31 August 2007

Weekly Transport Update 6

  • ADL's hybrid trials. Alexander-Dennis plans to trial ten hybrid based buses on equal numbers of its Enviro200 single decker buses and Enviro400 double decker buses for operation in London during the spring of 2008.
  • Brum partnership agreed. A voluntary partnership between Centro (WMPTA) and Travel West Midlands was signed on 23 August, which Centro hopes will see an increase in passenger numbers of 10% within 1 year. The deal with transform six routes in Birmingham, Walsall and West Bromwich to give passengers faster, cleaner and more frequent buses. The services affected are routes 1 (Acocks Green-Five Ways); 377 (Walsall-Sutton Coldfield); 451 (Sutton Coldfield-West Bromwich); 934 (City-Doe Bank); 993 (City-Streetly); and 997 (City-Walsall). Routes 934/993/997 will be branded 'Premier Line' and come fitted with leather seats, air conditioning and tinted windows.
  • Top with Horrible Histories. Edinburgh Bus Tours' Horrible Histories open-top services have come 18th in The Telegraph's "Top 20 summer days out". Covering the darker side of Edinburgh a family ticker costs around £20.
  • The Kings Ferry happy with i4. The very first Scania Irizar i4 coach inspected by a UK operator took place last week with The Kings Ferry. With its aircraft-like interior and its exterior 'wow-factor' the vehicle fits in well with the firm's 78 other vehicles and will primarily be operating commuter services.
  • Surrey re-brand for NEG. Travel London is re-branding its 47 low-floor, single-deck fleet of buses operating from the firm's Byfleet depot from 1 September 2007. Branded as Travel Surrey, the new-look vehicles will operate Services 426/446, which the company took over from Surrey Connect earlier this year. The new identity will be unveiled at Thorpe Park on 4 September 2007.
  • NX straps them in. Forthcoming legislation for under-14s wearing seatbelts aboard coaches is looming and National Express Ltd has announced its ambitious plans to conform to the new law by introducing 'Child Friendly Zones' to all of its coaches: ages 0-18months must be sat on a rear-facing seat; ages 18-36months must sit on a forward-facing seat; ages 4-7years must sit on a booster seat with a comfort-fit belt (provided by National Express); and ages 8+years must sit on a booster seat with a comfort-fir belt (provided by NX). Parents may decline to use booster seats, resulting in them travelling at their own risk.
  • NX clear them out. The fleet of 20 tri-axle Scania Levante coaches recently allocated to Services A4/A6 (Golders Green/Victoria-Stansted Airport) that National Express have placed into service have state-of-the-art onboard toilets, designed by NX's Head of Engineering, Gerry Price (I've actually met him). They are far more spacious with LED mood lighting and a window. A special air replacement system allows far less air from within the confines of the toilet area to sneak into the saloon. They also feature a mirror, automatic taps and soap dispenser, rounded corners with a minimalist feel and easy-to-clean modern layout.
  • Arriva Darlington acquisition completed. The sale of Stagecoach's Darlington business, including all its vehicles and 78 members of staff, are now part of Arriva North East following the OFT's decision to clear Arriva's purchase of the business "lock, stock and barrel".
  • Mayor to help those on benefits. Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has launched a scheme that will allow up to 250,000 Londoners on Income Support to travel on TfL's bus and tram network for half-price fares. This follows an agreement between the Mayor and the state-owned Venezuelan oil company, reducing the price of its diesel by 20%.
  • Free travel for Scots kids put on hold. In an attempt to reduce the 'school run', the Scottish National Party has drawn up plans to allow free travel for Edinburgh's school children; however this has been put on hold. The SNP claims this is because of the Scottish Executive's plans to press ahead with the city's tram project despite this being against the SNP's wishes.
  • Stagecoach Rail profits up. Twice as much profit has been made by Stagecoach Group plc's Rail Division than its bus division during the first half of the year, according to figures released by the group this week. With the Group's AGM looming a figure of 7.6% was released. Stagecoach's shares have reached a recent high of 223p, though in recent days reduced to around 209p.
  • More loos please. Bus drivers in London plan to strike unless proper toilet facilities were provided along the routes they drive and at their workplaces in general. Specifically unblocking obstacles and faster action is seen as a way to improve matters TfL have not declined in principle. Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, has written to the Unite trades union informing them he has given TfL sufficient funds to allow them to speed things up.
  • Notts fines bus lane abusers. Nottingham City Council has spent £100,000 installing cctv equipment to catch motorists illegally using bus lanes in and around the city. Motorists breaking the law will receive a fine of £60 through the post.
  • Cardiff spitter jailed. Astonishingly, a Cardiff male, who spat at a bus driver in the city for not allowing him travel for queue jumping has been jailed following a trace through the Police's DNA database providing a positive match to the offending 20yr old male.
  • Swans selling NX's first Levantes. Swans Travel are selling their two Volvo B12Bs with Caetano Levante C49FTL bodies that were the first of their type to enter service on National Express diagrams between Liverpool-Manchester-Leeds on Service 060. Haytons now operate the 5 return journeys using their own vehicles after Swans surprisingly ceased operation of the route (as mentioned in Weekly Transport Update 4). They are being sold for £189,995+VAT.