Plymouth’s coach station has been awarded the first-ever Safer Coach Station accreditation.
The British Parking Association has awarded accreditation for safe bus stations for several years, but has now launched a new accreditation for long-distance scheduled coach services – and Plymouth’s new coach station is the first to receive it!
The £4.8 million coach station opened to passengers last September with seven bays, electronic passenger information, sail-like steel canopies to provide shelter, an internal heated waiting area, toilets, a staffed ticket office, ticket vending machines, cycle stand, CCTV, a customer help point, a taxi drop off zone and extensive landscaping. The site also works as a satellite tourist information centre with maps, leaflet racks and onward travel information for buses, rail and ferries.
As well as the CCTV cameras, there are regular patrols by security guards at all hours of the day and night to add an extra sense of security for passengers and visitors.
The accreditation system is based on two assessments – a face-to-face customer survey to find out how safe people felt both during the day and out-of-hours and a detailed audit of systems and procedures in place.
Some of the comments which came back from passengers included: ‘security staff and café staff – friendly and helpful’, ‘comfy seating and always nice and clean’, ‘clean and comfortable, warm and good seating. Friendly and helpful staff’ and ‘things have really improved!’
Councillor Patrick Nicholson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Transport, Housing and Planning said: “We are really proud of this accreditation and it is particularly gratifying to hear that people who use this coach station at all hours of the day and night feel safe. ”
The coach station is operated by National Express. Megabus and SW Falcon also run scheduled services from there. It replaces the old Bretonside bus station which is being demolished as part of a multi-million pound leisure development by British Land.
National Express Coach Managing Director Chris Hardy said: “We are delighted to be awarded this accreditation which is a tribute to the work we and our partners at Plymouth Council have put in to provide the best possible experience for people travelling by coach. Safety is National Express’s number one priority and we regularly review our stations to improve facilities for waiting passengers, such as CCTV, lighting and security patrols to ensure our customers and visitors feel safe. ”
Facilities have to pass a rigorous risk assessment conducted by the police and the British Parking Association. The assessments include management and maintenance of the facility, ensuring that there are appropriate levels of surveillance, lighting, signage and cleanliness, explained Chas Cannon, Senior Area Manager at British Parking Association.
He said: “I am delighted that National Express and the council have achieved the first Safer Coach Station Award as part of the Safer Bus Station scheme.
“I very much look forward to working with National Express to help them achieve further awards at other bus stations across the UK. This is a relatively new scheme, but as we are encouraged to use more public transport and the fact that we are moving towards more interconnected transport networks, the time was right to extend crime prevention schemes into these areas.”
The coach station has also just been shortlisted for the National Transport Awards 2017. The awards are probably the biggest awards ceremony in the realm of public transport and the coach station is up against some very big projects in the construction and engineering project of the year category.