In 1980, brother and sister Brian Souter and Ann Gloag decided to start a small recreational vehicle and minibus hire business called Gloagtrotter in Perth, Scotland. With only £25,000 of family inheritance, they decided to put the small nest egg to good use and brought 2 large buses. The pair soon became recognised as a reliable and courteous use of transport to much-needed destinations around Scotland, that together with their thriving polite and friendly attitude, the company quickly grew. Now, this vast expanding commercial company renamed as Stagecoach has taken the UK by storm becoming the UK’s biggest bus service provider, with over 25,000 employees!
OM met with Leading Driver, James Palmer who has been with the company for 3 years, Senior Controller, William Bushall-Crane who began his Stagecoach career in London and has now worked his way up through the company over his 11 years of service and Marketing Manager, Aisha O’Connor who joined the company in June 2019. The team tell us how they’re focusing on customer retention, why you should choose Stagecoach and how their Falcon service has grown rapidly over its four years of operation.
Stagecoach South West has been running for 25 years, providing the South West with a fleet of almost 500 buses, 65 of them being in Plymouth along with 10 Falcon coaches running between Plymouth and Bristol every hour from 4.15 am to 19.00 pm! The business has developed over it’s 25 years, now hosting 1200 employees including over 1000 drivers!
The Falcon was first launched in 2016 by Stagecoach, and during this 4 year period it’s been running they’ve seen a whopping 1 million passengers use this service, with continuous growing numbers!
The Falcon is estimated to take only 3 hours from Plymouth to Bristol and has been a necessity for the towns and villages along the route with no real transport connecting them to Bristol. Other than trains, there was no service running directly between Plymouth and Bristol throughout the day and night, Stagecoach South West saw a gap in the market and the Falcon was born.
In conjunction with this, the Falcon has supplied the population of Plymouth, Bristol and all the other stops along the way including Exeter, Taunton, and Sidcot the availability to travel freely at their convenience through the day and night.
What makes the falcon so appealing is the fantastic frequency of coach services’ travelling every hour beginning at 4:15 am till 19:00 pm, then every 2 hours after that. One of the main attractions about the falcon is its flexibility, a ‘hop on hop off’ system has been introduced, just as you would with a normal city bus; allowing those last-minute plans to go-ahead!
With their invincible competitive prices, the Falcon caters to everyone allowing discounts for under 25’s, over 60’s and even providing group deals with it costing only £58 return for 5 people!
The Falcon not only offers regularly occurring coaches and unbeatable prices, but outstanding customer service. Each driver is ensured to provide a great positive attitude and present a friendly welcome, willing to go the extra mile for every passenger. Before the journey sets off from Plymouth the driver will be sure to give an announcement explaining each drop-off and when you’ll be arriving at your destination, providing a simple yet personal experience, something you don’t see elsewhere.
‘These drivers have all sorts of qualifications and come from all walks of life but they’re coach drivers because they choose to be and they enjoy it and no two days are the same!’
If you’re looking for an easy and efficient route to Bristol, maybe you’re catching a flight, treating yourself to some retail therapy or visiting family, you want to ensure you’ve got reliable, hassle free transport right on your doorstep. Tickets are available to buy online by simply heading over to Stagecoach’s sister company Megabus where you can be sure to guarantee your chosen seats. The falcon offers the flexibility at it’s finest with return tickets being used within 28 days of the outbound journey, an extremely versatile system for those travelling away for a few days with no chosen return date!
There is a maximum of 30 seats available to reserve on a falcon and 31 available to the public. Due to the popularity of Stagecoach, the vision is to soon expand their vehicles, providing supplementary double decker coaches (carrying 74 passengers) and potentially increasing the frequency of the coaches to one every half an hour!
Priding themselves on the fact they’re ‘all about being connected’. Stagecoach is aware that being associated with other companies is a vital key to allow a smooth working service, that appeals to all. With connecting services meaning people can hop off the coach and jump straight onto a park and ride using the same ticket free of charge!
Onboard the coach you’re not only able to pay for your ticket with contactless, but free Wi-Fi access along with being able to charge your phones and/or computers at your seat, with every seat being provided with a USB portable and charging socket. Meaning for a lot the public who use the falcon to commute to and from work they’re able to use this time efficiently and productively.
Stagecoach abides by certain values which are highlighted through their involvement with charity events, for example getting involved with the St Luke’s Hospice Elmer’s Big Parade in 2019, sponsoring their own Elmer the Elephant. Not to forget the individual work that goes on behind closed doors with the courageous team members running marathons and taking part in other charity events in aid of raising money for their chosen charities, raising over 20k for charities in 2018 alone!
‘We work with everyday heroes in their own rights’
As a national company, Stagecoach is looking to achieve huge growth within the next 3 years. With the hope to potentially provide an increase in the fleet of vehicles the Falcon has to offer with larger coaches, which will help combat the growing capacity of people. Not only that but include even more frequent transport, as they are hoping to increase the service frequency to every half an hour and accumulating more stops along the route!
‘Our vision is as much about the people we serve as the business we run. We don’t just want stagecoach to thrive, we want to have happy and engaged people who build trusted and connected relationships with our communities because we value how important our services are to their everyday lives.’
With the resilience, positivity, and drive shown by the team at Stagecoach, it is clear to see that the future is most definitely bright. Here at OM, we are excited to see what the future has in store with the growing success of this company!