- Another LEZ starts. On 1 April the UK's second low emission zone came into force, this time in Norwich. It covers all registered vehicles and applies to all buses using the Castle Meadow interchange in the city centre. Initially 40% of buses operating city services and 20% operating rural services must meet Euro 3 standard though by April 2010 this will have risen in two stages to a 100%/50% city/rural split.
- New TC for Eastern Region. Richard Turfitt has been appointed as the new Traffic Commissioner for the Eastern Region from 1 May. Aged 37, Mr Tufitt, a barrister by trade, will cover all road operators in the Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Leicester, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, Leicester, Luton, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Rutland, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock areas.
- EYMS boss blasts concession scheme. Peter Shipp, Chief Executive of East Yorkshire Group (and LEYTR member) was quoted in the trade press last week as describing the free concession scheme "a sorry mess". He described the scheme as ill-considered and under-funded. 10 days prior to the scheme being implemented, he said that Hull City Council, in whose area half of EYMS bus journeys are made, had yet to make clear what their conditions would be. Happily we now know and have produced information on this matter. He concluded by saying, "... I am sure that the Government will try and lay the blame on local authorities and bus operators when it is in fact the government itself which is the cause of this complicated and ill thought-out scheme."
- Buy Megariders online. Stagecoach has launched its Megarider unlimited weekly travel ticket online, after what it claims to have seen as a 60% growth in enquiries for its online Unibus ticket. The Megarider on sale is for 28 days and can be bought from www.buymymegarider.com
- First high-occupancy lane opens. The UK's first high-occupancy lane on a motorway was opened by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly on 20 March. The £5.33 million, 1.7 mile stretch of the M606 links with the M62 between Leeds and Bradford and is open to cars and taxis with two or more occupants - plus buses and coaches - and by-passes the congested section of motorway where the M606 and M62 merge.
- New gold-look to Citylink 58. Go North-East has relaunched its Citylink 58 service by painting the vehicles gold to create a high-quality feel to the route. A special launch took place a week ago today which saw models dressed in elegant gold evening wear. A £2 return fare has been introduced as a special offer for a fortnight, with a weekly ticket being available for £10.
- Truonian deal cleared. The acquisition of Truonian by First has been cleared by the OfT. The purchase will not be referred to the Competition Commission.
- First to invest £8m in York. An £8 million investment has been promised by First for its York operation, with the introduction of 44 new buses this year. 29 Volvo B7RLEs with Wright bodies (7 entered service in November last year) and 15 articulated Mercedez-Benz Citaros will replace existing like-for-like vehicles. York City Council had a hand in deciding the type of vehicles being introduced.
- Coaches to use bus lanes in Oxford. With immediate effect, coaches may use Oxford's bus lanes. This follows an investigation paid for by Oxfordshire County Council, the results of which showed that bus punctuality would almost certainly be unaffected and that by allowing coaches to use the bus lanes, congestion overall could be reduced.
- Walkers withdraw tv commercial. Walkers Crisps has withdrawn an advert that shows a bus being de-roofed whilst driven by retired footballer Gary Lineker. Walkers apologised for the commercial after numerous complaints had been received.
- First fined £120k following employee's death. First has been fined £120,000 by the Health & Safety Executive, following the death of on employee who was run-over and crushed at its Rainham bus depot in Havering. First were also ordered to pay £95,000 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Brian Norman was crouching in front of a bus to replace its headlight while it was queuing to be fuelled and cleaned. As he was doing this a contract employee to First moved the bus forward as there was no indication that anyone was working on the bus. Mr. Norman died of his injuries.
- NCP play "vital" role at T5. NCP is playing a vital role in the new Terminal 5 that opened last week at Heathrow Airport. It has a workforce of 158, most of which are employed as bus drivers providing air-side transfers for around 20,000 passengers on a daily basis.
- Three ethanol Scanias for NCT. Three Scania 'Ecolink' buses will be introduced to the roads of Nottingham this week to commence the start of an 18 months trial of ethanol-fuelled buses. They're being operated by Nottingham City Transport and will be deployed on Service 30 (City Centre-Wollaton). The vehicles were purchased following a successful bid by Nottingham City Council for £520,000 from the East Midlands Development agency, which also sees a new ethanol pumping station be installed next to the NCT Lower Parliament Street depot.
- Megabus to expand State-side (and into Canada). Despite an advertised overall loss, Stagecoach's US Megabus operation has announced a huge increase in its network from 30 May. New services will operate from New York city to a total of seven different destinations: Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Buffalo, Atlantic City and New Jersey. A cross-border service to Toronto, Canada, will also be introduced. Since its launch in April 2006, Megabus US has welcomed 900,000 passengers. The expansion is seen as a response to the competition with First, who have recently started their similar BoltBus operation. Both operators offer wi-fi although Megabus is offering free seats during the first week of the expanded services.
- Bridge collision. A Stagecoach in Fife double decker collided with a bridge on Dunnikier Road, Kirkaldy on 19 March. One passenger sitting on the upper deck was slightly injured and the bus lost most of its roof. Only 7 passengers were on board at the time. This is not the first time a double decker has collided with the same bridge.
- £7m being spent in Derby. Derby City Council and Arriva Midlands signed an agreement on 26 March that will see a third of Arriva Derby's fleet be replaced within this year. Arriva Midlands will spend £3 million in October on 23 new single-deck buses for its Chaddesden and Oakwood routes and 8 midibuses for services to Mackworth and Littleover. £4 million will be spent by February 2009 on 17 double-deckers for its Sinfin and Mackworth routes and 11 single-decks for buses to Chellaston. It's understood some of the new vehicles will be Scanias. Derby City Council, in return, is spending £150,000 installing information displays in Alvaston and in Sinfin by 2009/10 and Mackworth by 20010/11.
- Time to prey. A London bus driver stunned his passengers by pulling over his double decker, opening the cab door, laying down his prayer mat facing Mecca, and praying for a few minutes. The driver then calmly got up, re-entered his cab and continued his route.
- Biggest increase? Is this the largest single fare increase of the week anywhere in the UK? Stagecoach in Lincolnshire fare on Service 250 (Grimsby-Barton on Humber) rose from £2.40 to £3.00 for a single between Grimsby and the village of Ulceby. Dave Skepper, Commercial Director for the company said that an average fare rise of 8.5% is a little higher than they'd have liked to have implemented. It is understood shortfalls in concession reimbursement are key to many operators raising adult fares higher than they would otherwise do.
- Fastrack wins another award. Fastrack in Kent has won the ITS (UK) Innovation Award, given for doing the most to further intelligent transport systems.
- The Big Lemon rolls on. Brighton-based bus operator The Big Lemon was fined £450 and told they cannot register any new services until after August this year after admitting their guilt in ceasing bus operations without giving the required 56 days' notice to VOSA. The Big Lemon's proprietor Tom Drewitt explained he felt he had no option other than to cease operations without giving notice after one of his buses had its wires cut by vandals overnight. The firm commenced operation in February and has seen steady passenger growth. Come September, following a 'period of reflection' Mr Drewitt says the potential for growth could happen.
- It can only increase! Prior to the recent free travel for concessions in England, 26% of all local bus journeys made within England, 20% were done so by concessions, who at the time were afforded free travel within their local council's area. What this percentage will rise to is open to debate. It's safe to assume it's not likely to decrease.
03 April 2008
Recent BUS/COACH developments, no 4
Posted by LEYTR