Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Slow rollout of New Routemasters for route 21

The rollout of the three-door two-staircase hybrid buses called New Routemasters continues. However, route 21’s conversion is slow, but according to London Vehicle Finder there is usually one New Routemaster in service. Route 21 is operated from New Cross (NX) garage and is contracted to Go Ahead London.

The past week has been one of the slowest for some months for new buses into service In London, still with several of Go-Ahead’s MHVs, WHVs and EHs plus Metroline’s VWHs parked up. However, two months after the contract date, just two LTs have now entered service on Go-Ahead route 21.

Keep an eye on route 21 at the London Vehicle Finder website to see when a New Routemaster enters service, the fleet code starts with ‘LT’.

The last routes to convert to New Routemasters will be routes 48, 76, 254 and East London Transit routes EL1, EL2 and EL3.

In other news, Leeds has lost its battle with trying to introduce a trolleybus system; they have instead committed to a mass transit service.

Despite losing its battle to introduce a trolleybus system, Leeds remains committed to a ‘mass transit service’, according to its council leader Judith Blake who has unveiled plans to invest £270million in public transport in the city over the next four years as part of the Leeds Transport Strategy.

Enhancing bus and park-and-ride provision is a key element of the strategy, with more than £110million is to be invested in a range of infrastructure improvements, supported by £71million from First West Yorkshire for at least 284 new ‘low-emissions buses’ by the end of 2021. The council leader points out that currently 250,000 bus journeys are made every day in Leeds, and the measures outlined are part of an aim to double the numbers of bus passengers in the next 10 years.

The report identifies plans for bus priority measures on the A61 south and north, A660 and A647 and also suggests a city centre Ultra Low Emission Bus Zone.

The £270million total investment includes £173.5million of Department for Transport funding secured following the decision not to proceed with the New Generation Transport trolleybus, with this funding needing to be invested in public transport before the end of 2021. The additional funding comes from First West Yorkshire, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and private developer contributions.

“The investment now is a response to the action people told us they wanted to see delivered as soon as possible, but as a city and for the regional economy we continue to need a viable mass transit system which benefits all communities in Leeds and will boost growth and onward connectivity,” says Blake. “Mass transit systems can cost around £80million per kilometre and take a long time to plan and deliver, so such a scheme was not possible with the current level of funding available and also the timescale the government set us.

“To bring about such a scheme must remain the ambition so we are calling on all key partners and everyone in the city to work together to secure the very significant amount of funding we need.”

Does this mean that First West Yorkshire is committed to rolling out the three-door two-staircase New Routemaster buses they proposed back in 2014? There’s still no update from them though. As the two-door one-staircase New Routemaster exists and is known as the SRM - this gives First West Yorkshire the option to purchase them.

Next up we have the news that Stagecoach has invested £5.3 million for 25 brand new double deck buses.

Stagecoach customers along the Kent and East Sussex coast can now enjoy an even more comfortable bus ride as the company launch a brand-new fleet of buses.

£5.3 million worth of ultramodern double deckers will be out on the roads from Monday (5 December). Most of the new buses will operate on the popular ‘Wave’ routes between Dover and Hastings. The 25 new state-of-the-art vehicles are designed to accommodate passengers in comfort and convenience. As well as being more environmentally friendly, the buses feature free Wi-Fi and USB charging points for customers to keep connected and fully charged whilst on the move. Each bus is equipped with air-chill technology that maintains a comfortable interior temperature whatever the season.

The new buses are the latest instalment in a £11 million investment in 55 brand new vehicles this year. The company’s managing director, Philip Norwell, said: “This is exciting news for our customers and for people thinking of choosing to use the bus. The Wave maintains important links between coastal towns and with these new buses we hope to tempt even more people to try the service.”

Stagecoach says that the Wave routes carried 2.7 million passengers in the year up to April 2016, saving vast numbers of car journeys.

Mr Norwell added “We know that providing a quality bus service doesn’t just mean comfortable seats. People want to use their travel time to catch-up and stay connected. Our free Wi-Fi and USB charging will allow them to do this, contributing to our customers’ overall journey experience whilst reducing our impact on the environment.”

The British built Alexander Dennis buses have ‘Euro 6’ specification low-noise engines which represent the very latest in clean engine technology. Cummins, the engine manufacturer, have developed an after-treatment system which filters out particle emissions by 98% compared to the previous design standard.

For comfort the buses come with high-back faux-leather seats and tinted windows to reduce the build-up of heat inside. On the outside the buses sport a new and refreshed ‘Wave’ livery featuring a montage inspired by the seaside route. Stagecoach will be running a Twitter competition asking customers to guess how many starfish are featured in the design. The winner, who will be announced on Twitter on Monday 19 December, will receive a month’s free bus travel on Stagecoach buses in the south east worth £84.50. You can follow Stagecoach on Twitter @StagecoachSE

The new buses coincide with the company’s investment in digital technology which is transforming the journey experience for its customers.

This investment has included the introduction of real-time tracking technology on all Stagecoach buses and the launch of mobile tickets earlier in November. Stagecoach also recently announced plans to deliver contactless payments on all of its vehicles in the south east by the end of 2017.

On Mondays to Saturdays Wave route 100, 101 and 102 buses run up to every 15 minutes between Dover and New Romney and every 30 minutes on to Hastings. On Sundays, the routes operate every 30 minutes between Dover and New Romney and hourly on to Hastings.

I found it interesting that 55% of Alexander Dennis shareholding is owned by Brian Souter and his sister, Ann Gloag. Both are founders of Stagecoach. It’s interesting how they own Stagecoach, a transport company, as well as a bus manufacturing industry.

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