Category: Bus Operators

Government unveils new bus strategy with £3 billion investment

happy man in bus
happy man in bus

15 March 2021, Government has announced a new bus strategy along with a £3 billion investment into the sector to encourage people to use buses over cars. The strategy is a complete overhaul to build a better bus services as we recover from the pandemic.

The strategy will see passengers across England benefiting from more frequent, more reliable, easier to use and understand, better coordinated and cheaper bus services.

The changes include:

  • Simpler bus fares with daily price caps, so people can use the bus as many times a day as they need without facing mounting costs
  • More services in the evenings and at the weekends
  • Integrated services and ticketing across all transport modes, so people can easily move from bus to train
  • All buses to accept contactless payments

Through the plans the Government is driving for the fragmented, fully commercialised market, which has operated outside London since 1986 to end. They want to see operators and local councils enter into a statutory “enhanced partnership” or franchising agreements to receive the new funding and deliver the improvements.

Read the full Government announcement on the £3 billion bus revolution

Download the Bus Back Better: national bus strategy for England

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

BSOG for Home to School Services – DfT announcement

lady with covid mask in bus

12 March 2021 – Due to Covid-19 many operators have had to restrict the number of passengers on board their vehicles in order to comply with social distancing requirements. As a result, many school services that had previously been available to all members of the general public became “closed-door” when schools & colleges returned in September 2020, meaning they could now only carry students. Such “closed-door” services are not eligible for BSOG.

lady with covid mask in bus

Initially this was not thought to be an issue as at the outbreak of the pandemic the Department for Transport (DfT) stated that operators could continue to claim BSOG at pre-Covid levels. However, in the case of services which had become “closed-door”, the BSOG Policy Team advised that they would continue to apply the BSOG eligibility criteria and that the services would no longer be eligible for BSOG from the date of the change.

After an internal consultation the DfT have issued guidance confirming that BSOG can now be claimed for “closed-door” Home to School services. The main points from the guidance are as follows:-

  • Commercial school services that became “closed-door” from 1 September 2020 due to C19 can be treated as eligible from this date.
  • Operators must complete a survey to provide information about these school services – to be submitted by 26 March 2021.
  • For those claims that have already been submitted with year ends after 1 September 2020 then a retrospective claim can be made for the services – details to follow from DfT.
  • Due to the short term nature of this arrangement closed-door services should not be included on current or future estimates

Read the DfT Home to School Services and BSOG eligibility letter

Download a copy of the DfT guidance and the Home to School survey.

If you have any questions on the announcement made by the DfT or on the BSOG / CBSSG schemes, please complete the online contact form or call 01527 556940.

Employee spotlight – Ian Churchill, Chief Executive

In this month’s employee spotlight, get to know Chief Executive, Ian Churchill, who joined EPM in February 2020.

Ian has been running software businesses servicing various market sectors for over 20 years.

Name three words you would use to describe your role

Leadership, interesting, team-builder

Where did you work prior to joining EPM?

BigHand – a legal software business

What is your biggest achievement to date?

Professionally – leading the Capita SIMS business for 8 years, during which time we increased our market share to over 80% through delivering quality products and services.

Personally – bringing up two teenagers

Are you working on any interesting projects at the moment?

I have been with the business for 12 months now, and we are making lots of changes, so plenty of interesting things are happening.

The most interesting projects are about expanding the business both through introducing new products, such as Insight; and acquiring other businesses – we acquired Omnibus Solutions last week.

Do you have a favourite film?

Shrek! – I love its dry humour. I am a big fan of anything from Pixar.

What’s your favourite album?

U2 – Rattle and Hum. I bought it on the day it was released from the local record shop in St Austell in 1988.

What’s the best and worst things you’ve eaten?

As a family we all like food, and regularly cook new things. It is great having 4 cooks in the house! So the best is very difficult. The worst would be a continual diet of rice and Dal Bhat for three weeks whilst trekking in Nepal.

Favourite holiday destination?

This is a difficult one, I love to travel and have a long bucket list. If I have to choose one, it would be Bolivia, which was my first holiday with my wife.

Do you have any hobbies you like to do outside of work?

Photography. I’m also quite active, so I like to ski and cycle as well.

What’s a secret talent that no one knows about?

I can ski off-piste, although my children would say I am not very good at it. Off-piste skiing is skiing in the backcountry, on ungroomed and unmarked terrain.

If you could get a new skill in 10 minutes, what would it be?

I’d like to be able to play the piano

How do you think the industry will change in 10 years?

I think there will be a number of changes over the next ten years. Firstly, the consumer will expect a seamless and integrated transport experience whereby they only have to purchase one ticket for the entirety of their journey. There will also be an increased demand for public transport in general, as climate change gets increasing focus resulting in barriers to the use of cars, particularly in urban areas.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone who’s just started their career?

Push yourself outside your comfort zone and constantly seek to take on more responsibility so you’re always learning new things. Most importantly, believe in yourself and believe that you can do it!

Experts in Transport Management

EPM Bus Solutions completes Omnibus acquisition

Ian Churchill

18 Feb 2021 – EPM Bus Solutions has today, with the support of Literacy Capital, completed the acquisition of one of the UK’s leading passenger transport software businesses, Omnibus.

The strategic acquisition sees EPM further strengthen its capability in providing high quality software solutions across the bus operator and transport authority markets, focussed on improving operational and commercial performance.

Founded in 1990, by Peter and Carol Crichton, Omnibus provides software for passenger transport scheduling, staff rostering, depot allocation and timetable construction to a wide range of public transport operators and local authorities, with solutions being used across the UK and overseas.

Ian Churchill
Ian Churchill CEO at EPM Bus Solutions

EPM Bus Solutions, formed in 1986, provide software to help bus operators and transport authorities reduce operational costs, improve financial performance and better serve their customers. In addition, EPM are the UK’s leading BSOG auditor and concessionary reimbursement consultancy.

Ian Churchill, CEO at EPM Bus Solutions, said: “Omnibus’ software solutions perfectly complements EPM’s, and the acquisition will enable us to provide a higher quality service to existing clients and give a wider offering of solutions to new customers. By bringing together the two businesses we will be able to harness the domain knowledge and experience of both to develop solutions to meet the needs of the public transport sector as society emerges from the impact of Covid-19.”

Peter Crichton, Managing Director at Omnibus, said: “I am very proud of the journey the Omnibus business has been on over the last three decades. Driven by the challenges faced by the pandemic, new technologies, and demand from bus operators and transport authorities for deeper insights into their operations to drive efficiency, EPM’s solutions combined with Omnibus’s will offer a powerful set of solutions which will be best-in-class. I am looking forward to working with the EPM team on this exciting journey.”

–END–

Omnibus: https://omnibus.solutions/

Press Contact:

EPM Bus Solutions
Harmi Sangha
07538 935 568
Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com 

Webinar – Unlocking the power of your commercial and operations data

Showing benefits of bus operator software solution

With EPM Insights you can easily and quickly manage your entire bus operations from a single online platform to improve business profitability and efficiency.

Join the webinar and see how we can drive your business forward.

  • Date: Thursday 11th February 2021
  • Time: 2-2.30pm

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Illustration of EPM bus operations software

Improving Reading Buses profitability with Insights

Robert Williams CEO Reading Buses

Robert Williams
Chief Executive Officer at Reading Buses

EPM Insights has shifted the Reading Buses business away from the manual collation of data to the automated production of key metrics, freeing up management time to focus on the actionable intelligence which the tool provides…. supporting us to react to both the changing nature of reality during the Covid pandemic and to help shape our future network. “

New commercial ‘Insight’ solution improves Reading Buses business performance

Robert William CEO Reading Buses
Robert Williams CEO Reading Buses
Robert Williams CEO at Reading Buses

Reading Buses has been working with an internationally renowned supplier of transport management systems, EPM Bus Solutions, to develop a new business data ‘Insight’ solution to support improving the bus operator’s business.

The online platform provides bus operators with customised Management Information and enabled Reading Buses to change from the manual collation of data to an automated production of key business performance metrics.

With demand for bus services more complex than ever due to the acceleration of changes in work, shopping and social patterns resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.  Operators need to be agile, to react to the changes in passenger demand and requires a deep understanding of the data relating to their operations in order to achieve their business goals.

Operators have invested in a range of systems, however the need to combine data from across the business into easily accessible information still remains.

Said Robert Williams, Chief Executive Officer at Reading Buses: “ We have traditionally invested lots of time collating static dashboards and KPI’s manually, EPM Insights has provided us with one platform combining data from across the organisation including, operational, commercial and engineering, providing the management teams with actionable management information.”

“The solution quickly surfaces business performance issues in real-time and identifies the key areas to focus management attention, and thereby providing them more time to put in place the required interventions and strategies, which has supported improving Reading Buses profitability and efficiency.”

Nick Brookes, Software Director at EPM Bus Solutions , added: “We are delighted with the adoption of EPM insights at Reading Buses. The dynamic drill down reporting within the platform has provided them with the tools to deep dive into their data and explore the reasons behind performance.

This enabled the operator to react to both the changing nature of reality during the Covid pandemic and help shape Reading Buses future network.”

–END–

Contact at Reading Buses :  Peter Love, pr@peterlove.co.uk

Contact at EPM: Harmi Sangha, Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com

Unlocking the power of your commercial and operations data

See how we can drive your business forward.

The guide on how to rebuild profits in a post-Covid-19 world for bus operators

EPM eBook for Bus Operators

Covid-19 has changed how we live, work and travel, and bus operators have to adapt to ensure future profitability. The eBook provides a guide on how you can drive revenue during these uncertain times… 2021 and beyond.

EPM eBook for Bus Operators

UK bus services have been hugely impacted by the Covid-19 virus, with patronage dropping almost 90% in the early stages of the pandemic and social distancing measures becoming mandatory on all public transport.

As the government starts to lift restrictions, it is now vital to understand the changing demands of the industry so that you can discover ways to encourage passengers back on board.

From analysing your data to see causes of disruption, to looking at additional monetary streams such as concessionary fares reimbursement and Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) claims, this guide will identify ways in which you can improve your current services and boost your profits for the year ahead.

It includes ways to:

  • Investigate route profitability
  • Improve customer service
  • Drive more revenue
  • Fine-tune your operations
  • Empower business decisions
  • Get the right tools and expertise

The road to success for bus operators in uncertain times

Helping drivers return to work with the Depot Performance System (DPS)

bus driver with covid mask

Following the easing of restrictions, operators are now planning for the phased return to work of their driving staff and the mobilisation of their fleets. However, with the majority of drivers having been furloughed, returning to work after in some cases lengthy layoffs, presents operators with a number of challenges. We explore how the Depot Performance System (DPS) can help drivers return to work quickly and easily.

Onboarding drivers

Where staff are returning to driving duties after a number of weeks off the road, there will be an inherent risk of vehicle related accidents.

Accidents have many negative consequences for operators, however the impact on vehicle availability at a time where more vehicles are required to carry fewer passengers and their impact on costs stand out at this time.

The safety of driving staff is also paramount to ensure that they are trained on new working practises, particularly those around social distancing measures and driver Health and Safety. In addition to this, drivers effectively communicating with customers regarding social distancing will be an important factor to maintain customer service levels.

Utilising data available in DPS

The wealth of data in DPS can be utilised by operators to assist with these challenges.

The ticketing data within ETM Analysis can be used to identify when a driver last worked and their recent route knowledge. This can then be used to form the following workflow in the EPM Operational Performance Module:

Compliance checks – any anniversary dates (such as licence checks, training courses, medical reminders) can be reviewed via an automated report, to identify any compliance issues.

Driver assessments – a new assessment type can be configured for returning drivers, to ensure that all drivers have been through this process prior to going back into service with a vehicle.

Return to work interview – return to work interviews can be added, which would cover changes in working practices and effective customer communications.

EPM support

The EPM support desk continues to operate on a business as usual basis, to provide operators with support and assistance and can be contacted via epm@epm-bus.com or on 01527 556 940.

If you feel that EPM are able to assist in any way to meet the current challenges facing operators, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Managing social distancing with the Depot Performance System (DPS)

Social distancing on bus

With the UK government set to put in place a roadmap to ease restrictions and lift some travel bans, operators concerns will be in respect of the safety of their staff, with considerable challenges around PPE and vehicle sanitisation. However, as passenger numbers do increase, managing social distancing on board vehicles will also present a significant challenge. We explore how the Depot Performance System (DPS) can help.

The social distancing challenge

For bus operators there is no reservation system to book online (this may be the solution for train) and as such it is not possible to manage demand in advance. Deploying inspectors to vehicles to monitor passenger numbers is unlikely to be a viable solution, due to the cost and staffing levels required.

There will also be an impact on customer service, as some passengers may have to be refused travel, due to safe capacity limits.

Utilising data available in DPS

The wealth of data in DPS can be used by operators to help meet this challenge, which could exist for a number of months.

On the day

Users of the Bus Incident Reporting Screen (BIRS) can record driver communications where their vehicle is at capacity using a ‘bus at capacity’ incident code and reacting to demand where possible. BIRS incidents can also provide visibility of capacity issues on the network for customer services to notify passengers, for example via operator app’s or social media.

Retrospective review

The data recorded in BIRS then allows for a retrospective review to enable operators to gauge capacity requirements. This data can be utilised alongside ticketing data, to review passengers carried on a journey referenced to the vehicles safe seating capacity. Similarly, where operators have configured a specific button push for the driver to register a ‘bus at capacity’ this data can be analysed.

Monitoring customer complaints for ‘full bus’/‘refused access’ customer feedback categories will also provide more valuable insight.

 EPM support

Reviewing these different datasets together will provide operators with a range of information to assist with operational planning, in what are extremely challenging times.  EPM can work with operators to tailor automated daily reporting to streamline this analysis. The EPM support desk continues to operate on a business as usual basis, to provide operators with support and assistance and can be contacted via epm@epm-bus.com.