Norfolk acquisition KonectBus achieves highest user rating.

Research carried out by Passenger Focus on behalf of transport operator Go Ahead has revealed that 91% of people using its bus services across England are satisfied with the overall service.

Over 6,250 bus users were surveyed at Go Ahead’s nine bus companies outside London. Norfolk-based KonectBus, the smallest of the companies in the survey, performed best with overall passenger satisfaction of 97%. The 47-vehicle company was acquired by Go Ahead in March 2010.

The next highest score was achieved by South Hampshire-based Bluestar, part of the group’s Go South Coast business. This operation achieved overall satisfaction of 94%. The seven remaining companies all achieved overall satisfaction of at least 90%.

Go Ahead chief executive David Brown hailed “an excellent set of results”, but warned that there was no room for complacency. He also said that the research made it very clear that once people make the decision to use the bus, the experience they have is a positive one.

However, it was perhaps surprising to see the group’s acclaimed Brighton & Hove operation achieve a comparatively low score of 90%. The 280-vehicle company, long regarded as one of the country’s best bus companies, was joint lowest in terms of overall satisfaction, and had the lowest number of ‘very satisfied’ users (48%).

A spokesperson for Go Ahead commented: “The expectations of our passengers are extremely high and the challenges of delivery get tougher each year, especially challenges around traffic congestion. Brighton & Hove is also encouraging passengers to change their behaviour when it comes to buying tickets and take advantage of better value tickets available online. The introduction of the key smartcard will assist with that.”

Go Ahead expects the survey to be an annual occurrence, enabling it to track trends. “Go Ahead can be proud of these results, particularly the consistency shown across its nine bus companies,” commented David Sidebottom, Passenger Focus, director. “We hope their competitors recognise the potential value of working with us and summon up the courage to find out what their passengers really think of their buses.”

Arriva has undertaken its own customer survey across its UK bus business since 2003, although it does not publish the individual performances of its subsidiary companies. The group’s 2010 survey found that nine out of 10 passengers were satisfied.

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