Transport User Voice – August 2019 – Driving improvements for bus passengers
Reading Buses maximise use of Bus Passenger Survey
Transport Focus’s Bus Passenger Survey (BPS) is a tool for bus companies to help them drive improvements for passengers. And Reading Buses is a case study, making maximum use of BPS to increase passenger numbers.
Reading Buses’ management team and training academy act on the BPS results as part of its annual planning cycle. It assesses what needs to improve and what action is needed right across the business. It might focus on the experience of drivers, the bus stop environment or reliability of the service. As a customer-focused business, the results guide a wide range of decisions believing that everything affects the passenger experience. It cascades the results and the action throughout the organisation using a leaflet What our customers are saying about us.
As a result, Reading Buses increased overall passenger satisfaction by six per cent to 94 per cent this year. But this does not mean it rests on its laurels: it wants to do even better.
Passengers’ interaction with the driver is one of the most important aspects of their journey experience. The priority in Reading is to recruit drivers who are excellent at customer care: bus driving is a skill which can be taught!
Satisfaction with journey time increased by seven percentage points which they believe is partly down to the introduction of contactless and app tickets, with a 14 per cent decline in the use of cash. There has, however, been a decline of seven percentage points in satisfaction with the driver. They believe this could be down to greater use of contactless and app tickets as there is less personal interaction between the driver and the passenger. It is now encouraging their drivers – and other customer-facing staff – to greet their customers with some words and a smile: a ‘good’ journey should become a ‘great’ one.
To something more practical. One of the top six measurements that can make a journey ‘great’ rather than ‘good’, is cleanliness. It has seen a two per cent reduction in cleanliness on the outside of the bus and one per cent on the inside. So it is working with its cleaning company to make improvements.
Passengers rated value for money more highly than before, up five percentage points. This could be the result of increasing the range of tickets, particularly to students, and also promoting a better-value 7-day fare scheme.
Reading Buses has also responded to changing demand. It has realised that shift workers need buses so has introduced more 24-hour services.
Other bus companies have adopted a similar approach regarding improvements. Stagecoach reflects the results back to its staff so they can see how well they have been doing. It is a great approach to the business which brings benefits to passengers too.
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