04 August 2007

Weekly Transport Update 2

  • Plaxton launch their new 'Cheetah' body based on the Mercedes-Benz Vario chassis. Following sales in excess of 1000 the Cheetah design has evolved. Launched at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park the new design remains 8.5m in length though is 1cm wider now (2.4m) and slightly lower at 2.86m (previously 2.94m). The midi coach sector is fiercely fought over with no shortage of competition offering quality alternatives.
  • Thames Gateway Bridge deferred. Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has deferred the decision on the proposed Thames Gateway Bridge following concerns over the benefit of the scheme. This is the second Public Inquiry into the scheme.
  • Peterborough Bus Wins Race. Four commuters: one on foot, one on a bike, one on a bus and one in a car, staged a race from residential Peterborough to the city centre leaving at 0800hrs. The bus won taking 14 mins, followed by the bike at 15 mins, the car driver took 21 mins and the walker 59 mins.
  • Wembley Parking explained. Dedicated coach parking at Wembley Statium is both expensive and scarce. Parking must be pre-ordered and can only be arranged for coaches bringing parties to Wembley Stadium; coaches must not arrive more than 3 hours before the event start time; operators unable to park at the Stadium should drop-off there as normal and will be directed to alternative parking locations; setting-down of passengers should only take place in designated areas not on nearby streets.
  • National Express's 61-seaters take to the road. Six tri-axle Caetano Levante-bodied Scania K340 have entered service on National Express's busy Stansted Airport-London services. The first day was 27 July. A batch of 20 have been ordered, totalling £8.6million. Services A4/A6 provide 152 journeys a day between Golders Green/central London-Stansted Airport 24/7 and frequencies are as often as every 15 minutes. The additional 12 seats per journey will add up to 2,000 extra seats, daily, in conjunction with the other vehicles used on the routes.
  • Arriva trials biofuel. Arriva's Blyth depot in Northumbria is trialing B20 bio-diesel in its 75 vehicles.
  • National Express HQs merge. Up to 100 jobs are to go at its three HQs in Birmingham, currently overseeing the Company's rail, bus and coach divisions. A new, centralised HQ will take control of all aspects of the business, headed by Ray O'Toole, currently NX's Chief Operating Officer.
  • Southampton Uni trial Wi-Fi technology. A double decker operated by Accord plc has been fitted with Wi-Fi for a 20-day trial period to test passenger reaction. Operating on Service U1 between Southampton Airport Parkway-city centre, the bus will allow passengers to check their emails, download music and access the Internet while on the move.
  • "Major success" - Stagecoach Hovercraft. The two-week, £300,000 trial of the cross-Forth hovercraft Stagecoach implemented to coincide to major roadworks on the Forth Road Bridge has been hailed a "major success". More than 32,000 people used the two-craft Kirkcaldy-Portobello service; Stagecoach estimate annual operation of the service would cost £2million.
  • New DfT Signs book. The DfT has published a new "Know Your Traffic Signs" book. It explains all traffic signs and road markings within its 144 pages and is priced at £4.99.
  • Truro P&R approved. Truro's trial Park & Ride over the past summers has again been approved for operation between Threemileston-city centre. Parking for 1,200 cars is available.
  • Manchester's bus operators get behind TIF. GMPTA's £3billion Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) is being backed by all Manchester's bus operators as it was submitted to the DfT on 31 July. Approval of the funding wont be announced until Christmas. Forming a 5-year plan, the grant would see a "step-change" in all public transport plus minor congestion charging, to be completed by 2012.
  • Volvo results up, just. Volvo saw its sales increase by 5% to £5.24billion though a drop in operating income by 6% (£0.45million) and a decrease in income of 14% (£0.3million).
  • New Commuter Coach. 30 July saw the first day of operation of National Express's new commuter coach service MK1 between Milton Keynes-Canary Wharf. Aimed at commuters the departure from Milton Keynes Coachway is 0600 then calling Milton Keynes car parks at Atterbury, Childs Way and Kingston District Centre and dropping off in six key locations within central London including Angel station, Islington and Archway station. MK Metro (part of Arriva) operate the service, with higher-spec features including free Wi-Fi and daily newspapers. The vehicle used is FJ07 TKA, with Caetano Levante bodywork. A 'Commuter Pass' is available at £1,600 p/a, compared to £4,040 for an annual season ticket using the train.
  • Enviro200 to Scarborough. Alexander-Dennis Limited has revealed it plans to move production of its Enviro200 body from its Falkirk plant to Scarborough, in so doing additional capacity at Falkirk will allow speedier production of its Enviro400 body. Scarborough will continue to produce the Centro body.
  • TC shock over PCV/HGV test certificated. North Western Traffic Commissioner, Beverley Bell has "slated VOSA" for not including mileages on MOT test certificates. Ms Bell said that, as a regulator, she found it astonishing that unlike private cars, mileages were not entered on PCV/HGV test certificates.
  • Fake O Licences cost operator dear. Manchester-based minibus operator John Coleman, trading as Coleman's Travel, Stretford, was found guilty of two offences of using PCS O Licence discs with intent to deceive. A total fine of £2,000 was imposed.