Commitment to Customers Wins Aberdeenshire Council Top AwardThe Trapeze Team | July 19, 2016
Aberdeenshire Council has again claimed the title of Local Transport Authority of the Year at the Scottish Transport Awards - for the fourth time in less than a decade.
The council was also shortlisted in four other areas, including Frontline Employee of the Year, Best Practice in Travel to School and Work Schemes, Excellence in Walking and Public Realm, and Excellence in Technology and Innovation.
Commenting on the award win, Principal Officer for Information and Infrastructure, Martin Hall was quick to attribute the success to the team’s continued focus on benefit to the customer: “The focus of all the work we have done is to improve services for our customers.”
RTPI for passenger engagement
When talking to Martin, it is clear that improving the experience of the customer is what drives those who work at Aberdeenshire Council. Real-Time Passenger Information (RTPI) plays a critical role here, offering passengers the information they need to make informed public transport decisions.
In the successful submission for the Local Transport Authority of the year, Aberdeenshire Council highlighted integration of RTPI with smartphones as well as traditional printed materials. In addition to some 60 electronic screens at significant stops in the region, nearly all of Aberdeenshire’s bus stops now offer QR (Quick Read) codes that can be scanned to reveal a real-time “virtual departure board”. As Martin puts it: “The customer-facing part of RTPI now covers all of the North East of Scotland, from Aberdeenshire to Aberdeen City.” As a result, everyone can now access RTPI, rather than just those who use certain high-profile volume terminals. Aberdeenshire Council clearly understands passenger RTPI requirements, as well how they want to access it. For many people, their smartphone is the primary source of all kinds of information, including RTPI.
The council was also shortlisted in the “Excellence in Technology and Innovation” category, where RTPI was again central to the submission. In that document, the council said: “Aberdeenshire Council is using technology innovatively to disseminate public transport information, with the aim being to encourage greater use of bus services whilst also ensuring that those customers wholly reliant on public transport can easily access information.”
Aberdeenshire Council Live Departures Website
A successful team
The results of the Scottish Transport Awards have obviously painted the Transportation department in a very positive light. For Martin, it is the combination of providing excellent services for customers while being recognised by transport specialists that is most pleasing. He said: “As a team we are happy to see our efforts being recognised not just by our customers but by our peers, as these awards were judged by a panel of industry experts. We are consistently being recognised for the many different elements of our services.”
Bad weather intervenes
Despite the success at the Scottish Transport Awards in June, it hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing for transport services in Aberdeenshire. “Storm Frank” hit at the end of 2015, affecting key routes due to flooded roads. Of the team’s response to these difficult circumstances, Martin said: “Aberdeenshire was hit quite badly. The response of our front line staff was focused on monitoring and improving road surfaces afterwards.” Emergency bus shuttle services were deployed around Braemar after a bridge collapsed, preventing the community from being cut off.
For this response the Aberdeenshire Council Transportation department was shortlisted and highly commended in the “Frontline Employee of the Year” category.
The previous example highlights the next logical evolution in passenger information: disruption management. As Martin explains: “RTPI is the foundation; we are now thinking about disruption management. We want to give our customers the best information there is. It’s not just about live travel information, but also disruptions - planned or otherwise. We need to provide information to allow our customers to make informed travel choices.”
The dedication to customers’ needs shown by the Transportation team at Aberdeenshire Council shows exactly why the council was so successful at the 2016 Scottish Transport Awards - and why it is likely they will be again in the future.
(For more detail on Aberdeenshire Council's approach to using RTPI please read the case study: Pursuing Perfection in Public Transport with Aberdeenshire Council)