50,000 festival goers over 5 days

Nearly 1,500 bus journeys completed

The challenge

Boardmasters is one of Cornwall’s biggest festivals mixing top end music entertainment, beach and surfing activities and sports. It attracts around 50,000 festival goers over a five-day early August period to the normally much quieter Watergate Bay and Fistral Beach near Newquay.

Parking on site is extremely limited and First Travel Solutions (FTS) in partnership with First Kernow were asked to develop and operate bus shuttles that would provide transport for 45,000 fans to and from Newquay town centre and the festival sites.

Unlike many other festivals, ‘Boardmasters’ has a more fluid structure with event goers moving from site to site and via Newquay’s attractions and town facilities across all parts of the day.

Newquay only has a population of around 22,000 and as such the number of attendees puts considerable pressure on the town and its traffic management. The organisers were only provided with a license for the event on the proviso that public transport was prioritised.

A shuttle service was therefore required to operate across the three mile route for 21 hours a day and in a manner that provided enough capacity and allowed the town and its residents to continue their daily lives.

The solution

FTS developed a plan that provided bus connections between Newquay’s bus and rail stations and the Watergate and Fistral beaches.

The shuttles were in operation each day between 0700-0400 and carried not only festival goers but tonnes of camping equipment and personal belongings.

25 staff were rostered across the various sites and were on hand to manage queues, bus loadings, ticketing operations and temporary bus stations at festival sites.

Cash handling was managed in a safe and secure manner but to ease queuing and transaction times, FTS introduced advance ticketing and m-tickets via the First Group app.

Vehicles were tracked and onsite management control were able to flex the services as needed and respond to additional requirements such as staff buses to assist with beach cleaning.

The result

The operation was a tremendous success and delivered against several key indicators. Nearly 1500 bus journeys were completed, and 56,000 attendees used the shuttle services.

This reduced car movement in and around Newquay and the festival by over a third and meant residents and event goers all got to where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.

A robust service was delivered, and no complaints were received either from festival attendees or local residents. Health and safety is of course always paramount and no accidents or injuries were recorded throughout the operation.

FTS will be providing a similar operation in 2019 and festival organisers have asked the team to propose a multi-year solution.