Mark Fowles, who revolutionised public transport in Nottingham, awarded OBE

Mark Fowles who held the position of Managing Director at Nottingham City Transport for twenty years until April 2021 has been honoured in this year’s New Year Honours List for his services to public transport and charity.

He is one of 36 people across logistics, roads, rail, bus and maritime have been awarded honours in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

To say that Mark Fowles revolutionised public transport in Nottingham is somewhat of an understatement. Mark had the strategic vision, determination and passion to take NCT, an under-achieving loss-making municipal bus company with a poor reputation, and transform it into the thriving beacon of public transport it has become today.

Under Mark’s vision and leadership, the customer, rather than operations, became Nottingham City Transport’s main focus – quite literally its driving force.

NCT is the only bus company to win UK Bus Operator of the Year an unprecedented five times, the story of how this unassuming Liverpool-born man made it his mission to improve the lives of the people of Nottingham by providing them with a safe, reliable, frequent, value-for-money, profitable bus network is as impressive as it is inspirational. 

NCT has one of, if not the, youngest fleets in the country, and more recently has brought the largest number of gas-powered double deckers to Nottingham. ‘Well to wheel’ these are the greenest buses on the road and are a testament to Mark’s unwavering enthusiasm for technology and the protection of the environment. 

Mark recognised the benefits a wide range of public transport providers brings to the city as a whole, and today, NCT’s services are accessible to more people than in any other city and fares are some of the lowest in the country. The company’s satisfaction score for 2019 (pre-Covid) was an amazing 95% (Transport Focus survey).

Accolades, awards, official recognition, superlative statistics, ‘firsts’ – Nottingham City Transport, with Mark at the helm were received regularly, notable achievements include the UK Bus Operator of the Year award wins in 2004, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2019 the Top National Bus Driver in 2014, 2018 and 2019 the Nottingham Post Excellence in Science and Technology Award 2015, and perhaps most notably, the European Business Award for Customer Focus in 2015.

Yet his success with NCT is only part of Mark’s contribution to the city and the industry as a whole.

For over 10 years he was on the Confederation of Passenger Transport bus commission, more recently as the Vice Chairman – the lobbying group that liaises with the Department for Transport on issues important to the industry, and he was Chairman of the East Midlands division from 2003-5.

In 2009 Mark was appointed to the board of Traveline UK to represent the Bus Industry and lead the change on behalf of the industry. In 2013 he became Chair of Traveline. Mark was also a non-executive director of EMTIS from 2001 (Traveline’s predecessor).

Mark was the Chairman of ALBUM 2017 to 2019 – the body representing Municipal operators and the independent sectors of the bus industry, and also the President of the Omnibus Society in 2018. He was also active in the Campaign for Level Boarding to help achieve a pathway for greater accessibility on the UK rail network.          

David Astill current NCT MD commented: “Mark Fowles was an outstanding leader of our business for twenty years, and all that worked closely with him know how deserving he is of this recognition and congratulate him on this marvellous award”                                                                                                                                                         

Yet Mark’s outstanding contribution to society doesn’t stop there. Together with his wife, he also set up a charitable body to raise funds for research into Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). This is a highly complex muscle wasting disease and is a condition Mark’s daughter, Kate, suffers from. He regularly co-ordinates activities such as charity golf days in order to raise money for this charity, and to date has raised over £125,000.

Mark stated: “I am pleased and delighted to receive this honour, it was a great privilege and honour to serve as Managing Director of Nottingham City Transport. I am proud of the Company’s achievements, and of my involvement within the bus industry and I’d like to thank employees, past and present, along with friends throughout the bus industry for their support”.

Mark Fowles is without doubt an innovative over-achiever and was a unique figure within the bus industry. He is applauded and highly-respected for his dedication and dogged commitment to making things better for Public Transport customers. Mark has had a hugely positive impact on the lives of people living and working in and around the city for nearly twenty years, and is a well-deserved recipient of the honour of OBE.

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