The National Final
The National Final takes place in Blackpool on a weekend in early September. The headquarters for the event is the Imperial Hotel Blackpool, on North Shore, where the theory tests are held and the awards ceremony takes place.
Most companies choose to accommodate their teams at the Imperial Hotel as part of the reward for success in the local qualifying contest, but there is no obligation to do so. The Imperial Hotel package negotiated by BDoY includes a place at the gala dinner, whereas teams staying at other hotels need to book and pay for places at the dinner with the BDoY Competition Secretary.
Please note that responsibility for booking hotel rooms and places at the gala dinner rests with the individual competing companies.
Timetable of Events
The majority of teams arrive in Blackpool during the Saturday afternoon in readiness for the briefings in the afternoon and the gala dinner in the evening at the Imperial Hotel Blackpool.
The purpose of the dinner is to bring together all the competitors, their colleagues, families and supporters in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere before the serious business of competition on the Sunday morning. It is an ideal opportunity for bus company directors, managers, staff and drivers to meet with colleagues from all parts of the UK.
There is a detailed briefing of the competitors by the Operations Director on the theory and driving tests they will encounter on the Sunday morning, and it is for this reason that we encourage all competitors to attend the briefing, even if not staying at the Imperial Hotel, as this completes their preparation for the final.
The BDoY team sets out the course early on the Sunday morning, and all competitors are welcome to walk round the course to help understand the briefing and perhaps to decide on strategy.
On competition day, all entrants are deemed to be working for BDoY’s fictitious Middle Walk Bus Company, and all drivers will have received a copy of that company code of conduct.
The day seeks to simulate a driver’s normal working day. All competitors will have received a personal timetable, which requires them to undertake a breathalyser test, sign on , show their driving licence, which will be free of endorsements, along with their DCPC card and present themselves at the specified times for both the theory test in the Imperial Hotel and for their driving test.
Buses are kindly loaned by competing and other companies, and any operator who brings a bus to Blackpool is most welcome to lend it for use in the competition. The Vice-President’s cup is awarded for the best-presented buses used in the competition.
For a period of 3 or 4 hours, BDoY operates the most intensive bus service in the UK. Competitors leave every 2 minutes on the 3 mile course, which incorporates some manoeuvring exercises followed by a circuit, in normal traffic, along the Promenade and Middle Walk. Drivers are required to stop with precision at a number of bus stops, and marshals will be stationed around the course to judge drivers signalling, positioning etc.
Each driver’s run normally lasts about 15-20 minutes. The buses carry passengers (but fares are not charged!) as the competition vehicles may be used by drivers, their families and friends to travel between the Imperial Hotel, where the theory tests take place and the starting point for the driving tests.
The tests usually finish around 13.00, giving everyone a break for lunch while the results are compiled prior to the awards presentation in the Imperial Hotel at around 16.00.
Middle Walk Bus Services
To give the competition the closest possible association with a bus driver's day-to-day job, competitors are required to conduct themselves as though they work for Middle Walk Bus Services on the day of the competition. This enables BDoY to set consistent standards for the competitors regarding such matters as:
- dress code;
- reporting times;
- customer care;
- general driving style; and
- exactly how and where to stop at bus stops.
Middle Walk Bus Services also has its risk assessment and insurance obligations for the event.
All competitors receive a leaflet before the event on the policies and performance expectations of 'employees' of Middle Walk Bus Services.
During the final, you will gain points for successfully completing the tasks on the course, or correctly answering questions in the Theory Test. However, penalty points will be applied during the National Final for various infringements including:
- Dangerous or careless driving – suspension pending investigation.
- Driving without due care and attention
- Failure to conform to the Highway Code
- Touching, running on to or over any kerb, or simulated kerb.
- Failure to follow the designated route.
- Exceeding the maximum speed limit.
- Failure to maintain forward or reverse movement (for each shunt)
- Failure to comply with company regulations.
- Incorrect answers in the theory test.
Please note, penalties may be applied for other infringements.
Assistance from any person which could influence the performance of a competitor will lead to automatic disqualification from the competition. For safety reasons spectators must not enter any part of the test area. Adults are requested to keep children under control whilst in the vicinity of any test areas.