Xplore Dundee and the importance of passenger experience

3 May 2017  •  Author(s): Elsie Turbyne, Managing Director of Xplore Dundee

Elsie Turbyne, Managing Director of Xplore Dundee speaks to Eurotransport about the operator’s recent impressive Transport Focus survey results and what they are going to do to make passenger experience even better.

passenger experience

Passengers are at the heart of what we do at Xplore Dundee (the city’s main bus company and part of the National Express UK Bus division); that’s why we were very pleased to find that the latest survey of bus passengers across the country shows that 91% are happy with the service they receive from us – a score which is higher than our previous survey and above the Scottish average.

Transport Focus

The research has been carried out nationwide during 2016 by independent group, Transport Focus, and shows that nine out of 10 of Xplore Dundee passengers are very or fairly satisfied with their journeys. Our overall score is 1% higher than the 90% awarded in the last survey (carried out in 2014) and shows that passengers in Dundee are among the happiest in Scotland. The overall journey satisfaction for a bus passenger in Scotland in 2016 is 90% and the satisfaction levels for punctuality (80%) and journey time (85%) remain the highest across the UK.

The questionnaire itself is quite detailed, and the results reflect passenger opinions on various aspects of bus travel, including waiting time, punctuality, bus stops, travel information and journey times.

The study really helps us as operators to analyse passenger experience and reveals what we are delivering well, and what areas still need some work. The 2016 survey shows that Xplore Dundee has maintained high scores or achieved improvements in key areas including safety, accessibility and driver helpfulness. 

Safety is our number one priority, so it’s reassuring to find that 91% of our passengers are satisfied with the safety of our driving; a high standard which has been maintained since 2014’s survey. Additionally, 92% of customers are happy with the ease of getting on and off the bus and the time taken to board. 

Journey times

However, we’ve also discovered our passengers are less satisfied with journey times, and they’ve noticed the impact that congestion and roadworks are having on their daily travel. 87% of customers were very or fairly satisfied with the length of their journey last year, compared to 92% in 2014.  And more passengers listed congestion/traffic jams or road works as the main problems which affected timings.  

These issues have indeed proved a challenge for our operations throughout 2016; Xplore Dundee’s network was affected by 59 roadworks and diversions, resulting in every service being diverted at least six times. We are concerned about the disruption and delays resulting from routine and emergency roadworks as they can damage the passenger’ perception of bus travel and undermine the attractiveness of choosing public transport, as well as contributing to pollution from vehicles idling in traffic queues. We keep in close contact with Dundee City Council’s roads and transportation teams and are committed to working in partnership with them to ensure we can minimise the negative effects of roadworks and congestion on bus travel as much as possible.  

Improvements

It was interesting to note customers’ comments on the ways we could improve our service, and we will take all suggestions into consideration as we continue to review and develop our network. The survey confirms our belief that passengers want punctual and high-frequency buses which are well-designed and comfortable, with modern on-board amenities. At Xplore Dundee we maintain and clean our vehicles to an extremely high standard. We’ve recently invested in a refurbishment and rebrand of all of our buses, and we will continue to seek opportunities to invest in the fleet to ensure the comfort and accessibility which our passengers have come to expect. 

Taking all things into consideration I’m encouraged by the results which have emerged from the latest Transport Focus survey. I’m glad to see that even more of our passengers are happy with the service they’re receiving and consider their journeys to be safe and accessible, as these are high priorities for us and will continue to be so. 

Looking to the future

There are areas we need to work on, and we will take a close look at how we can make improvements, taking into account what our passengers have told us. Journey times and punctuality will always be affected by external factors, such as roadworks and congestion but there’s no room for complacency and we are working hard to retain our high standards of service and to achieve more in those areas where customers are telling us they’d like to see improvements.

All of us at Xplore Dundee continue to strive for excellence, and to work with our local authority partners to ensure we keep Dundee moving as safely and efficiently as possible.

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