Stagecoach East Scotland wins Operator of the Year at Scottish Transport Awards

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The winners of the 2020 Scottish Transport Awards have been announced in an online conference which went ahead to recognise the hard work the transport sector has put in during a difficult year

This year’s Scottish Transport Awards Summit took place on 28 October as an all-day virtual conference with keynote speech by Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson, who said it was very important to recognise the incredible efforts and achievements of the transport sector given the events of 2020.

Stagecoach East Scotland won the Public Transport Operator award for a second year running. Since its win in 2019, passenger numbers for the overall Express network increased by 10.29%, and alongside network improvements, new day return tickets were introduced in July 2019 and fares were reduced by up to a third, making coach travel a more attractive option. The company also invested £3.5m in a fleet of 16 electric hybrid buses, adding to the 25 already in the fleet.

Pamela McCluskey, a driver for First Scotland East, took away the prize for ‘Frontline Employee of the Year’ for her actions when she noticed flames coming from a flat during her shift. Concerned for all those inside the block, Pamela brought her bus to a halt and called the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. While on the phone, she headed to the rear of the flats to assess the extent of the blaze and could see it was spreading towards a property directly above. She entered the building and began banging on all the resident’s doors and windows to spread the word and ensure residents evacuated safely. Pamela said she was concerned that it was Bonfire Night and she feared that residents may just have attributed the smoke smell to nearby by fireworks being let off. The residents made it out safely and on arrival the fire brigade praised her swift actions.

The Lifetime Contribution to Transport in Scotland Award, nominated by the judges, went to Robert Andrew who announced his retirement earlier this year after over 35 years in the industry and progressed from junior roles within the Scottish Bus Group to become Stagecoach’s longest serving Regional Director. Having joined the Group in 1992 Robert would become Managing Director of Fife and Bluebird operations before promotion to Regional Director for Scotland. He then spent periods covering firstly Northern England and then Southern England before returning to Scotland in 2016, and from 2017 until 2019 Robert jointly led Stagecoach’s UK Bus Division, before reverting to an enhanced Scottish Regional Director position adding Megabus and the Welsh operations in early 2019.

Other winners and commendations from the coach and bus sector include: Scottish Citylink Coaches service 900 (Glasgow – Edinburgh), winner of the Best Bus Service, while the Contribution to Sustainable Transport Award went to BOC for its Kittybrewster Hydrogen Refuelling Station in Aberdeen, used by the new Wrightbus double-deck buses for the city as well as other council-owned vehicles.

In the Frontline Employee of the Year category, besides Pamela, others highly commended were: Frank Alexander, First Aberdeen; Garry Boyce, Bus Driver, Bannockburn Depot, First Scotland East; Hugh Gunn, Caithness Voluntary Group – Caithness Rural Transport; Stevie Ross, Bus Station Controller, Stagecoach Highlands, and; Matty Tunnock, Driver, Lothian.

Stagecoach East Scotland won the award for Operator of the Year at the Scottish Transport Awards. RICHARD WALTER