A good bus driver makes the difference


What makes your public transportation experience a good one? There are obvious factors like on-time arrivals and clean vehicles, but for most of us a good service from the man or woman at the wheel is of equally high importance. The public bus transportation industry in the greater Copenhagen area have for many years had a poor image in the public eye, which affected both commuters and potential job applicants. In collaboration with Stagis, the industry decided to turn around the negative image with the project ‘Chauffører med karaktér’ (Bus drivers with character).

“My passengers and I have great experiences together” – Gunnar, bus driver

‘Chauffører med karaktér’ has over the course of nearly four years focused on creating a positive image of public bus transportation and, chiefly, bus drivers in the greater Copenhagen area. We are very proud to hand over a project that has experienced very positive and measurable results.

The primary goals of the project have been to increase job satisfaction among bus drivers and to change the overall image of the public bus transportation industry. Before the project was launched in 2009, almost half of the involved bus drivers thought that their job and the bus industry in generalhad a bad image. A recent survey from August 2012 shows that this number has dropped to 12 per cent. Actually 84 per cent of the bus drivers take pride in their job today – compared with 66 per cent in 2009, and 90 per cent thrive at their workplace, which only 71 per cent did in 2009. This change for the better is a direct result of the project, and is especially due to the success of both internal and external communication efforts.

‘Chauffører med karaktér’ was a classic Stagis project in the sense that it called for our particular method of approaching a project where there is a need for finding, developing and expressing authentic strengths. Our certain method relies on the following five phases:

  1. Research – research and mapping of the company’s authentic strengths.
  2. Strategy – Development of strategy, process management and planning of e.g. scenarios to develop authentic strengths.
  3. Structural changes – Change management through cultural and structural changes, development and operation of change programs, new services, cultural interventions and internal education programs.
  4. Design – Development of the company’s symbols, surfaces and digital interaction.
  5. Communication – Communication and marketing across media channels, development of external image through e.g. events, campaigns and PR.

In our extensive research and mapping of the authentic strengths of the public bus transportation industry, we found, that the bus driver was the biggest asset. Therefore we concentrated on making the bus driver more accessible, showing the person behind the uniform.


Sulajman Baftijari wins “Busdriver with character of the year” at event on Christiansborg Slotsplads 2 September 2012

Changing the image of the bus driver in the public eye meant that the passengers had to be involved. We created a text message service where passengers could praise their local bus driver when he or she had made the commuting experience a good one. This was a huge success and a lot of passengers took part. Improving the image of the bus drivers and the industry in general naturally had to be backed up by internal change. Therefore we created an academy for mid-level managers and bus drivers, where they learned how to communicate better with each other, and also how to communicate better with passengers.

A very clear and recognisable design line was created for the project, and implemented in both internal and external communication. The clear graphic design line created a strong visual identity for the project, which both bus drivers and passengers immediately links to the project.

The internal communication effort included, but was not limited to, newsletters, break room posters, posters compiling praise from passengers, a project website and a Facebook-site to make sure that everyone working in the bus industry knew about the project. Externally we involved the passengers through campaigns in the busses, a text message service to give praise to the driver and to vote for the driver of the year. Additionally we made films about the daily life of a bus driver, created a website and Facebook-site, and twice coordinated an event celebrating the bus drivers with the most character based on the passengers text messages- just to name a few of the many activities in the course of the project.

Stagis initiated the project in 2009, and it stands as one of our biggest projects to date. The project ended in 2012.