational platform. The key components of this vision are drivers and depot allocation, customer services and accidents, and engineering processes.

“We want the data and processes from each of those stages to talk to one another,” explains Nick. “Bus operators create huge amounts of data, but a lot of it is lost in translation. We want to take the data and translate it into information that enables bus operators to become more efficient.”

Helping with driver retention

Driver and vehicle allocation has been a key focus for the group. The Omnibus depot allocation system, OmniDAS, for real-time driver and vehicle management has been enhanced with a move to the cloud and the addition of a smartphone app that creates a complete self-service system for drivers to manage their working life. This includes the ability to offer   remote sign-on facility, meaning drivers don’t even have to visit their home depot to sign on for work each day.

Nick believes the sum of these parts is a system that can assist operators to improve their driver retention goals, an important development at a time when much of the industry is struggling with shortages.

“It can really help drivers manage their home life while ensuring they are informed and connected with their colleagues,” he explains. “They can see their shift patterns, apply for overtime, swap their shifts – in other words, they don’t have to go to a front desk or speak to someone. There’s still oversight of what’s going on, but it becomes a back-office process. It makes things more efficient for everyone.”

Nick reveals there are plans to build on this self-service approach. A new bulletin board system within the app aims to supplement the traditional depot noticeboard, allowing staff to review important company information on the go.

Further enhancements are likely to see the app integrated into EPM’s accident management systems, in other words, drivers will be able to record vital details and evidence in the immediate aftermath of an accident. And on that EPM plans to later this year improve its accident reporting solution with new features that will assist operators in tracking accidents from when they happened right through to closure and then analysis afterwards. Nick adds this will allow operators to scrutinise insights that will help them drive down the possibility of a similar accident reoccurring.

Integrating systems

Those plans to integrate the app and accident reporting hint at other aspirations. Nick is keen to evolve the EPM Group of solutions into an expanded platform that helps bus operators realise efficiencies. He describes this as being about creating a “single source of truth”.

“What we want to do is create outputs for operators that offer a good, accurate and consistent overview,” he adds. “We want to streamline workflows and integrate them across the business.”

Nick highlights the operations platform elements of EPM’s offering. “Our Customer Resolution Centre is integrated into that,” he explains. “We wanted it to work harder to help operators rebuild patronage and it’s an area where some operators have struggled in the past.”

While other systems are about logging these interactions, EPM’s platform aims to be more proactive in addressing them. It can automatically consolidate customer feedback from multiple sources to produce a complete overview of customer interactions.

“It means operators can respond to customers quickly and efficiently from a range of platforms, including social media,” adds Nick. “Downstream processes, such as creating feedback forms from the staff involved or evidence requests are automated. It’s about resolving the issue quickly and creating a consolidated view of the entire process.”

Another example of that integration is in engineering systems. While EPM has no plans to create an engineering solution of its own, it is working with third-party providers to ensure systems ‘talk’ to one another in order to streamline processes.

Nick says a good example is if a vehicle is off-road for repair: the engineering system will talk with EPM’s systems to ensure the depot allocation system (OmniDAS) knows that the vehicle can’t be allocated for work for that day. It means that telephone calls or potentially unreliable paper-based methods between engineering and operations departments are avoided and there’s also the advantage that the entire process is automated.

Tying it all together

A big focus for some time for the EPM Group product team has been on control room processes.

“Our BIRS (Bus Incident Reporting System) solution enables operators to work flexibly and efficiently, but we want to expand on that,” explains Nick. “A lot of information already flows into and out of the operator’s control room, and we want to consolidate that data into a single dashboard. This is a key focus for us because it will allow control room staff to make more informed and proactive decisions.”

He adds that this process will take disparate systems out of their silos, consolidate them and then use historical data to allow operators to determine trends.

“Efficiency is a big focus for us this year,” Nick concludes.

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

Warrington’s Own Buses improves efficiency with EPM Insights

Warrington’s Own Buses is an independent bus operator which has been operating since 1902, serving communities in Warrington and surrounding areas.

With a fleet of 118 buses, carrying over 6 million passengers per year, and covering approximately 5 million kilometres per annum, they needed easily accessible and accurate data to inform their improvement plans.

The challenge

As part of running the operation and measuring performance, the team at Warrington’s Own Buses were manually collating data from several systems across the business to gather basic information on their operational KPIs.

Collating the information from a number of different reports was time intensive, there was an increased risk of error, and had the potential to impact data integrity. They needed a solution that enabled them to have easy access to the management information and confidence that it would be accurate.

“Generating management reports involved a lot of manual work and it wasn’t just one person in the business undertaking this, a number of team members were doing the same task for different reasons. It wasn’t a smart way to work, taking up a vast amount of hours which would have been better spent on managing the business rather than on collecting data.”

Katie Cringle, Operations Director, Warrington’s Own Buses


Why EPM?

Warrington’s Own Buses, an existing customer using EPM and Omnibus solutions, selected EPM’s Insights platform to overcome the challenges they faced with data and reporting.

“I like the responsiveness of EPM and Omnibus, they strive to go above and beyond. They are always looking to evolve and meet customers’ needs, we were impressed with the Insights software and were confident it would provide us with the management reporting we needed quickly in an easy-to-use platform.”

Katie Cringle, Operations Director, Warrington’s Own Buses


The solution

EPM worked closely with Warrington’s Own Buses to develop a suite of dashboards specific to their requirements, covering a wide range of their business operations, drawing the data from their existing EPM and Omnibus systems.  Each dashboard provides insight into an area of their business, and where appropriate, the dashboards allow them to drill down into the detail.

Areas covered include:

  • Passenger numbers and revenue
  • Lost mileage
  • Customer feedback
  • Driver absences, interviews, and disciplinaries
  • Accidents

The data is refreshed multiple times a day, ensuring it is always up to date, with no involvement required from the team at Warrington’s Own Buses. The dynamic reporting capabilities enable them to interrogate data and investigate the root causes of any identified issues.


Implementation process

The implementation process allowed for a seamless transition of data from the multiple reports on various systems into the Insights platform. Workshops were undertaken with key stakeholders to ensure their requirements were met with the final output.


The results

Warrington’s Own Buses now has complete visibility of the data from across their network which has improved integration between departments, allowing them to drill down into the data and determine root causes. The platform is used daily across the business to monitor and review performance, having the capability to spot trends and patterns has enabled them to make immediate decisions and put interventions in place where necessary.

Gathering data to create progress reports was time-consuming, but with Insights they have the information available immediately, saving them valuable time each week which they can now use to focus on other areas of the business.

“We all strive for the same metrics and Insights has allowed us to quickly assess the KPIs across different departments. Having complete visibility across the business has led us to work more collaboratively and ensure we’ve all got the same understanding of what the drivers are for the metrics. The platform provides us with the knowledge we need to make informed decisions and drive improvements across the operation.”

Katie Cringle, Operations Director, Warrington’s Own Buses


The future – working in partnership

Warrington’s Own Buses is working closely with EPM on reviewing their dashboards, understanding what other requirements they have, and how we can increase value and evolve the platform further.

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

Get in touch to build a tailored solution today

Visit us at the ALBUM Conference 2023

Join us, EPM and Omnibus, on 25 & 26 April 2023 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh, for ALBUM Conference 2023.

This year’s theme is the changing face of our industry focusing on four pillars within this – policy, customers, products, and colleagues. The event will be a celebration of all areas of the industry looking at both the present and future of the industry, and how we can navigate the challenges and maximise opportunity.

Visit us on stand 37 for product demos and speak with Software Director, Nick Brookes; BSOG Director, Matthew Hanlon; Account Manager, Penny Johnson; Omnibus’ Founder, Peter Crichton; and Product Owner, Aiden Proctor about our software solutions and consultancy services, including:


Event itinerary.

Book your tickets.

Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa
1 Festival Square

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

Get in touch to build a tailored solution today

EPM improves White Bus Services BSOG claim by 23%

White Bus, part of the Rowgate Group, was founded in 1921 and is Berkshire’s oldest independent bus and coach operator. Operating around East Berkshire & North Surrey, they have a fleet of 35 vehicles providing bus services and school and coach contract work to the community.

The challenge

Previously, White Bus had their Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) claims certified by their statutory accountant, but with an increasing workload and a growing business, they found the process was taking up valuable resource and time.

 “I’d go through the terms and conditions, and it was challenging to understand what we could claim for, as the wording can be subjective. It would take up a lot of my time and I felt that our claim was not being maximised.”

-Simon Rowland, Chief Executive Officer at White Bus

The solution

White Bus was recommended to speak with EPM Bus Solutions about their BSOG auditing service.

During the audit, the EPM BSOG auditing team discovered that the operator had vehicles that qualified for the low carbon incentive which they had not been claiming for and the AVL & Smartcard incentives. The team reworked the fuel consumption data to account for odometer changes.

 “The claiming process has been very straightforward with the help of EPM Bus Solutions. They know the industry, the systems the industry use, and where to look for the data. The BSOG auditing team was helpful throughout the process, and I look forward to continuing the relationship with them.”

– Simon Rowland, Chief Executive Officer at White Bus


The operator received a full audit report, including an evaluation and the completed PSV311 claim form. The report included recommendations such as improving the control and housekeeping over the fuel issues and simplifying the reporting.

The results

The EPM BSOG auditing team increased the claim for White Bus by 23%, saving them valuable time so they could concentrate on other areas of their growing business.

“The EPM auditing service is value for money, our claim has increased, and even when taking fees into consideration, there is still a significant increase in our claim. I recommend all small and independent bus operators to seek the help of the EPM auditing team.”

– Simon Rowland, Chief Executive Officer at White Bus

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

Get in touch to build a tailored solution today

See us at the CPT UK Bus & Coach Conference 2023

Join us, EPM and Omnibus, on the 30th and 31st of March 2023 at the Eastside Rooms, Birmingham, for the UK Bus and Coach Conference hosted by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT).

The event brings together operators large and small with supply chain, key stakeholders and Government to debate, discuss and share experience of the big issues facing the industry.

Visit our stand and speak with Software Director, Nick Brookes and BSOG Director, Mat Hanlon about our software solutions and consultancy services, including:

Visit the website: UK Bus and Coach Conference 2023

What’s onConference itinerary

The Eastside Rooms
2 Woodcock Street
B7 4BL

Thursday 30 March 2023, 10:00 – 17:00 hrs
Friday 21 March 2023, 09:00 – 13:00 hrs

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

Get in touch to build a tailored solution today

£2 bus fare cap to be extended and bus services protected with new funding

The government has announced the £2 bus fare cap will be extended for three months to 30 June 2023.

Millions of passengers across England will benefit from £155 million in government support to cap bus fares at £2, maintain services and ensure people can travel affordably.

The Transport Secretary has confirmed £80 million from 1 April to 30 June 2023 to protect vital bus services people rely on for work, education, medical appointments and shopping.

The government has also announced plans to provide up to £75 million so that bus operators can continue to cap single bus fares outside of London at £2 until the end of June, saving passengers money and encouraging more people back on the bus. With the average single local bus ticket costing £2.80, passengers can save almost a third of the ticket price.

Read the full article: £2 bus fare cap to be extended

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

Get in touch to build a tailored solution today

Control Room Efficiency – Streamline the recording of bus driver incidents

Disruption to bus services has a negative impact on the customer experience so it is important that transport operators can manage re-allocation problems on-the-spot and with the least number of processes for faster resolution.

But the impact of driver shortages and staff sickness is increasing workloads for controllers. They use multiple systems to resolve staff-related operational issues and this eats into their time which would be better spent managing the network. How can operators streamline the recording of bus driver incidents and free up their controllers to focus on higher value work?

Challenge: Time lost to manual data entry

Operators use a range of control room systems – often disparate technology that is not integrated – to record information on absences, customer feedback, accidents, lost mileage, and monitoring punctuality and reliability. Each operational action may also require a record to be made or updated on one or more separate systems.

A staff-related incident, for instance, that results in changes to planned mileage is recorded in the depot allocation system and the bus incident reporting screen. If using disparate data sources (systems which function on their own without sharing data or working with other computer applications), the controller rekeys the same information twice; once in each system. This is not only tedious and time-taking but also makes managing disparate databases difficult as the bus operation grows.

Challenge: Rekeying data leads to errors

There is also a lack of data integrity borne out of two different sources of the same information. Re-entering or transferring data is prone to human errors and lack of precision and can result in varying versions of the same information being entered into different systems. In addition, any discrepancy takes time to identify and rectify.

Furthermore, driver availability issues mean operators are cancelling and amending services in lots of different systems. If the controller is distracted and there is a delay in recording information, the data is logged incorrectly or they forget to enter it in one or more systems, this can result in out-of-date information going out to the end-customer.

Data that is manually entered in multiple systems or generated from a variety of sources can become unreliable if it is not consistent. This, in turn, may lead to difficulties with reporting and poor decision-making, and result in significant cost implications for the operator and directly impact the service to the end customer.

Solution: Reduce duplication with software integration

Operators can overcome these challenges by automating interactions between their data systems and in doing so streamline processes. For instance, staff-related changes recorded in the depot allocation system can automatically transfer to the bus incident reporting screen, meaning data only needs to be entered into one system. This reduces the time required to record the incident, therefore, increasing staff efficiencies, and allows for faster response times to solving problems as they arise.

Software integration also ensures operational data across systems is consistent. The removal of duplicate data entry points reduces the opportunities for human error, providing operators with a single source of truth for decision-making and reporting purposes.

How we can help

With over 30 years’ experience in software and consultancy services, EPM Group (EPM and Omnibus) has comprehensive knowledge of the passenger transport industry and well-established software solutions to improve operational agility.

Control Hub automatically consolidates operational data from multiple control room systems into one central location, empowering operators to efficiently manage on-the-day issues and achieve significant cost-savings.

For a free consultation, complete the online form.

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

Get in touch to build a tailored solution today