Following Sanders Coaches’ success at the UK Bus Awards, JAMES DAY speaks to Charles Sanders about his company’s standout BSIP-boosted X55 service, and the challenges facing a growing operator in rural Norfolk.

ABOVE: 527 (BV72 KXB) named Brian Billman, a Volvo B8R with MCV EvoRa bodywork, acquired and dedicated for the route X55 (North Walsham and Norwich). The vehicle passes Castle Meadow Norwich city centre in April 2023.

Holt-based Sanders Coaches can boast one of the best examples of Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) funding achieving long term benefits. Its X55 service, which was overhauled with the help of funding, has hugely impressive passenger growth.

It now carries more than 30% more passengers than pre-Covid, and could soon sustain itself with no financial support whatsoever.

The success of this route, along with the company’s approach to training and passenger information, drew the attention of the UK Bus Awards. It gave the company a much deserved Independent Operator of the Year award in 2023.

After handing the award to Managing Director Charles Sanders on stage myself, I was keen to speak with him to learn more.

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