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UK Bus Awards 2023 – A Day To Remember

UK Bus Awards 2023 - A Day To Remember

The Troxy London

And so it came to pass that the big day was upon us all. On Tuesday, 28th November 2023, over 750 people gathered from the four corners of the United Kingdom and beyond to assemble at the mighty Troxy conference venue. And the old girl looks fantastic at ninety years young. It started life as an art deco cinema/theatre, and it has an almost Tardis quality about it. From the outside, it seems smaller than it is, but once you step inside its cavernous interior, the space and the atmosphere are deceptive.

Unite the union

Interestingly, as we waited patiently to gain access, there was a delegation from the Unite trade union who had traveled down from Newcastle where the local Go North East bus company has been involved in a bitter and dark dispute with the company for quite some weeks. So, they decided it would be a good idea to come down and lobby the attendees. It was slightly surreal, to be honest, but everyone involved took it in good humor. I smiled and took the leaflet from the nice man from Unite and read the case before folding it up in my pocket as a little souvenir. It does, however, remind me that even though bus companies have recently been giving pay awards of ten percent, and in some cases nearly 14 percent, industrial action is still very much a part of today’s modern transport landscape.

Giles Fearnley 

In the reception area, immediately saw my dear friends Alex Perry and Bill Hiron, as well as many others whom I recognized from my 40 years as part of this great community. With smiles, nods, and handshakes, we all caught up and swapped news. It was a very relaxed and informal event, and as I sipped my fresh orange juice, I just took stock of the fact that this great event has been going since 1996. I remember putting an entry in for the very first-ever UK Bus award, which, of course, got nowhere, but I still managed to blag a ticket for the first-ever event that took place at the Mansion House in central London.

For many years, the event was held at the Hilton in Park Lane, one of the capital’s most prestigious and frankly expensive venues. It seems fitting that the UK Bus Awards have found their natural home. The staff at the Troxy responded very well as the small army of staff proceeded to serve up three excellent courses. I had the great pleasure of sitting next to some of the most respected senior leaders of the industry, including Giles Fearnley, former CEO of Transdev and former MD of First UK Bus, and the chair of the UK Bus Awards parent company. Giles and I met over 40 years ago when we both worked at West Yorkshire Road Car. Both young men, Giles has had an amazing career and made a huge contribution to the UK transport industry, both bus and rail. And he remains one of the nicest, interesting, and engaging men I have met. Also on the table were Ben Colson OBE and John Owen OBE, just telling you something about how the nation regards these fine men.

Jane Hill BBC News

The excellent host for the tenth year was the enigmatic, professional BBC news anchor Jane Hill. She was celebrating her tenth year as the master of ceremonies and has become a real and cherished friend of the awards. So, it was time for the very first award to be presented, and no less than the Buses Minister himself, who had popped over from the House of Commons, Guy Opperman, spoke very well and with enthusiasm about his desire to be the Buses Minister. Although he has only been in post a few weeks, he gave a good impression of himself. He then presented the winner of the Bus and Community award sponsored by Heathrow, and the winner was Behind the Bus from the team at Stagecoach East.


In total, there were 23 awards. For me, some of the highlights were a special recognition for front-line staff who had performed acts of bravery or indeed saved lives through their quick thinking. So, hats off to the 5 men and women who showed such courage and quick thinking.

Mariusz Losinski  Transdev Blazefield

A new category was recruitment and retention, something very close to my heart after my previous Polish adventures. The winner was Nottingham City Transport, with their “Recruit Retain” campaign.

Indeed, the man who was crowned the top national Bus Driver was a Polish gentleman called Mariusz Losinski from Transdev Blazefield, so huge congratulations to him for doing himself, his bus company, and his nation proud.

Andrew Wickham MD Go South Coast 

My last accolade goes to the man who manages the company that was finally crowned as the UK Bus Operator of the Year 2023, namely Go South Coast and its brilliant MD, my friend Andrew Wickham, a great bus leader, and a really good and decent man. Well done to all at team Go South Coast.

So, until next year, when I will be entering the awards where uTrack will see if we can emulate our success when we won the Innovation category at the 2013 awards. What a euphoric moment that was! Come win or lose, it is vital that these awards continue to celebrate, recognize, and reward all that is great in the UK bus industry.

Austin Birks.


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