11 February 2008

Recent BUS/COACH developments, no 1

  • Agreed TfL funding welcomed by Mayor. The Mayor of London and TfL have welcomed confirmation of a multi-billion pound, 10-year funding package to enable the renewal and expansion of the city's transport network over the next decade, including building Crossrail, the ongoing transformation of the Tube, preparations for the 2012 Olympics, the expansion of rail and bus services and programmes to promote walking and cycling. TfL's total funding of £39bn until 2017/18 was confirmed on Wednesday 6 February by the DfT. £33bn will be paid as grant funding from the DfT, with up to a further £6bn of borrowings allowed by TfL. The money was provisionally outlined in the government's Comprehensive Spending Review, announced in October 2007.
  • Stagecoach wont be referred. The OFT has reviewed the East Midlands rail franchise acquisition by Stagecoach and has decided not to refer it to the Competition Commission.

  • Angers as BSOG not increased. The devolved governments of Wales and Scotland have caused outcry amongst bus operators there by choosing not to increase Bus Service Operator Grant (BSOG) by 2p, which would bring it in line with the last fuel price increase of 2p per litre that occurred in October 2007.

  • More NX Wembley services. 14 additional National Express coach services have been added to its impressive network of towns and cities it offers direct Wembley Stadium services from. This brings the total number of places served to 57. None are within the LEYTR area, though nearby destinations include Peterborough, Nottingham and Chesterfield.

  • First reduces its emissions. First aims to reduce its fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by lowering the fuel/sulphur content and increasing the use of biofuels within its bus fleets. The first milestone will be on 1 March when its entire London bus operation will be running on B5 biodiesel - 5% biodiesel and 95% mineral diesel - and more than 50% of its remaining UK bus fleet will be running on the same.

  • Manchester bus priority scheme completed soon. From March over 150 traffic management measures, resulting in over 100 new bus lanes at a cost of £90 million will be completed in the Manchester area. Often causing controversy in the local press, the last nine years has seen road space taken away from car drivers in favour of buses and coaches - these not only include reducing the number of lanes for cars but also banning turns for cars, one-way orders, bus-only restrictions alterations to road markings. 12 remaining corridors within Greater Manchester are outstanding.

  • New NX livery for its bus & coach fleets unveiled. National Express officially unveiled its new corporate bus and coach liveries on Monday 4 February. At the launch was a tri-axle Scania Levante wearing the all-over white coach livery with new fleet names and thin, grey diagonal stripes to the rear, and a double decker wearing the new National Express West Midlands livery, featuring a red front and white rear with NX names proving much smaller alongside West Midlands vinyls. The firm's bus fleets will be named National Express Coventry, Dundee, West Midlands and London.

  • First driver jailed. Saeed Abbas, a First Huddersfield bus driver, has been sentenced to a seven year prison term, banned from driving for five years and ordered to re-take his driving test after the death of a pensioner following a crash he had while driving on 25 September 2006. His bus - Wrightbus Eclipse Gemini double decker - on route X6 crashed through a stone wall in Huddersfield, following driver fatigue four hours into his duty; he was also witnessed on cctv reading paper documents while driving.

  • New hi-tech bus data system in operation. Stagecoach has claimed to be the first bus operator in the UK to go live with a high-tech electronic bus data system that will deliver faster and more accurate travel information to passengers. Developed in partnership with the Department for Transport, Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and local transport authorities, the Electronic Bus Service Registration (EBSR) is being introduced on Stagecoach services in Cambridge and Peterborough. The company is planning a national roll-out of the new technology across its UK bus operations, with Oxford, the east of England, Wales, Manchester and west Scotland in line to benefit from the system later this year. EBSR is based around the National Bus Stops database (NAPTAN), which is maintained by local authorities across the UK. The system uses sophisticated mapping and database management tools to deliver data electronically between bus operators, transport authorities, and real time information and journey planning systems.

  • Bus journeys reach a decade high. The number of people travelling by bus has reached an 11-year high of 4.72bn journeys, according to a new report from the Confederation of Public Transport. The CPT said the figures for 2006 - the most recent available - showed a 3% rise on the previous year. Nearly one billion of the bus journeys made in 2006 were for shopping - outstripping those made to work and to school. We suspect the main cause for the increase is free local travel for concessions.

  • Boston received new town services. Three new routes are being introduced in Boston, Lincs, following funding being available by Lincolnshire County Council to upgrade the town's main urban bus services. The new routes will be given letters - A, B and C and will partially replace existing town services 58A and 58B, operated by Brylaine Travel. New Optare Slimline Solos will be purchased and operated by Brylaine and are expected to be painted in the distinctive "IT" (Into Town) green livery as seen where other schemes take place: Spalding and Sleaford. We hope to bring you more in the next edition of the LEYTR.

  • New night buses in Stoke. Four new night bus routes have been introduced in Stoke on Trent and the contract to operate them has been awarded to RML Travel for a period of 2.5 years. Numbered N1-N4 all routes operate with financial assistance on Friday and Saturday nights, each route making 4 journeys linking Hanley with Milton, Longton, Chell and Trentham. A flat fare of £2 is being offered. Vehicles used are MetroRiders in RML Travel's red livery.

  • Redby sell to Go North East. Sunderland-based bus and coach operator Redby sold its bus operation to Go-Ahead subsidiary Go North East on 28 January. Redby's managing director Jean Stratton plans to retire and this is seen as the catalyst for the sale. The firm's coach operation remains family-owned. Included in the deal with Go North East are 8 contracted bus services, 13 of the firm's 16 bus fleet, though 11 of which are to be sold by Go North East. 11 drivers and 2 mechanics were offered positions with Go North East. Redby retains some contract operation in the form of school swimming runs.