Category: Bus Operators

We are exhibiting at the ALBUM Conference 2022

Join us, EPM and Omnibus, on 26th & 27th April 2022 at Village Hotel Blackpool for ALBUM Conference 2022.

Focusing on the collective challenge to modernise, decarbonise and digitalise to grow faster in the bus sector, ALBUM Conference features an exciting line-up of key speakers and offers a chance to network with industry colleagues.

Visit us on stand 31 in the main conference room and speak to Software Director, Nick Brookes; BSOG Director, Mat Hanlon; Account Manager, Penny Johnson; and Omnibus’ Founder, Peter Crichton and Product Owner, Aiden Proctor on the latest passenger transport software to increase commercial, financial, and operational performance; from scheduling, to staff rostering, depot allocation and timetabling.

RSVP: Book your tickets

Visit the website: ALBUM Conference


Village Hotel Blackpool
E Park Dr

ALBUM Conference 2022

26th & 27th April

Village Hotel Blackpool

Making the bus operation chain more efficient

EPM Group aiming to empower bus operators to deliver efficiency improvements with the very latest software

Since March 2020 we have all experienced big changes in the way we live, work, shop and play. And public transport is not immune to those wider societal changes, many of which were already established trends before the pandemic. But Covid has only greatly accelerated that process.

Meanwhile, the launch of England’s National Bus Strategy, plus changes to funding mechanisms and industry structure across the wider UK mean bus operators will need to embrace change now more than ever.

Article featured in special edition UK Bus and Coach January 2022 by Passenger Transport

The bus sector is working harder than ever to get people back on the bus while adapting to the so-called ‘new normal’. Behind the scenes, operators are striving to address the challenges of supply and demand and tailoring their networks accordingly, but those structural changes and financial challenges mean operators must also adapt and embrace new ways of working and tailor processes to ensure their businesses are as efficient as possible.

Just under 12 months ago two big names in the world of passenger transport software came together with the purchase by EPM Bus Solutions of leading supplier Omnibus. Bringing these two businesses together offers many natural synergies, but now they are hoping to spark a revolution for bus operators that will help them streamline their operations and business processes and help make them ready for the post-Covid era.

Natural partners

Aiden Proctor, Omnibus’s scheduling suite product owner, takes up the story.

Aiden Proctor“A bus operator is a very complex machine,” he says. “There are a lot of moving parts and there’s a lot of activity taking place to ensure the service is delivered to the passenger. We like to think of those processes that got the bus to the bus stop as a chain, a chain that runs right through the organisation and one that brings together a variety of processes.”

That chain commences when the operator begins planning the shape of their network, perhaps that process may commence with some market research activity or probing historical bus patronage data. It enables the commercial team to configure a network that provides the very best service possible to the passenger.

Aiden continues: “Once that’s in place you can move onto the timetables, then the schedules, driver duties and rotas. By that stage, you’re getting to the point where you need to put drivers onto vehicles and so you’re at the forward allocation process. Then you’re finally at the day of operation and you’re opening the doors of the depot and putting the service out on the road.”

And it is here that many of the solutions that have been developed by EPM take over with platforms that allow control room staff to log day-to-day incidents like accidents, unexpected traffic congestion or bad weather. That process continues beyond the end of the day when the service has been delivered. EPM’s solutions allow operators to determine ‘how well did we do?’ with reporting on patronage, profitability, fuel consumption, customer feedback and reliability. That continues with BSOG calculations and contractual reporting to Local Transport Authorities (LTAs). Aiden says it means there’s quite a complex chain of events going on and each and every link in that chain needs to be managed effectively.

“Obviously with the current climate off the back of Covid, there’s a lot of pressure on operating costs and revenue,” he says. “It’s more important than ever that operators have the most efficient service they possibly can.”

Enhancing service quality and efficiency

He says there are two parts to that process. Firstly, ensuring the service delivered is one that is of very high quality and that it encourages passengers to use it and, ultimately, grow patronage. Secondly, this must be undertaken in the most efficient way possible.

“Those two things are pretty intertwined,” says Aiden. “It gives a good idea of how effective the bus operation is. Quite often that process starts with a high-level dashboard of KPIs containing the obvious things like patronage and revenue through to profitability, engineering quality and customer feedback. This got us thinking – how can we help operators really understand how effective and, in particular, efficient their organisation is?”

EPM began to look at the range of KPIs that the typical bus operator wishes to understand from that chain of events. It helps that that entire chain is for the most part covered by processes that require input from the two companies’ software suite. From the Omnibus products that cover scheduling, rostering, crew duties and depot allocation to the EPM processes that gather the operational data and help operators to understand the revenue, profitability and customer service aspects of networks.

“So, we have most of the data to hand, which we can supplement with some third party data,” adds Aiden. “We began thinking about each individual link and how we can make it as efficient as it can possibly be.”

That process has been split into three broad areas: before the day – covering duties, scheduling and forward allocation; on the day – covering running the service and control room processes; and after the day – where the performance of the service is reviewed.

Assisting control room staff

From these broad areas, the processes are subdivided further by examining what can be measured, exploring the data that is required to improve efficiency further and the KPIs needed to make that process a reality. Meanwhile, the team began exploring how the solutions offered by both EPM and Omnibus can be embedded even further to ensure even more efficiency.

Nick Brookes, EPM’s software director, highlights one area where these moves to improve efficiency could bear fruit.

Nick Brookes“We’ve been looking closely at control room processes,” he reveals. “Traditionally the Omnibus schedules would be imported into the EPM system to give the control room the information about what is planned to operate that day. The EPM system is then used to record the incidents that will inevitably occur throughout the day, so, for example, breakdowns, traffic congestion or accidents that will inevitably have an impact on the service that is actually delivered.”

Nick says there are opportunities to bring together the two systems in a way that give control room staff the very best opportunity to make improvements in real-time. For example, there may be a driver who is delayed by traffic congestion in the first half of their duty, so the control room staff may need to extend their break period before they go back onto the road for their planned second half in order to ensure they meet legal or local requirements.

He continues: “That leads to a problem you have to solve immediately. Traditionally control room staff would have had to switch between different systems in order to determine what spare drivers are available to cover the work. You may also need to see what was planned for the driver to do for the rest of the day so you can devise a plan to solve the problem. What we want to do is to pull all of that data, bring it together in one place and give control room staff the tools to efficiently solve the problem.

“Ultimately, it’s a puzzle and at the moment they are having to use lots of different systems in different places to gather up the information they need to solve the problems that are in front of them. That’s not a particularly efficient way of working.”

Nick adds that once the problem is solved, there are a variety of people located downstream that need to be informed about the changes the control room staff have made in order to ensure as robust a service as possible is delivered on the ground. This could be the engineering department, customer services and certainly both the drivers and passengers are going to need to be informed.

“It’s about sharing and passing information throughout the organisation rather than people having to resort to phone calls and emails,” he says. “These are quite time-critical decisions that need to be made and people in that sort of environment don’t have the time to spend ringing up lots of people to tell them what’s happening; they just need to put the information into one place and from there, everyone is informed about what’s happening.”

Customer-informed process

And EPM is working closely with customers during this process. Nick reveals he has recently spent time in bus operator control rooms in a bid to understand the processes that could be improved. As he notes, it is far better to see these processes in action rather than as a theoretical exercise.

“I’ve been to three or four sites so far and I’m keen to get out to a couple more, just so I can discover where the pressure points are where we can make some serious productivity and efficiency gains by bringing systems together,” he says.

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

These are times of rapid and unpredictable change for bus operators. Running a bus network in a pandemic while addressing the issues of driver shortages, road congestion and the need to plan for decarbonisation is challenging.

To thrive in a changing world, bus operations need to be as efficient as possible. This eBook provides a guide on how to build a sustainable operation.

A bus operation is a complex chain made up of many links which fall into three broad categories: planning the network, delivering the service and performance review. 

To achieve optimum efficiency, each link needs to work in harmony with the others. The difficulty is that maximising the efficiency of one link can have a negative impact on another. 

Discover how bus operators can get this balance right and be ready for whatever the future holds.

Download ebook, complete details below:

Merseytravel selects Omnibus cloud-based scheduling solution

12 Jan 2022 – Merseytravel has extended its software partnership with EPM Group (EPM and Omnibus) through the adoption of the Omnibus cloud-based scheduling suite.

Omnibus’s solution provides users with a range of flexible and easy-to-use tools aimed at improving efficiency and reducing the margin for error when timetabling and scheduling and is accessible from any location.

Jeanette Townson, Bus Development Manager at Merseytravel

Merseytravel is the transport delivery arm of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and has previously worked with EPM Group on the deployment of contract management solution, ETM DAS to monitor the performance of tendered routes in a central hub – reducing administration time and providing data to make cost-effective decisions. In addition, Merseytravel also implemented the interactive analytics platform, EPM Insights which offers strategic insight through real-time management information and dashboards.

The scheduling suite integrates seamlessly with both products, removing the need for manual entry of timetables when preparing to issue a new tender. Timetables and scheduling data is then fed into EPM Insights for visual reporting and analysis.

The Omnibus TransXchange viewer tools can also be utilised to review submissions from operators to ensure compliance with the tender specification, making this process as efficient as possible when dealing with multiple tender submissions.

Jeanette Townson, Bus Development Manager at Merseytravel said: “The implementation of Omnibus scheduling suite will help streamline and increase the efficiency of the tendering process by removing the need for manual data entry.

Previously this process involved creating timetables in Microsoft Word and Excel which was time consuming and difficult to update. The integration of the products and automation capabilities will help ensure data quality and provide significant time savings – freeing up valuable resources to focus on other priorities.”

Ian Churchill, CEO at EPM Group said: “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Merseytravel, and this new integration is testament to the software’s capabilities as well as the value which is achieved with the two businesses, EPM and Omnibus, working together. Driving efficiency is the key goal behind our software solutions and we are committed to helping Transport Authorities improve the effectiveness of their organisation and the success of their networks.”


Press contact at EPM Group: Harmi Sangha,

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Northern Ireland Transport Statistics 2020-2021

5 September 2021 – The latest edition of Northern Ireland Transport Statistics, containing statistics for 2020-2021, is now available on the Dfl website.

The compendium publication is produced by the Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch (ASRB) of the Department for Infrastructure and contains information on the road network, public transport and accessible transport in Northern Ireland.

The key points for 2020-21 public transport are:

  • At the end of 2020-21, there were 1,089 Ulsterbuses, 280 Metro buses and 32 Gliders on the roads which were, on average, 10.2 years, 8.5 years and 2.7 years old respectively.
  • From late March 2020 and during the reporting year 2020-21 there were movement restrictions in place across Northern Ireland due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This has resulted in a reduction in passenger journeys on public transport during 2020-21 when compared to previous years.
  • The number of staff employed at the end of March 2021 was 2,183 (Ulsterbus), 772 (Metro) and 105 (Glider); the corresponding figures for March 2020 were higher at 2,256 (Ulsterbus), 795 (Metro) and 109 (Glider).
  • During 2020-21, there were a total of 25.7 million bus and rail passenger journeys; 22.4 million bus passenger journeys (Ulsterbus, Metro and Glider), a decrease of 67% from 2019-20 (68.3 million), and 3.3 million rail passenger journeys, a decrease of 78% from 2019-20 (15.1 million).
  • Of the 22.4 million bus passenger journeys during 2020-21, 12.2 million were on Ulsterbus, a decrease of 68% from 2019-20 (37.9 million) and 7.5 million were on Metro, a decrease of 67% since 2019-20 (22.7 million), 2.7 million passenger journeys were on Glider services, a decrease of 65% since 2019-20 (7.7 million).

Read the full document: Northern Ireland Transport Statistics 2020-2021

Download the infographic: Northern Ireland Transport Statistics 2020-2021 PDF

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Supporting the industry to Bus Back Better

The UK Government has launched Bus Back Better, the long-awaited National Bus Strategy for England, and it promises a bright future for the industry. It sets out an ambitious vision that will revolutionise the way in which local bus services are provided.

Operators and local transport authorities will work closely together to create a new environment that will spur on genuine improvements for passengers. Meanwhile, for areas that choose to press ahead with franchising their local bus services will now have the means and guidance to allow that to happen.


There’s little doubt that high quality planning will play a key role in meeting the ambition contained within Bus Back Better. The bus strategy calls for high quality integrated public transport. It will see what are today competing operators harmonising their networks and the creation of multi-operator, multi-modal ticketing. This will be incredibly important in helping attracting new passengers to the bus.

Traditionally instigating and managing such a scheme was incredibly complicated but at EPM we have a strong background in this area – we have audited a number of existing schemes for some years, working to ensure operators receive fair reimbursement. As the importance of multi-operator schemes grows and becomes a growing percentage of the average operator’s income, it’s going to become incredibly important that this process is managed fairly and transparently, backed by the very latest usage data.

“It’s important there’s trust,” says Nick Brookes, EPM’s Software Director. “As the value of these schemes from an income point of view increases, the operators need to have the confidence that they are getting a fair share of that pot. Our solutions can take ticket machine data from the operator, off bus sales data and scrutinise the usage and ensure the resulting apportionment of revenue is transparent and fair.”…

Read the full article from Passenger Transport: Beginning the Bus Revolution: Building on the National Bus Strategy for England.

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Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

Changes to BSOG claims processes

11 August 2021 – Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Department for Transport made a commitment that BSOG would continue to be paid to operators at pre-Covid levels for as long as CBSSG payments were being made.

With the CBSSG scheme due to end on 31 August 2021, the Department have now written to operators to advise that following this date they will need to adhere to the pre-Covid BSOG scheme rules.

In effect:

  • Certified claims – all PSV311 submissions should include actual data from 1 September – this will apply to both the eligible kilometres and fuel consumption sections of the certified claim form.

For EPM clients we will advise on the presentation of the PSV311 in advance of your certification audit.

  • Estimate claims – for estimate claims submitted from 1 September, the data should be based on the operations that are expected to be run over the forthcoming year and not pre-Covid operations, as has been the case whilst CBSSG has been paid. For those operators that have already submitted estimate claims prior to this date, they will continue to receive payments on account as previously advised by the Department.

Users of the EPM Traffic system can continue to utilise the estimate function to prepare your BSOG estimate using the current schedule. Where EPM process the estimate on your behalf, we will take into account this guidance.

  • School services – where operators amended registrations from ‘normal stopping’ to ‘school or works’ to comply with social distancing requirements during the pandemic, they were able to continue to claim BSOG. However, this dispensation ceases from 1 September. To receive BSOG for these services going forward, they will need to be registered as ‘normal stopping’. The Department recognise that there is not much time to effect these changes, so they will accept evidence that operators have request a change in the registration particulars in advance of 1 September.

Operators should review all registrations and advise the Traffic Area Office of those which are no longer required to be operated as ‘schools or works’. All correspondence should be kept in case evidence is required for the Department when processing your claim.

EPM are the leading experts in the certification of BSOG claims, ensuring that all claims are accurate, compliant and maximised. If you would like to discuss how we can help you with your claim, then get in touch for a free consultation.

Read the full announcement: DfT BSOG guidance

Take the hassle out of claiming

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Job vacancies – Account Executives

Join our journey!

Driven by successful growth, we’re looking for people to join our Business Development team.

Do you want to work within a fast growing and ambitious organisation, alongside great people with a positive team culture, helping  customers as they search for the best solution for their needs?  If so, these roles could be perfect for you!

Roles: Account Executive and Senior Account Executives

We are looking for an Account Executive and a Senior Account Executive to support our on-going business growth.  These are new roles focussed on both the management of existing customer accounts along with the acquisition of new customers.  You will play a vital role securing existing contracts and developing new sales, helping to build revenue and achieve targets.

To be successful you will have a balance of great customer relationship skills, a determination to succeed, an understanding of the passenger transport marketplace (ideally within the bus sector),  and a successful track record in a sales or customer relationship role.

About us

We are an ambitious, fast moving software business serving the passenger transport marketplace and are growing both organically and through acquisitions. Although UK centric, we are also growing internationally with a footprint in mainland Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  Established over 30 years, we have a large base of long standing customers including blue chip multi-nationals, public sector organisations, mid-market operators and small growing businesses.

In addition to our well established market leading solutions for public transport operators, we are continually developing and launching new products to help customers address the challenges presented by a constantly changing landscape.

In particular, the National Bus Strategy launched early in 2021 by the UK Government, backed by billions of pounds of funding, presents significant opportunities and challenges for the bus sector.  We have reacted quickly to evolve our existing products and develop new functionality to ensure our customers are fully equipped for the future.

Our people are the heart of our business and we have a genuinely people centric culture and team ethos.  All team members have clear objectives and are supported to achieve their best.  Personal development is positively encouraged and we recognise and reward individual achievements.

Both the Account Executive and Senior Account Executive roles come with a great package of strong basic salary, uncapped commission and attractive benefits including pension scheme and private health insurance.

Responsibilities of the roles

Both roles cover the following core responsibilities.

  • Manage relationships with all contacts within designated existing customer accounts to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, ensuring they are gaining maximum value from our products and services, feeding back any issues into the business and driving through resolutions
  • Manage contract renewals with designated existing customers to secure renewals
  • Develop our presence within designated existing customer accounts, growing our contact network, building our understanding of their business challenges, identify new sales opportunities and growing revenue
  • Follow up new business enquiries generated from marketing activity or through personal contacts
  • Utilise our product and industry specialists in a pre-sales support capacity to identify the best solutions for customers
  • Own and develop a pipeline of sales opportunities, working with the marketing team to ensure the pipeline is sufficiently strong to meet sales targets
  • Identify, own, manage and win sales opportunities with both existing and new customers
  • Achieve sales targets for renewals, revenue growth and new business

Requirements for the roles

Account Executive – working with independent / mid-market bus operators and municipal bus companies

  • Knowledge of the public transport environment
  • Understanding of transport planning, scheduling and operations (ideally in the bus sector)
  • Experience of customer utilisation of IT systems and business applications (ideally in the bus sector)
  • Customer engagement experience (ideally sales)
  • Track record of successfully building customer relationships
  • Strong communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Problem solving or solution planning experience
  • Confidence in delivering presentations, demonstrating solutions and writing proposals
  • Strong planning and organisation skills

Senior Account Executive – working with multi-national organisations, PLC businesses and larger groups of bus operators

  • Proven track record managing large, strategically important customer accounts
  • Understanding of complex customer organisations, with multi-level and cross functional engagement
  • Ability to develop strong personal relationships with C-suite level contacts
  • Track record of developing new business within key accounts, identifying or creating sales opportunities
  • Demonstrable ability to execute value based sales campaigns
  • Knowledge of the public transport environment and an understanding of the IT systems used for transport planning, scheduling and operations in the bus sector
  • Strong communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Problem solving or solution planning experience
  • Confidence in delivering presentations, demonstrating solutions and writing proposals
  • Strong planning and organisation skills


If you think this could be right for you contact Gary Hyman, our Business Development Director, for more details:

Government to decarbonise all modes of domestic transport by 2050

bus driving through nice landscape
bus driving through nice landscape

14 July 2021 – The plan provides a world-leading ‘greenprint’ to cut emissions from our seas and skies, roads and railways, setting out a pathway for the whole transport sector to reach net zero by 2050.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said “Transport is not just how you get around. It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, cities and countryside, our living standards and our health. It can shape all those things for good or for bad. Decarbonisation is not just some technocratic process. It’s about how we make sure that transport shapes quality of life and the economy in ways that are good.”

Starting with buses outside London, we want simpler, cheaper, often flat fares that you can pay with a contactless card, with daily and weekly price capping across operators. We must make buses and trains better value and more competitively priced.

Zero emission buses and coaches commitments made in the plan:

  • To deliver the National Bus Strategy’s vision of a transformed bus industry and a green bus revolution
  • Consult on modernising the Bus Service Operators’ Grant in 2021
  • Support delivery of 4,000 new zero emission buses and the infrastructure needed to support them
  • Deliver the first all Electric Bus Town or City
  • Consult on a phase out date for the sale of new non-zero emission buses
  • Consult on a phase out date for the sale of new non-zero emission coaches

Read the full announcement:  Government publishes world’s first ‘greenprint’ to decarbonise all modes of domestic transport by 2050

Read the report: Decarbonising transport: a better, greener Britain

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

£226 million package to support vital bus services

07 July 2021 – Bus operators across the country will benefit from £226.5 million in government funding to help ensure they continue to run vital services as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

The funding will run from September 2021 to April 2022 and will support operators across England, outside of London, cementing the government’s commitment to level up transport links as passenger numbers begin to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The scheme is part of the government’s drive to build back better and greener from the pandemic, as the UK prepares to host COP26 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said:”The recovery funding will ensure vital services continue to run by supporting operators in those initial months, as restrictions are lifted and passengers begin to return in higher numbers.”

Read the full announcement – £226 million package to support vital bus services

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.