Education Minister Nick Gibb has listened to the concerns of coach operators around drivers not getting adequate rest on tour, in a “positive” meeting with BUSK UK.L-R: MP Jessica Morden, Pat Harris, Nick Gibb, Stephen Gaiger of Nightcap and Perry Payne of BUSKBUSK’s Director Pat Harris and other members of the Nightcap campaign met Nick Gibb and the Department of Education’s John Motley last Tuesday (19 April) with a file of evidence collected over the last two years, including specific details from PC Coaches of Lincoln, to ensure schools book adequate accommodation for coach tour drivers.Pat Harris told routeONE: “The Education Minister seemed very taken aback when we explained how some tour companies force drivers to share rooms, sleep in tents, caravans or sheds at activity sites, and share shower blocks with children where the shower cubicle doors stop at the shoulder and knee. This compromises the driver’s position and also breaches good practice safeguarding guidance for children.“The Minister was very surprised to say the least when he learnt that up to 30% of coach crashes are linked to driver fatigue. Part of the research was undertaken by Loughborough University on behalf of the European Commission.“The same report stated that most crashes happen in the early morning hours or at the end of a shift. BUSK told the Minister that by the end of a shift some of these drivers will have been awake for 30-plus hours.“BUSK views the meeting as highly successful, and we are encouraged by the positive comments from both the Department of Education and the Minister.“We are also hearing from more and more coach companies that are planning to stop allowing their drivers to share rooms once their contracts for 2016 are completed. This rolling programme approach is excellent and we expect that more and more schools too will start to ask more pertinent questions of tour companies as they learn about how some of them are willing to put the party at risk by breaching their legal obligations.”
Reading Buses rolled out an appropriate orange-themed carpet when it launched the first of six new orange buses for the Woodley routes 12,13 and 14… and toasted them with orange juice.Innovative on-board features including USB charging, super fast 4G Wi-Fi and even a sofa in a group seating zoneThe six brand new Wrightbus Steetdecks have many advanced features and take the colour-coding of Reading’s routes to new levels for what the company describes as “important and growing services.”The orange Streetdeck first turned heads with it made its public debut at this year’s Bus Driver of the Year final in Blackpool last month (routeONE, BDoY Results, 7 September).In addition to an all-over orange livery, the colour theme is not only continued throughout the interior but is highlighted with orange marker lights that run the whole length of the vehicle.New and innovative on-board features including USB charging, super fast 4G WiFi and even a sofa in a group seating zone.Reading Buses Chief Executive Officer Martijn Gilbert says: “The £1.3m investment in these new buses will revitalize our Woodley routes, considerably enhancing the travelling experience for our customers and making these services an attractive and viable alternative to private car use.”Reading Buses rolled out an orange carpet for the launch
EvoBus (UK), Irizar UK and Scania GB all reveal numerous major deals as British market is buoyantGreenline Coach Holidays MD Andy Phillips (left) took a Scania InterlinkThree major suppliers announced significant major orders totalling over 100 coaches during Euro Bus Expo (EBE) as the first news of deals completed at the show became public.The largest single order was placed by Shearings Leisure Group, which extended its relationship with EvoBus (UK) by signing for a further 43 Mercedes-Benz Tourismos for delivery in 2017.Irizar UK, supplier of the Spanish coachbuilder’s DAF-powered integrals, reported 39 firm orders and one option.Seven are for its range-topping i8 integral. The Kings Ferry will take two alongside a pair of i6 integrals, and one will go to Golden Boy Coaches as part of a four-coach order.Ellisons Travel Services of St Helens placed a repeat order for the i8 integral, with its total of four representing the biggest single deal for the model so far.Scania Great Britain also reported major success at EBE, with orders for 22 coaches completed over the three days.Notably, 19 are for its recently-launched Interlink. Seven will go to Skills Coaches of Nottingham, five to Johnsons of Henley-in-Arden, three to Princess Coaches of Southampton and single vehicles to each of Astons Coaches, Attain Travel, Belle Coaches and Greenline Coach Holidays.Of the remaining three, Bullocks Coaches, Barry’s Coaches of Weymouth and Dunwood Travel have each committed to an Irizar i6-bodied chassis.“This has been a tremendously successful event for us, not only in terms of orders received but also with regard to the levels of interest shown in products,” says General Manager – Retail Sales Martin West.EvoBus (UK), Irizar UK and Scania Great Britain’s successes were replicated elsewhere at EBE, with many other manufacturers and dealerships reporting brisk business as demand for new coaches proved strong.
Investment in electric buses in Harrogate and York, re-freshing of its brands and creating cross-boundary city-to-city connections across the north is the vision that Transdev set out to politicians and transport officers as it staged a jaw-dropping VIP launch for its new express Leeds-Manchester Cityzap express route.It follows the success of Transdev’s debut Leeds-York Cityzap route, which carried 250,000 passengers in its first 12 months.The stunning backdrop of The Tetley centre for contemporary art and learning in Leeds provided the venue for a Guy Fawkes Night-themed celebration, under the title ‘Pride of the North’ – reflecting its major investment.From left to right: Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North; Alison Pilling, Transport for the North;Alison Chew, Transport for Greater Manchester; Eric Firth, West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Dave Pearson, West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Tim Wilbor, Team Leader 36, Transdev; Allan Gilmour, Coastliner leading driver, Transdev; Marco Smith, Cityzap driver, Transdev; Alex Hornby, CEO Transdev BlazefieldThe new route, which started on Sunday (6 November), is Transdev’s third inter-urban service into Manchester, alongside the Witchway, from Skipton and Burnley, and Red Express from Blackburn. It uses four luxury buses, refurbished by Thorntons.So far this year Transdev has launched 12 new and revitalised brands, with 44 new buses in a £6.82m investment – part of its five-year £7.1m visionAlso the event offered a teaser for the re-launch of the Witchway in 2018. Meanwhile, the pioneering Leeds-Harrogate route 36 – which in 2003 introduced hi-spec buses to the UK – has been upgraded to run every 10 minutes, adding another three luxury ‘deckers.Attendees included Dave Pearson, Director of Transport Services at West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Alison Chew, Interim Head of Bus Services at Transport for Greater Manchester; and Peter Molyneux, Strategic Road Network Director at Transport for the North.Says Mr Pearson: “We’re hearing lots about the government’s Northern Powerhouse, which for the most part is focussing on investing in rail. How do we connect Leeds and Manchester, with more and better options? Cityzap is here now, not in 2025 – we’re already doing it today.”Transdev CEO Alex Hornby says: “Our second Cityzap route, fulfils our vision to improve city-to-city connections across the north.“We created Cityzap after research showed people’s view of bus travel suffered due to the perception that even though buses linked major cities, the number of stops served along the route made it difficult for the bus to compete effectively against the car and the train.”“But for us, this is just the beginning – we want to create a desire to travel, with people wanting to be seen travelling on our buses.“Earlier this year we set out our five year vision for the North, and committed to invest £7.1 million in dozens of new and revitalised buses – an ambitious programme filled with new ideas to create a complete upgrade in the quality of service for thousands of customers every day.“In Harrogate, we’ll begin introducing a 100% electric, zero emissions bus fleet in 2018, powered by opportunity charging – a first in the UK. And in York, we are converting six City Sightseeing open top buses to 100% electric power, creating the UK’s first fully zero emissions sightseeing service.
Everywoman awardMary McKenna, Managing Director at Dublin-based Tour America, has been awarded Woman of the Year at the inaugural Everywoman in Travel Awards.She started the business in 1995, and she is believed to be the only female entrepreneur in Ireland to run a tour operation.
National Express Group has announced that it completed two small acquisitions last month (November) in the US and Spain. Both acquisitions are said to enable further expansion in target markets and include:A school coach and bus business with 204 vehicles, based in Cincinnati, Ohio.A Madrid bus operator with 73 vehicles, that provides staff transfers for a large local airline and national bank headquarters; an urban transport contract in Azuqueca, Guadalajara; and, school bus services in MadridBoth businesses are expected to deliver returns in line with National Express’ guidance of 15-20%.National Express says: “We continued to see a good trading performance across all of our divisions during October and November, in line with the trends set out in our most recent Trading Update.“We are encouraged by strong early Christmas trading in both our UK and Spanish coach businesses, with advanced sales higher than last year.“Overall, we remain on course to deliver our profit, free cash flow and leverage targets for the full year.”
Seven passengers who were involved in a bus crash in Glasgow last month [routeone/2 May/Bad Week] have launched a bid to sue First Bus.Thompson’s solicitors have launched legal action for seven claimants at the moment, but said it expects the number to rise.The incident injured 29 people – including the driver and another First Bus employee.Andrew Jarvis, First Glasgow MD says: “An investigation between Police Scotland and DVSA is now underway to establish the root cause of the accident and we will continue to assist the authorities with any information and help they require.”
New system sees wing mirrors replaced with cameras for greater visibility, safety and securityThere are many benefits to investing in new safety and security technology onboard fleets and in depots, with many of the pros outweighing the cons.The investment in new on-board security and surveillance technology can at times be difficult to justify, but, the advantages of such investments are clear for many.Iain Stringer, Synectics Mobile Divisional Director, explains that latest generation on-board surveillance and security systems can help prevent false claims such as ‘crash for cash’ and driver-passenger disputes.In this age where ‘where’s there blame, there’s a claim’, installing security cameras or taking safety to the next level with systems such as MirrorEye, could make a huge difference.What is MirrorEye?Synectics is a market leader in on-board surveillance, safety and security, the latest innovation to join its safety portfolio is MirrorEye.This system replaces traditional mirrors with two purpose-built digital cameras, and screens are placed inside the vehicle which the driver can see easily. With the optimum positioning of the monitors it means that every driver always has a good view.Synectics is working with partner Orlaco to roll this out and has recently installed the system on an Alexander Dennis (ADL) Enviro400ev which will feature the new technology.“This is something that will demonstrate not only the latest in emission-free technology from ADL, but also the latest generation in safety and security.”While Synectics has been working with ADL, the design of the MirrorEye camera units is universal, making MirrorEye suitable for any type of coach or bus. Only the mountings between the MirrorEye camera units and the body of the bus or coach are vehicle-specific, Orlaco says.Why swap the mirrors?Last year, the Mayor of London was asked how many pedestrians were struck by bus wing mirrors. Transport for London reviewed its data to identify instances where someone had come into contact with a mirror, resulting in injuries.From 2015-2017, 209 pedestrians were struck by bus wing mirrors, and the number of injuries increased year on year until 2018: 2014/15, 14 injuries; 2015/16, 80; 2016/2017, 67; and 2017/18, 48.It’s unknown how these accidents occurred, but it’s clear from the evidence that steps need to be taken to reduce and prevent them from happening again.MirrorEye, Iain says, is more compact than traditional mirrors so reduce the chances of collision with pedestrians and street furniture. They sit just 12cm from the body.Safety firstIain explains that the mirror replacement systems form part of Transport for London’s (TfL) Vision Zero – an initiative that is committed to ending the toll of deaths and injuries seen on roads and transport networks. The goal is that, by 2041, all deaths and serious injuries will be eliminated from London’s transport network.“One of the elements in bus safety is to develop a world-leading safety standard across London’s entire bus fleet, removing exterior mirrors and replacing them with camera systems is a key part of the strategy to deliver this,” Iain says.“As part of TfL’s Bus Safety Roadmap for new build buses, Class II and blind spot camera monitoring systems such as MirrorEye are required to be fitted on all new London buses from 2021.“Given our long association with camera systems for London’s bus fleet, it was a natural progression to start looking seriously at this technology, with ADL leading the way.”The cameras are mounted on the side of the body of the bus. Orlaco says this is a big difference compared to conventional mirrors, which are installed at an angle to the windscreen and protrude significantly.BenefitsThere are clear safety benefits to installing the system, Iain says, but, innovative safety technology like MirrorEye obviously cost more than fitting traditional mirrors.As well as having the aim to reduce injuries, MirrorEye possesses many other safety benefits.Unlike traditional mirrors, the cameras will adjust to light and will provide a detailed image, even when faced with low sun, rain, snow and dust. And Iain says the in-built infra-red capability in the cameras will give much better views in dark conditions compared to conventional mirrors.The cameras will adjust between light and dark conditions in tunnels and are fully-functional in all weather conditions.Key MirrorEye benefits include:Greater field of view and elimination of blind spots (Class II, IV and optional Class V capability)Fully certified by the VCA to meet Regulation 46Removes sun reflections and light glareImproves visibility in wet conditions and enhanced IR capability for dark conditionsReduced fuel consumption from aerodynamic design.MirrorEye’s FutureCurrently, Synectics is working MirrorEye with ADL and it is only available on new-build vehicles.Operators can speak to Synectics or ADL and can be specified as part of the new vehicle build. It’s all done at first build.“We’ve just fitted the MirrorEye system to an ADL E400ev for London which is in build right now. “We’re now looking at future contracts with ADL and interested operators across the UK & Ireland, with more orders on the way for later in the year. Adding recording capability to the MirrorEye system is a high priority for future development, to integrate the camera system with Synectics’ recording systems so it can record the views and help reduce the overall camera count.
The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) will kick off its Electrification of Bus Fleets webinar programme on Tuesday 26 May at 1100hrs with a presentation focusing on electrification at RATP Dev’s Shepherd’s Bus depot in London, which was achieved with support from Alexander Dennis, BYD and SSE Enterprise.Next week’s webinar will be held via Microsoft Teams. It will share the operator’s experience and look at how suppliers overcame the barriers and challenges presented by electrification.Each webinar in the series will also include five-minute pitches from suppliers to highlight the solutions that are available.Viewers will have the opportunity to ask questions and slides will be available afterwards.Registration for the webinar is open to all. It can be done here. Questions or queries about the webinar series should be addressed to LowCVP Project Manager Daniel Hayes via email at [email protected]
Stagecoach Connect, an app-based demand responsive transport (DRT) service will be launched by Stagecoach East Midlands on Monday 18 May. It is for Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust and will serve King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield.An app, powered by ViaVan’s technology platform, allows NHS staff to book a ride up to one week in advance to match their shift schedules.They will select a desired pick-up and drop-off location and be matched with a seat in what Stagecoach says is “a high capacity bus”. Users will be required to show their NHS identity card to prove they are eligible to use the service.The group says it could also be rolled out to serve the NHS in other parts of the UK. Stagecoach is already in discussions with other NHS Trusts, including in Humberside, about introducing similar services.Stagecoach Connect is part of a trial of DRT in Mansfield and Sutton in Ashfield, the group adds. It has been taken from concept to reality in just two weeks as part of Stagecoach’s response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemicThe DRT service will operate during early morning and late evening hours. It acts as an expansion of Stagecoach’s existing fixed-route provision. The focus is on creating access for those NHS staff who are working additional shift patterns.Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths says the group believes that DRT has “huge potential across the NHS and other major organisations that are seeking a better and more sustainable solution to crowded car parks and unnecessary single-use car trips.”Mr Griffiths adds that as movement restrictions are eased, Stagecoach is looking at how DRT can support both the public and the private sectors as they return to work and how it can help communities.In February, Stagecoach launched the Tees Flex DRT. It is operated with a fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibuses on a three-year pilot.ViaVan also provided the technology platform for Tees Flex. CEO Chris Snyder believes that public transport will be “at a crossroads” after the pandemic, and that will offer an opportunity for a new look at how it works in the future.