To explain why the awards exist - I am not slow to criticse companies when things go wrong, or where I think things could be improved, and on the whole they take it pretty well, even acting on my suggestions on occasions. So I thought that if I criticise then I should recognise as well, and that's where I got the idea of the awards, not for the usual categories like best route, safest driver, punctuality etc, but for categories not usualy covered, with one or two exceptions. I hope you agree with most of them, but since I do get around a bit - I've travelled on buses from the Isle of Skye to Newcastle to Maidstone this year - the decisions are based purely on my own experiences, as are my criticisms. As the blog expands, as I hope it will, then more people will be involved in the decisions.
In total there were 8 categories, of which 5 have been presented so far. You will see from the other 3 that they will be a bit more difficult to arrange. The winners were decided in Setptember, so recent developments and events haven't really had a chance to be taken into account, but certainly will this year.
The first STEVE award was actually presented in December in a cold and wet Norwich Bus Station to Robin Moore, a driver for Anglian Bus on the 7/61/62. The award was for Friendliest Driver and quite simply you will not see a driver who has so many passengers getting off with a smile on their faces. He greets every passenger, asking them if they have had a nice day, and says thank you and goodbye to each one as they get off. He also has never complained about taking me back to Halesworth normally at least twice a week when I'm the only one on the bus for miles on a set down only journey. I know I never had that patience when I was driving and that clinched it for me. I asked Dave Jordan, Commercial manager at Anglian to present Robin with his award, and I'm grateful to him for doing so.
|Robin Moore (left) and Anglian Commercial Manager Dave Jordan with the STEVE Award for "Friendliest Driver"|
The second award was won back in June, when someone at Ipswich Buses had the truly inspired idea to put the open top Atlantean in normal service prior to the Summer open top tour timetable coming into operation. I did a circuit on the 11 myself, and it felt like going in a time machine. It turned out to be a huge success, and if you think it was a one off I can tell you that Managing Director, Malcolm Robson and I were discussing how the DDA regulations could be got round to get her doing it after DDA comes into effect - and there are two Summers to go before that!
|Remember when it was hot? IB 9 loading up on the 5 to Ipswich Hospital|
|IB 9, Engineering Manager Nigel Daniels and Managing Director Malcolm Robson with their awards pic (c) DW|
|Engineering Manager First Ipswich, Barry Spurling accepts his STEVE Award from Chris Speed, First Eastern Counties Business Manager pic (c) DW|
So I decided Chris's efforts to engage with the enthusiast community should be rewarded, and I created the Manager of the Year award for him. Chris had previously told me that he was given his first job on the then Yarmouth Transport by Cliff Hussey, who rather conveniently is now Operations Manager at Ipswich and I thought it would be rather nice if Cliff presented Chris with the award. So on the pretext that I wanted Cliff there to take part in the presentation to the depot, I asked Chris to bring him down with him. Not sure Cilla could have done it any better! On behalf of all enthusiasts who have benefitted from your opening up the depot doors policy, Chris, - I thank you. There are parts of the country where it is virtually impossible to get a depot tour, and they should take you and First Eastern Counties as an example.
|Chris Speed gets his STEVE award from Ipswich Operations Manager and first boss Cliff Hussey pic (c) DW|
|Chris's pic of his award, which he tweeted and put on facebook.|
The last three awards, still to be presented are as follows:
Company Offering Best Value For Money: Megabus
Vehicle of the Year: Megabus Volvo B11R Plaxton Elite Interdeck
Company Receiving Most Unfair Criticism: Abelio Greater Anglia
I'd like to thank all the managers and staff involved from the various companies for accepting the awards and indeed all the companies who make an effort to accommodate us enthusiasts. It really is appreciated and I'm looking forward to the difficult task of deciding the 2015 awards