Author: Gurby Griffiths

Squarepeg Buses extends partnership with Omnibus to optimise crew scheduling

Squarepeg Buses extends partnership with Omnibus to optimise crew scheduling

25 April 2022 – Leeds-based Squarepeg Buses has strengthened its partnership with Omnibus to maximise efficiency and reduce costs around crew scheduling. 

The independent bus operator has adopted CrewPLAN, a leading automatic crew scheduling software solution, to produce efficient and compliant drivers’ duties. The agreement follows last month’s announcement of the partnership to digitalise scheduling and implement depot allocation and data sharing tools. 

Squarepeg Buses extends partnership with Omnibus to optimise crew scheduling

CrewPLAN was installed as part of the implementation project for the Omnibus scheduling suite, which includes timetabling, mapping, vehicle scheduling and rostering. All applications are cloud-based to enable Squarepeg Buses to work smarter in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

Simon Daymond, Director of Squarepeg Buses, said: “A month into our partnership, and it is clear to me that Omnibus is a trusted partner with the industry expertise and solutions we need to help us adapt effectively to unexpected events and market changes. 

“The implementation of CrewPLAN has been critical to our bus operation and couldn’t have come at a better time. All operators have been affected by driver shortages and recently we risked losing an important local authority contract because we were a driver down. By using CrewPLAN we were able to revise drivers’ duties in a more efficient way to incorporate the loss of that one driver and still deliver the contract. So, CrewPLAN has more than paid for itself within the first month.” 

Simon added: “I was very impressed at the quick turnaround of the software implementation and the knowledge of Omnibus team members, in particular Technical Account Manager Richard Yeo who delivered the product training.” 

Peter Crichton, Founder of Omnibus, said: “We are delighted about this partnership extension which demonstrates the faith Squarepeg Buses has in our software, which is designed specifically for schedulers to support operators of all sizes. 

“Linking with our scheduling software and timetabling, CrewPLAN is not only the ideal tool for producing robust and efficient crew duty schedules for current operations but is also essential for evaluating those ‘what if’ questions.” 

Established in 2009 and with a peak vehicle requirement (PVR) of 13, Squarepeg Buses provides public, private and school transport services in Leeds and surrounding areas.

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Note to editors:

EPM Transport Solutions, formed in 1986, provides software to help passenger transport operators and transport authorities reduce operational costs, improve financial performance and better serve their customers. In addition, EPM is the UK’s leading BSOG auditor and concessionary reimbursement consultancy.

EPM Transport Solutions trades as EPM Bus Solutions, Omnibus Solutions and 3Squared.

EPM Bus Solutions:

Omnibus Solutions:


Press contact:
Harminder Sangha
07538 935 568

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

Maximising control room efficiency

Solution for bus operators to maximise control room efficiency

EPM Group aims to empower bus operators’ control room teams with integrated technology.

As the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic recedes, the bus sector is working harder than ever to get people back on the bus.

Software solutions specialist EPM Bus Solutions aims to assist that process with the creation of new products and techniques that can help operators achieve that goal while making them ready for the post-Covid world.

“We work closely with our clients and from those conversations, we know they are really focussed on rebuilding revenue and patronage,” says Nick Brookes, software director at EPM Group. “That’s a given, obviously, but they are also seeking to enhance their operational effectiveness as well in order to reduce costs and drive profits.”

Article featured in The ALBUM Report 2022 by Passenger Transport

Tools to enhance business processes

It means Nick and his team at EPM have been looking very closely at developing new tools that aim to improve business efficiency. That process has been broken down into three component parts:

  • ‘Before the day’ network planning;
  • ‘On the day’ control room processes; and
  • ‘After the day’ processes where commercial and operational performance are scrutinised.

“Our solutions play a key role at each of those three stages,” says Nick, adding that EPM Group has been closely looking at those ‘on the day’ control room elements in order to create new ways of improving efficiency and business productivity.

Part of that process is assisted by the breadth of solutions and products EPM already offers to clients. As Nick notes, they cover the complex chain of processes that run throughout bus businesses and they not only help to drive efficiencies but also lead to a better service for customers. “That really helps operators to deliver an excellent customer experience,” he adds. “That’s absolutely critical at the moment.”

Control room processes

Bus operator control rooms are the hub of the business and the key to ensuring fantastic on the ground service delivery. They cover a myriad of processes such as driver absences, lost mileage or on-the-road issues that can affect punctuality and reliability like traffic congestion or specific issues that require liaison with other departments, like in the case of an accident or vehicle breakdown.

Nick Brookes“They are tasked with providing a high-quality service to the customer,” explains Nick. “Those core tasks – making sure the staff are in, the vehicles are on the road and the service is running reliably – are key to that goal.”

But to gain greater insight into how those processes actually work, Nick and his colleagues have spent time in bus operator control rooms to observe them in action. He says it was an enlightening experience.

“One of the things that really stood out was that operators have invested in lots of different solutions in recent years,” he reveals. “There are lots of different systems in there, but we noticed it was all rather disparate – control room staff have to go to lots of different places to gather that information. When they find it, it’s not always in an easy-to-use format either.”

Nick says this means that some of the decisions made as a result of not having a centralised source of information can sometimes have significant cost implications and even detrimental impacts on service delivery. “Without a central hub, control room staff have to move from one system to another and then to another rather than it being presented in a way that facilitates good decision-making,” he adds.

A good example of that is a driver who may have been delayed on the first half of their duty, perhaps as a result of traffic congestion. Nick highlights that control room staff may have to extend their break before they can go back on the road for their second half. It’s a problem that has to be solved immediately, so having visibility of issues in a central hub enables operators to make decisions efficiently and cost effectively.

Solving the problem

“There are lots of different impacts in terms of how that situation can be managed,” says Nick. “If we have all of that information displayed and available, and particularly the key information you really need to know to make effective decisions, that’s not only going to help improve the efficiency and operation of the control room but also the wider business too.”

He says this could be the engineering department or customers services, but the key advantage is that rather than control room staff resorting to time-consuming written reports, ad-hoc emails or phone calls – all parts of the organisation are automatically informed immediately, triggering further automated processes further down that line.

“So you have this single operations platform, that brings together not only information from EPM systems, but third-party platforms too. That has the potential to not only create efficiencies but really improve communication across the business while avoiding the potential for errors to creep into the data,” Nick adds. “People don’t have to resort to frantic phone calls or wade through files or emails in order to find the information they need.”

Making the right decision

Of course, bringing together all these data sources also presents the opportunity to do new things with them. In that late running bus example, the driver’s duty may be in one system and the vehicle real time information may be in another, but by bringing those two sources together control room staff can be alerted in advance that there is an emerging issue that needs solving.

“We can facilitate proactive decision-making,” says Nick. “It’s perhaps inevitable that if you have information tucked away in various different systems, sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees. By bringing those pieces of information together we can help people to focus on making the right decision while managing the operation as efficiently as possible.”

Integrated solutions

The first phase of EPM Group’s development is to integrate between their new cloud-based Depot Allocation System, OmniDAS, and the EPM Traffic system to ensure that any staff-related incidents are automatically created. This streamlines the process and improves data integrity.

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

David Brown joins the Board of EPM Transport Solutions

EPM Transport Solutions, David Brown

20 April 2022 – EPM Transport Solutions announces David Brown has joined the Board as a Non-Executive Director.

With 40 years of his career spent working in the passenger transport sector, David brings a vast amount of knowledge and experience to EPM Transport Solutions. Most recently David was CEO at The Go-Ahead Group retiring in the autumn of 2021 after 10 years leading the business.

EPM Transport Solutions, David Brown

As Non-Executive Director, David will be supporting the strategic development of the Group. He will be working with the Executive Team to identify opportunities for new solutions to address emerging challenges across the transport sector.

Ian Churchill, Chief Executive at EPM Transport Solutions, said: “I am excited that David has agreed to join the team. With his wealth of experience of the passenger transport sector, he will be invaluable in developing our portfolio of businesses to achieve our growth plans. His passion for innovation and transport is a natural fit with our organisation and I look forward to working together.”

David Brown commented: “I am delighted to have joined EPM Transport Solutions at this exciting point in the development of the business. The Group has developed an extensive portfolio of solutions which underpin the delivery of transport services on a daily basis. I am looking forward to working with Ian and the team in the development of solutions to further assist the industry in the delivery of high-quality services.”

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Note to editors:

EPM Transport Solutions, formed in 1986, provides software to help passenger transport operators and transport authorities reduce operational costs, improve financial performance and better serve their customers. In addition, EPM is the UK’s leading BSOG auditor and concessionary reimbursement consultancy.

EPM Transport Solutions trades as EPM Bus Solutions, Omnibus Solutions and 3Squared.

EPM Bus Solutions:

Omnibus Solutions:


Press contact:
Harminder Sangha
07538 935 568

Quarterly bus statistics for October to December 2021

bus statistics

30 March 2022 – Quarterly bus figures showing local bus passenger journeys in England for October to December 2021, have been published on the DfT website.

The statistics show 2.45 billion passenger journeys during the three-month period, a 15% increase when compared with the previous year.

bus statistics

Bus travel outside London increased by 0.17 billion (17%) compared with the previous year, to 1.16 billion, whilst bus use in London increased by 0.16 billion passenger journeys (15%) to 1.29 billion.

When comparing October to December 2021 with the corresponding 3 months of 2020, bus use in London increased by 48%. Bus use in England outside London increased by 59% compared with the same quarter in 2020.

This publication covers October to December 2021, which coincides with the application of movement restrictions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Great Britain.

Read the full document: Quarterly bus statistics: October to December 2021

Video – Bus operator efficiency around the clean bus revolution

Bus operator efficiency around the clean bus revolution, bus operator

Bus operators will need to address a number of issues in order to be in a position to run a fully electrified operation or one with a mixture of alternative fuels vehicles.

Sam Greaves, Head of Service Delivery at Tower Transit, discusses the issues in this 4-part video series on the clean bus revolution and its impact on bus operator efficiency.

Bus operator efficiency, Sam Greaves, Tower Transit

Getting enough power to run services

Efficiency issues around depot electrification

Impact of EVs on the efficiency chain

Bus depot location and efficiency

Supporting operators to improve efficiency when scheduling alternative fuels vehicles

Sam Greaves
Head of Service Delivery at Tower Transit

How OmniBASE has improved efficiency at Tower Transit around scheduling electric vehicles.

Produce efficient and accurate vehicle schedules quickly

Conceive, plan and schedule complete operations in OmniBASE.

Squarepeg Buses digitalises scheduling and allocation with Omnibus cloud solutions

Squarepeg Buses digitalises scheduling and allocation with Omnibus cloud solutions

Squarepeg Buses, an independent operator in Leeds, has selected Omnibus cloud solutions to optimise scheduling and operational activities. 

The operator provides public, private and school transport services to a loyal customer base in the city and surrounding areas and needed software to work smarter in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Established in 2009 and with a peak vehicle requirement (PVR) of 13, the operator will deploy timetabling, vehicle scheduling, rostering, mapping, depot allocation and data sharing solutions. The Omnibus software has been developed over 30 years and is designed to gain operational and cost efficiencies in the planning of services as well as making the process easier for schedulers. 

Simon Daymond, Director of Squarepeg Buses, said: “We’ve always embraced technology and our approach has been to find opportunities through software, rather than scrambling for solutions when problems occur. Covid brought this to the fore and gave us an opportunity to pause and reflect on what we do as a business.  

“We were impressed by the clear superiority of the Omnibus products and the cloud benefits they will provide our family-focussed business. We’re driven by the needs of our passengers; the team at Omnibus has a strong background in the bus industry and deep understanding of the challenges operators face which will make a major contribution to the continued high-quality of our services.” 

Peter Crichton, Founder of Omnibus, said: “We are delighted that Squarepeg Buses has chosen Omnibus to address their scheduling and operational requirements to support their future growth and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Our technology is designed specifically for schedulers and is quick and easy to use with efficient processes which improve productivity.” 


PR contact at Omnibus, part of the EPM Group:
Harminder Sangha
+44 (0)7538 935 568

Powering the future of your bus operations

Grow patronage, boost revenue, and drive operational efficiency.

Join us at the ALBUM Conference 2022

Album Conference 2022 in Blackpool

10 March 2022 – Join Omnibus and EPM on 26th & 27th April at Village Hotel Blackpool for the ALBUM Conference 2022.

Focusing on the collective challenge to modernise, decarbonise and digitalise to grow faster in the bus sector, ALBUM Conference features an exciting line-up of key speakers and offers a chance to network with industry colleagues.

Album Conference 2022 in Blackpool

Visit us on stand 31 in the main conference room and speak to Software Director Nick Brookes, BSOG Director Mat Hanlon, Account Manager Penny Johnson, Omnibus Founder Peter Crichton and Product Owner Aiden Proctor on the latest passenger transport software to increase commercial, financial and operational performance – from timetabling to depot allocation.

RSVPBook your tickets

Visit the websiteALBUM Conference


Village Hotel Blackpool
E Park Dr

ALBUM Conference 2022

26th & 27th April

Village Hotel Blackpool

Video – Omnibus simplifies electric vehicles scheduling

Omnibus simplifies electric vehicles scheduling

Sam Greaves, Head of Service Delivery at Tower Transit UK, has been in the bus industry for over 25 years. In this video he explains how his schedulers are using the alternative fuels functionality in our vehicle scheduling module OmniBASE to efficiently schedule electric buses.

Empowering you with software to drive your business forward

Intuitive. Seamless. Dynamic.

Over £150m support for bus and light rail services

bus operator support

1 March 2022 – The Government will provide over £150 million as a final Covid-19 support package to help local transport authorities and bus operators run services.

The funding announced today builds on almost 2 years’ worth of unprecedented government support to keep local bus and light rail networks running, with around £2 billion made available to over 160 operators during the pandemic.

bus operator support

This represents the final tranche of pandemic-related support to operators and will run for 6 months until October 2022.

Not only will this new funding support operators and authorities as they adapt to changing travel patterns – it will also help the continued delivery of enhanced partnerships, with local authorities working closely with bus companies to draw on their operating knowledge and marketing skills.

Additionally, it will support local authorities and operators across England as they continue working on bus service improvement plans (BSIPs) and delivering substantive improvements to local services.

This additional package will help millions of passengers get around as they return to the network.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The funding I’ve announced today will ensure millions of us can continue to use vital public transport services and brings the total we’ve provided to the sector to keep services running throughout the pandemic to over £2 billion. Not only that – as we look ahead and continue our work to overhaul services and build back better from the pandemic, this funding will also help authorities and operators work together to provide even better services for people right across the country.

“The government is investing over £3 billion in bus services by 2025, including £1.2 billion to improve fares, services and infrastructure, and a further £525 million for zero emission buses.”

Roads minister Baroness Vere said: “Millions of people rely on buses and trams to get them to work, school and the shops, which is why we have already provided billions of pounds of support for the sector throughout the pandemic. This latest funding builds on that support and will help keep services running as we emerge from Covid-19 and ensure networks meet passenger demand.”

Graham Vidler, Chief Executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), said: “This welcome funding will help operators have the certainty they need to run an extensive network of services over the coming months as we all adjust to life after the pandemic.

“In the longer term, the bus network will need to adapt to meet passengers’ new travel patterns. Over the coming months, operators will be working closely with local authorities to plan future bus networks and introduce plans to grow passenger numbers. To aid these local efforts we look forward to working with the government to loudly promote bus travel.”

This funding is dependent on local areas and operators co-designing a financially sustainable and passenger-focused public transport network, that works for changing travel patterns post-pandemic.