Arriva UK Bus is launching a new premium service, Sapphire, aimed at reinvigorating bus usage on key routes in four locations across the UK.
Arriva has invested more than £3million as it looks to the premium service to grow passenger numbers on core routes. Sapphire has been designed to primarily attract non-users but also increase the number of journeys taken by infrequent and semi-frequent users.
The new concept was developed following extensive customer research including surveys, site visits and focus groups. The research highlighted a number of core customer requirements and the opportunity to improve perceptions of the bus, change the behaviour of non-users and encourage existing users to make more journeys.
Arriva has used this insight to create the new Sapphire service, which aims to fulfil the following core requirements:
- A punctual, reliable, frequent and direct service
- Well-presented, customer focused drivers with additional service delivery training
- An enhanced feeling of personal safety, space and comfort
- A customer charter with a no-quibble money back guarantee.
Mark Yexley, Operations and Commercial Director for Arriva UK Bus, commented:
“We felt the time was right to introduce the Sapphire brand. It will certainly offer our customers something different and we hope will tempt more people to try the bus as a result.The first Sapphire service to launch will be in the North West in April (Chester to Wrexham), followed by launches in three additional regions; Midlands (Oadby to Leicester), Shires & Essex (Aylesbury to Oxford), and the North East (Darlington to Durham). Phil Cummins, Engineering Director for Arriva North West and Wales, was instrumental in arranging the prototype design and layout for the new and refurbished vehicles. He commented:
“We’ve deliberately selected key routes on our network that offer a potentially longer journey time, so that customers have more time to take advantage of the free WiFi, or to simply enjoy sitting on comfy leather seats!
“The investment is significant at a time when there are plenty of economic challenges out there, although we firmly believe in continuing to try and improve our service offering whenever and wherever we can.”
“We’re really happy with the final outcome. The refurbished buses have given already good vehicles a new lease of life and the quality of the materials is excellent.”The key features of Sapphire include:
- A revised livery to signal the change to the customer. The livery has been designed to ensure it replicates the Sapphire proposition
- High back e-leather seats with thicker seat bases to offer comfort and additional space
- Free WiFi and power points to add value, create the feeling of modernity and meet customer demand
- In addition, some vehicles will have audio visual announcements via digital display screens
- Dedicated drivers with customer care training
- CCTV for added security
- Customer charter – Arriva’s commitment to its customers:
- Frequent service (at least every 15 minutes)
- Easy to understand (direct routes)
- Extra standards of cleanliness
- Money back guarantee
The first Sapphire buses will be delivered in April 2013 in the North West. They will then be rolled out to three other routes, ensuring that there is a Sapphire route in each of Arriva UK Bus’ regional businesses.
Routes and vehicles:
- Route 1 Wrexham to Chester (Spring 2013):
9 refurbished Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 double deckers
- Route 31/31A Oadby to Leicester (Summer 2013):
10 refurbished Wrightbus Gemini double deckers
- Route 280 Aylesbury to Oxford (Summer 2013):
11 refurbished Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 double deckers
- Route 7 Darlington to Durham (Autumn 2013):
11 new Wrighbus Pulsar SB200 single deckers
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