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Scheme to get students on board buses wins a national award

Posted: 19 June 2024

Our student travel scheme, which has seen more than 425,000 journeys made by learners, staff and apprentices since its launch nine months ago, has won a national award.

Launched in September 2023, the multi-operator student ticket scheme was crowned the winner of the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transport’s (CIHT) Bus Centre of Excellence Bus Initiative of the Year Award at an awards evening in London last Thursday (13 June 2024).

Nottinghamshire County Council developed the scheme alongside the college, Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and bus operators Stagecoach East Midlands and trentbarton to give students more flexibility than the college’s former private bus network could offer while also strengthening the local economy and making the future of the local bus network sustainable.

Multi-operator season tickets offer students at the college and NTU unlimited travel within the catchment area seven days a week. This means students have a much wider choice above and beyond the two services a day previously offered by the college.

Software was used to model how students could be transferred onto the local bus network and new and improved bus routes were launched by trentbarton and Stagecoach to accommodate this.

This involved trentbarton extending its Ripley to Sutton-in-Ashfield 90 service to operate through to Mansfield, meaning that West Notts College’s four main campuses, plus NTU’s Mansfield Hub located on the college’s Derby Road site, are now all connected by bus.

Such are the positive impacts of the scheme that retailers in Mansfield and Ashfield have since reported an increase in footfall and sales, thanks to more students being able to travel into town centres using their season tickets outside of college hours and terms.

When announcing the award, judges commented that the scheme is a great example of how partnership between local authorities, bus operators and the academic sector can bring real results to support student travel, benefit communities and grow passenger numbers. 

Gary Wood, head of highways and transport at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We are delighted to have won this award alongside our partners at West Nottinghamshire College, Nottingham Trent University, Stagecoach and trentbarton.

“The multi-operator student ticketing scheme is a shining example of partnership working at its best and looking at the results so far in the Mansfield and Ashfield area, we are proud to have made a difference to the lives of students, apprentices and college staff.

“We were shortlisted for this award alongside Transport for London, Arriva and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to name a few, and our success is testament to the collaboration of partners who have helped us to achieve these positive outcomes for young people attending West Notts College and Nottingham Trent University.

“It is great to hear that students aren’t just travelling to get to and from college and that the local economy has seen a boost thanks to the multi-operator ticket and we are looking forward to seeing how this scheme develops further in the future.”

Gavin Peake, director of IT, estates and learning resources at West Nottinghamshire College, said: “It is wonderful the partnership between the college, county council, trentbarton, Stagecoach and NTU to deliver a new travel offer to students has been recognised with this prestigious national award.

"There was extremely strong competition from other transport schemes across the country and I am thrilled the judges identified the innovative nature and wider benefits of our bus offer.

“Our students have benefited significantly from this flexible and expanded bus service and use it for much more than just getting to and from college, such as attending work placements and enrichment activities, as well as for social use.

“Almost one-fifth of the recorded journeys have been made at weekends, proving that when offered affordable access to public transport, young people will choose to take a greener option. 

“I would like to thank staff from all the partner organisations for the huge efforts they made to bring this pioneering scheme to life.”

Matthew Cranwell, managing director of Stagecoach East Midlands, said: "Stagecoach East Midlands is delighted the Nottinghamshire partnership was successful in winning the CIHT Initiative Award.

“The scheme gives students flexible bus travel at best value for commuting and leisure journeys, provides cost effective transport for the college, helps to reduce traffic congestion, and improves air quality. The CIHT award is fantastic recognition for everyone involved in the project."

Tom Morgan, managing director of trentbarton, said: "Our multi-operator ticketing solution highlights what can be achieved through partnership working and now that means we have more young people in the area using sustainable transport modes than ever before.

“To be recognised for this hard work alongside colleagues at Nottinghamshire County Council, West Nottinghamshire College, Nottingham Trent University and Stagecoach East Midlands is a fantastic achievement. Congratulations to all involved." 

Katie Kerry, head of operations for the Mansfield Hub at Nottingham Trent University, said: “We’re delighted that this initiative has been recognised through a national award. The student travel scheme is a great example of education institutes and transport providers working collaboratively to make public transport more accessible and affordable for students."

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