Catch the Bus Week
A round up of some of the success stories
The third annual Catch the Bus Week campaign, organised by Greener Journeys took place between 29 June and 5 July and has been hailed by the organisers as a success. Support from operators, local authorities and passenger transport groups this year was up 90% on last year’s figure, with 190 stakeholders registering their support. Over 20 parliamentarians got involved in a range of activities, including holding bus surgeries in their local constituencies and showing their support via social media.
This was a central channel for demonstrating the benefits of bus travel during the Catch the Bus Week. Greener Journeys tweets were viewed 41,900 times during the week, and the hashtags #CTBW and #CTBW2015 were mentioned 838 times, and viewed 2,533,352 and 1,685,489 times respectively.
I contacted a number of operators to find out what they had done to attract more passengers and how successful they had been. Here are just some of those who participated in the scheme.
During the course of the week, First Midland held three ‘Bus Surgeries’ across the region: in Worcester, Leicester and Hanley. The events, which aimed to promote bus travel in each area, included a free ticket giveaway for car users. Staff members from the company, along with representatives from Bus Users UK were present to talk to existing customers about bus travel experiences and to support customers with any problems they may have with public transport.
Marketing & PR Coordinator, for the division, Zara Young, commented, ‘We found the events to be very successful, giving us an opportunity to promote our services to potential customers whilst also gaining valuable feedback from existing bus users.’ At the time of going to press the data from the free ticket take-up was still to be collated.
MerseyTravel, in conjunction with Stagecoach and Arriva, held four special roadshows in Liverpool City Centre, Crosby Village, Heswall Bus Station and St Helens Town Centre, which over 600 people took part in. It also staged a Customer Forum which attracted over 70 attendees, their best attended bus themed forum to date. They also participated in an hour long Twitter chat with a specific bus theme which raised a number of questions which have been passed on to the relevant departments.
Reading Buses ran a number of promotions throughout the week, including giving out free tickets to people in the town centre pedestrian zone and promoting PlusBus at Reading station, encouraging people to get on the bus for their onward journeys.
CEO of Reading Buses, Martijn Gilbert, commented, ‘Our staff received lots of positive feedback and one Twitter user even exclaimed ‘‘got my free bus ticket from Reading Buses – made my day a bit brighter’’.’
Nearly half of all the free tickets that were given out were redeemed and they hope that some of those people will become regular bus customers. A number of competitions were run to spread the positive message of bus travel, using social media and on bus screens.
Martijn went on to say, ‘We had a great time supporting Catch the Bus Week. It was definitely our most successful yet and the levels of engagement from our customers were brilliant meaning the message of the campaign was able to reach a much wider audience – which of course is the aim of the organisers Greener Journeys.’
A local community radio station, East Coast FM, broadcast their lunchtime show live from one of Prentice Coaches’ buses whilst it was in service. MD for the company, Ross Prentice, commented, ‘It was great fun. We had a few Wi-Fi problems but still managed to broadcast the bulk of the lunchtime show live from the bus.’
They also ran a social media competition in the form of a ‘scratch card’ and were one of only a few operators in the area taking part in the campaign.
Ipswich Buses’ efforts generated some great responses from existing and potential passengers and MD, Jeremy Cooper, had this too say, ‘Catch the Bus Week gave us the excuse to draw attention to our newly refurbished buses and cheaper day tickets by displaying the bus in the Cornhill in the heart of Ipswich Central’s shopping district. Our customer services team worked hard handing out leaflets offering a day’s travel for £2 not only to passers by, but also crucially in car parks in the town. We’ve already had 120 vouchers used and if those new users travel by bus just once a month in future we will have generated more than £5k per annum in additional revenue. Our day ticket vinyls, which our apprentices worked all through Sunday 28th to fit, have been the talk of the town – it’s such a simple message and the freedom of hopping on and paying for a whole day’s travel has immediately appealed to people: day ticket sales were 50% up in Catch the Bus Week.’