Reays entered its hopping mad campaign, which featured a flock of crazy-looking sheep to promote discounted tickets on its City Hopper network in Carlisle. They felt it was an excellent example of how a new entrant could quickly establish brand and customer loyalty in a highly-competitive market.
Managing director Chris Reay said: We are very proud to have represented our home county as the only Cumbria-based operator in the nations number one bus awards. Our hopping-mad campaign proved very successful. It was good fun and put a smile on peoples faces but also got over the message in a strong and positive way that passengers would save themselves money by buying our discounted deals.
More than 600 guests attended the awards in London last week at the Hilton Hotel, Park Lane. Transport Under Secretary Norman Baker was guest of honour. Mr Reay went with his wife Nicola, the firms finance director, and Michelle Stacy, sales and customer service manager.
Reays launched City Hopper in October 2010 in competition with established operator, Stagecoach. The network now carries 30,000 passengers a week. Reays also operates a fleet of private-hire coaches and provides many school and loss-making rural bus routes under contract to Cumbria County Council. This summer it launched Lakes Hopper services between Keswick and Bowness and has plans for more routes.
Reays have created history by becoming the first Cumbrian winners at the UK Bus Awards.
The family-run firm was named Top Independent Operator at a plush lunch and awards ceremony attended by 700 guests at the Hilton Hotel on London's Park Lane.
The award was in recognition of the success of the City Hopper public bus service which Reays launched in Carlisle in October last year. Nearly 20,000 passengers a week now use the City Hopper service, which has expanded from two to seven routes.
Managing director Chris Reay received the award with his wife Nicola, who is also the company's finance director, and Andy Horn, City Hopper's operations manager.
Chris said: "I am absolutely astounded and incredibly proud to have won a national award at what are basically the bus industry's Oscars. I would like to thank all our staff for their hard work and dedication and all our passengers for their support and loyalty since we launched City Hopper in Carlisle."
The awards on November 29 featured a keynote address from Norman Baker, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for the department of transport..
City Hopper was described as an enterprising scheme which caught the judges' eyes and which had also generated strong customer satisfaction during visits by mystery passengers as part of the awards process.
The Top Independent Operator category was for bus companies with fewer than 100 vehicles and who are not owned by a quoted transport group.
Besides City Hopper, Reays also run several school bus routes and rural public services in Cumbria, as well as private coach hire and football club contracts, including Carlisle United.