A number of initiatives to encourage bus travel were carried out by operators across the country during this year’s Catch the Bus Week (4 to 10 July). One example involved Stagecoach, Arriva and Connect Tees Valley, who joined forces to encourage Tees Valley commuters to leave the car at home and try the bus. Stagecoach North East and Arriva toured locations across the Tees Valley and gave away ‘Pop Pay As You Go’ smartcards pre-loaded with £15 for members of the public to use on buses across the region.
As part of Arriva’s Catch the Bus Week campaign, it had staff on hand in Newcastle to engage with the public and explain the benefits of bus travel. They were also inviting people onto its buses to take photos and selfies with Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell celebrity lookalikes. There was also chance for people to enter a competition to win a prize.
During Catch the Bus Week, First York celebrated the fact it has had over 1m passenger journeys on its electric buses with York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. Six new Optare Versa Electric Vehicles (EVs) were introduced in June 2014 on service 59 between York and the new Poppleton Park and Ride site, with a further six EVs introduced on the Monks Cross Park and Ride in May last year.
First South Yorkshire launched six new Wrightbus StreetLites in Rotherham to coincide with the campaign. Representing an investment of £1m, they feature E-leather seats and Euro6 microhybrid technology. The new Rotherham buses form part of a 2016 vehicle investment programme of over £5m across South Yorkshire supporting the Bus Partnerships with local councils, the Passenger Transport Executive and other operators. This announcement follows a £3m investment in Doncaster earlier this year. A £1m investment in Sheffield is due later this year.
Lothian Buses was offering the chance for passengers to win a year’s free bus travel. To win, passengers had to send photos of their travel to the operator via its social media pages.
Warburtons employees were invited to enjoy a free day’s travel on Transdev buses on Catch the Bus Week. A team from the operator visited Warburtons’ Burnley bakery to help explain the health benefits of taking the bus instead of driving. They gave away vouchers, which could be exchanged for a free ‘Daytripper’ ticket, giving unlimited travel for a day on Transdev buses; not just in and around Burnley but across Lancashire and Yorkshire. The event at the bakery was part of a series of roadshows being staged across the north by the operator during the week.
It was not just operators taking part in the initiative. Transport Minister, Andrew Jones MP, joined with representatives from Stagecoach, Go-Ahead, Arriva, First and Greener Journeys to show his support for Catch the Bus Week. He received a bus driving lesson from instructor, Theo Farmer, who put him through his paces at a bus depot in Brixton.
Andrew Jones said, ‘Good bus services help people get around and get on. Bus services do the hard yards delivering more than 4.5bn passengers to their destination each year, which is more than any other form of public transport. Catch the Bus Week is an excellent initiative and I really enjoyed having a go at driving a bus. Buses are clearly built with the driver in mind, providing great visibility, automatic gearbox and cameras on the dashboard. Drivers do an impressive job handling the information from the cameras, from customers and using their local roads knowledge.’
Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South, Iain Stewart, partnered with Arriva to promote Catch the Bus Week by hosting his weekly constituency surgery on board one of the operator’s town services last week.
During Catch the Bus Week, Arriva showed how it has used £6m of investment to improve its Leicestershire fleet. The operation hosted an event at Leicester’s National Space Centre where it revealed to local dignitaries, councillors and businesses its 35 new high specification buses that are to be deployed in the coming month. The vehicles feature E-Leather seating and USB charging points.
Area MD for Arriva Midlands East, Simon Mathieson, said, ‘This investment into improving our network has not only included our new vehicles, but has also addressed 32 of our older buses based at our Thurmaston depot, through a joint project undertaken in conjunction with Leicester City Council, and funded by a DfT grant worth £583,520. This scheme will see the addition of nitrogen dioxide emissions abatement equipment to our existing fleet, in an innovative trial which will monitor air quality improvements on key corridors over the course of the next five years.’
Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, Claire Haigh, said, ‘It was great to see the Minister at this morning’s event, showing his support for buses. Buses play a vital role in our society, boosting the economy, linking people to jobs and training, and protecting society’s most vulnerable people from isolation. We have seen tremendous support for this week’s Catch the Bus Week and we look forward to many more people celebrating the bus up and down the country.’