Thursday, 31 August 2023

Stow-on-the-Wold Vintage Bus Rally 2023

Ken Jones visited Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire to attend the 2023 Vintage Bus Rally which was held at Stow Rugby Club. Below is a selection of Ken's photos taken on the day.

Many thanks to Ken for his contribution. If you visit a transport event during 2023 please feel free to send photos to

Wednesday, 30 August 2023

The £2 Fare Scheme in Cumbria

The £2 scheme, which came into force at the start of the year, has been a great success, especially in tourist areas such as the Lake District ....

The open top Stagecoach service to Seatoller picks up passengers at Keswick bus station as another service awaits its place in the queue.

The £2 fare had been set to end by 30 June, but the government says it will now run for longer, into October. It will then be extended at £2.50 until November next year.

The government says that capping fares at £2.50 until November 2024 "will create longer-term certainty for bus users over the next year" - adding that it will be reviewed ahead of the cut-off. During the pandemic, bus usage dropped as low as 10% of pre-pandemic levels and, while passenger levels have recovered to around 85 to 90%, the fare cap aims to encourage people back on the bus, which can help reduce congestion and emissions.

The Lake District services run by Stagecoach have proved very popular with tourists and locals, as the routes take passengers along lengthy routes in the stunning countryside.

The 555 route allows travel between Lancaster, Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere and Keswick, a journey of over 50 miles, all for £2.

Stagecoach have recently introduced a new fleet of high specification ADL Enviro400's to serve the route, giving passengers comfort and facilities during their journey.

Click here to see the excellent Stagecoach Lake District  publicity which is also freely available in a printed version

If you've discovered a favourite journey by bus that offers good value for the £2 fare, email with details (plus photos if possible) for publication on a future posting.

Tuesday, 29 August 2023

Transport for London Statement on Air Quality & New Electric Buses for Sutton

TfL is delivering a further boost to its already leading zero emission bus fleet, with more than 80 zero emission buses introduced in the south London borough of Sutton to improve air quality.

On Wednesday 23 August) speaking from the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, Deputy Mayor for Transport, Seb Dance, announced that more than 80 new zero emission electric buses have taken to the streets of Sutton this summer, bringing the total operating in the area to nearly 100. 
TfL has introduced the new buses in the borough on routes 93, 154, 164, 213 and 80, joining the zero emission buses already operating on Route 413.

This significant addition to Sutton’s fleet means that over half of the journeys undertaken by bus in Sutton will be in a zero emission bus, with more zero emission buses set to join the borough’s fleet in spring next year. 
The borough is also set to benefit from improvements to bus services, providing new or better connections across the borough and between town centres and hospitals, adding over 400,000 bus kilometres to the area’s network.

The introduction of the new buses follows the recent milestone of more than 1,000 zero emission buses operating across the capital, now taking the total to over 1,100 zero emission buses and putting TfL on track to transition to a fully zero emission bus fleet by 2034, a target which could be achieved by 2030 with continued Government investment. 
TfL will save an estimated 4.8m tonnes of carbon by 2034 or an estimated 5.5m tonnes of carbon by 2030 with Government funding.

Since January this year up to and including August, enhancements across bus routes such as B14, 141, 485, N15, N123, N158, N486, X26 (now SL7), 95 and E5 are adding one million kilometres of service per year to the outer London bus network.

The Superloop is a key part of the Mayor’s £6m investment to improve the bus network in outer London. The Superloop is a proposed network of limited-stop express bus routes that circle the entire capital, connecting transport links, town centres and hospitals, and could add over 4 million bus kilometres operated in outer London. 

On 19 August, route X26, which runs between West Croydon bus station and Heathrow Central Bus Station, was renumbered and rebranded to route SL7, to offer customers an instantly recognisable express bus service between west and south London, and has now doubled in frequency, from a bus every 30 minutes to one bus every 15 minutes The SL7 is the third bus route to become part of the Superloop express bus network.

Toxic air is one of the greatest health threats in the capital with around 4,000 Londoners dying prematurely every year as a result of air pollution. London’s poor air quality is leading to children growing up with stunted lungs and people across London developing lung cancer, heart disease, and many other illnesses. 
Outdoor air pollution causes around one in 10 of all lung cancer cases. The particles in air pollution can build up in the lungs and damage the DNA in lung cells, which can lead to cancer. Cleaner air will help reduce this risk.

Since 2021, all new buses joining TfL’s contracted fleet have been zero emission, helping TfL become the green heartbeat of the capital, and playing an important role in removing harmful emissions from London’s air. All of TfL’s other buses are low emission and meet or exceed Euro VI emission standards, the same emissions standard as the Ultra Low Emission Zone.

Sutton’s new zero emission buses will be equipped with a range of new features. Passengers will benefit from larger wheelchair and buggy areas, panoramic roofing on the upper deck, USB phone charging ports and new LED display screens on the lower and upper deck. 
As well as the new buses, from early next year Sutton will see extensions to existing routes and the creation of a brand new service, S2. These updates to the borough’s bus network part of the additional 400,000km per annum of bus services in Sutton.

Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor for Transport said: "Growing London’s zero-emission bus fleet, which is now the largest in Europe, is an important part of the Mayor’s commitment to reduce toxic air and respond to the climate crisis. 
The Mayor promised Londoners that he would improve transport links in outer London. These new zero-emission buses, improvements and service increases will not only help Londoners get around our city, but improve air quality as we continue building better, greener, fairer London for everyone."

David Cutts, Go-Ahead London's Managing Director said: "The Sutton area joins a growing list of services to benefit from brand new electric buses, which are popular with users and showcase sustainable public transport. Sutton Garage is 100 years old in early 2024 but we continue to look to the future, embracing zero-emission vehicles that improve local air quality."

Professor Kristian Helin, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: "We know air pollution is bad for our health, and indeed contains cancer-causing chemicals, as ICR scientists were among the first to recognise. 
We therefore welcome TfL's efforts to reduce air pollution – and carbon emissions – through greater use of electric buses in Sutton. It's good to see this progress in improving public transport in Sutton, which is urgently needed to service the growing needs of The London Cancer Hub on our Sutton site."

Tim Dexter, Clean Air Lead, Asthma + Lung UK, said: “We welcome TfL’s launch of over 80 new zero emission buses in Sutton, because cleaning up of Sutton's bus fleet, and moving away from petrol and diesel cars towards cleaner forms of transport like walking, cycling and public transport is critical to cleaning up the air we breathe. Air pollution is a public health emergency that impacts us all, and even more so for the estimated 585,000 people with a lung condition living in London. Every year toxic air shortens the lives of 4,000 people in London alone."

A new route, S2, will be created, running between Epsom and St Helier via the town centre, resulting in more frequent buses between Sutton and Epsom, and a Sunday service for the first time. 
Ahead of these improvements, more than 30 bus shelters have been updated in the borough, offering more comfortable seating, better weather protection and LED lighting. Additional countdown signs providing real time information have also been installed at some bus stops.

Monday, 28 August 2023

1938 Tube Stock Running Excursions Between Amersham & Watford in September

During September, London Transport Museum are running another series of trips on their 1938 Metro-Cammell preserved Tube Train.

Passengers will be transported to a bygone era on a beautifully restored 1938 Art Deco-style vintage train.

The train is made up of four cars complete with green and red moquette seating, grab handles and distinctive Art Deco light fittings.

The 1938 Stock was the first kind of Tube train to have all of the electrical equipment underneath the floor, combining the latest technology of the era with quintessential late 1930s style. These trains served London, on several deep-level Tube lines, for half a century.

Having the electrical equipment underneath the floor allowed greater numbers of passengers to be carried in each car. The last 38-stock retired from service in 1988, six weeks short of 50 years service.

This is one of four cars that form a fully operational 1938-Tube stock unit, which occasionally runs on heritage outings.

Sunday, 27 August 2023

Go2Gate Minibus Service Exclusively for Dedworth Passengers to Heathrow Terminal 5

Thames Valley Buses, a subsidiary of Reading Buses, commenced operation of the Go2Gate demand responsive transport (DRT) service to Heathrow on 19 August. 

The service operates from the  Dedworth area of Windsor and will carry passengers between there and Terminal 5 at the airport.

Two new EVM Cityline low-entry minibuses based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter have been delivered for the service. They have leather seats and air-conditioning and continue EVM’s success in supplying minibuses for DRT applications. Padam Mobility is providing the technology behind the service.

Thames Valley Buses General Manager Simon Fisher explains that what is now the Go2Gate service was tendered by Heathrow Airport, which gave the option of submitting a bid for a fixed route and timetable. The travel hub instead opted for a flexible approach.

“We are hoping for at least 20,000 journeys in the first year and there has been a lot of interest in the service,” says Mr Fisher. “Go2Gate is a minibus exclusive to the Dedworth area that is more like a personal taxi. Although many people will travel only occasionally, we hope that people working at the airport will see this as a real benefit.”

In accordance with airport demands, operating hours are 0300-2330hrs daily. For the first week of operation, all journeys are free of charge upon entry of a discount code into the Go2Gate app. After that, single trips will be £5, with discounts for groups and for airport employees, who will pay £2. ENCTS passholders receive free travel off-peak.

Thames Valley Buses says that most people in Dedworth “will be less than a two-minute walk away from a pick-up point” for the new service, which can be booked as long as 28 days in advance or up to 20 minutes before travel.

Saturday, 26 August 2023

First Bus ‘Switch On’ New All-Electric Fleet in York

First Bus together with City of York Council has switched on’ a new fleet of zero emission buses for York in a transformation that will see its depot become one of the first outside London to be fully electric.

The buses herald a new York Electric branding with the first vehicles operating from Sunday 27 August on the Service 4 route from the city centre to Acomb.

Electric buses will then gradually be introduced on to selected corridors in the coming weeks with services 1 and 5 expected to follow soon.

First North  West Yorkshire directors switch on York Electric fleet with Councillor Claire Douglas, Leader of City of York Council (right)

The full order of 53 Wright StreetDeck Electroliner double-deckers and the single-decker GB Kite Electroliner are manufactured by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland with features including audio visual next stop technology, USB charging points and Wi-Fi connectivity. 

The fleet represents a total investment by First Bus of £13m supported with £10.2m funding secured by City of York Council from the Government’s Zebra scheme.

Each bus will save up to 60 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, meaning an anticipated annual reduction of more than 3,000 tonnes of CO2 when the full fleet is in operation.

Andrew Cullen, Managing Director of First Bus in North & West Yorkshire, said: “An even greener transport revolution beckons in York and we are leading this change.

“We’re proud to unveil these latest zero emission buses and are confident they will appeal to our customers and attract more people to consider bus travel by realising the real impact this has in reducing congestion, creating cleaner air and supporting the York economy.”

He added: “It is real evidence of our continuing successful partnership with City of York Council in bringing major improvements to bus services and supporting a shared ambition for a net-zero transport system and reducing carbon emissions in the city.”

The buses can carry around 90 passengers and have a range of up to 200 miles on full charge.

Councillor Claire Douglas, Leader of City of York Council, said: “Bringing this new technology to York is an exciting, important step towards a healthier city and reaching our key goal of being net zero by 2030. 
As the York fleet gradually becomes fully electric, I hope it will attract more and more people to using buses as we deliver a vision for cleaner, more efficient ways of getting around our city.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in helping York lead the way by delivering this electric fleet and combined with investments and improvements via York’s Bus Service Improvement Plan, showing our commitment to providing more frequent and affordable bus networks.”

As part of the overall investment, the First Bus depot is currently being transformed with the installation of power charging and infrastructure to handle the full zero emission fleet, which will total 86 buses.

Friday, 25 August 2023

Avanti West Coast Launches Interactive Rail Map to Track Trains On The Move

Avanti West Coast has launched an interactive live rail map online to help customers track trains in real-time.

Collaborating with rail tech innovator, 'Signalbox', Avanti West Coast has introduced a map feature on its website as part of a trial that offers customers an easy way to view trains in real-time on their smartphone, tablet, or computer. 
The technology is designed to improve journeys by letting passengers access more detailed information on the West Coast services, but also allows the tracking of other trains on UK routes.

This screen capture shows the progress of an  Edinburgh to London 
Avanti West Coast service

Building on Signalbox’s existing technology - which detects, tracks, and maps trains anywhere in Great Britain - it provides an interactive tool that’s customised for passengers using the West Coast Main Line. 
Users can follow the progress of services they’re travelling on or check the status of trains near their chosen station to view information most relevant to their journey.

The map uses live data enhanced by location to enable customers to view and track local train movements, check the performance of rail services, or tap a specific train to see its calling points and status updates.

The live train map displays information in a visually engaging way – using a geographical map with icons depicting each passenger train travelling on the rail network. The icons use chevrons to indicate the direction of travel and colours illustrate the status of train’s journey.

Tapping the icon allows users to see further detail of the train’s journey – outlining the platform number and arrival times at each of its planned calling points.

The technology, which is currently being trialled, was chosen as an innovative solution following a suggestion from the station team at Carlisle that customers would benefit with a visual guide of their train’s location. After a pilot scheme on digital screens at Carlisle station, the launch of the map online aims to give more customers across the network access to the tool.

This screen capture shows the progress of a Thameslink Cambridge to Brighton service

A tailored version of the map can be used to view updates about a specific train – whether someone is keen to keep track of the arrival time of a friend, relative or colleague at their destination or a customer wants to know exactly where they are during their journey, so they can share their location. This makes it simpler to plan and manage journeys, as well as providing reassurance when travelling.

While customers already have the option to monitor the progress of their journey through functionalities, such as Live Train Status, Journey Check, and planned engineering work, which enable them to find their train’s status, check if a route is impacted by disruption, and be aware of planned engineering work on their chosen travel date, the map offers a visual alternative.

Progress of a Gatwick Airport to Reading service is shown on the site

Avanti West Coast and Signalbox are also working to make more of the content accessible for assistive technologies, including screen readers. A toggle button to further change the colour contrast of the map will also be made available to support low-vision users.

If the trial is successful, the technology could be rolled out across other Avanti West Coast digital channels.

Customers who wish to track trains on their own device can visit:

Signalbox CEO, Toby Webb, said: “It’s been great to work with Avanti West Coast to deliver a new application that incorporates the best bits of our technology to detect, map, and share trains.

“The innovation we’ve created for the trial is a new simple way for passengers to access real-time information that’s personalised for their journey. We hope this approach to delivering live data directly to travellers on the move improves the passenger experience across the network.”

David Franklin, Innovation Strategy Manager at Avanti West Coast, said: “We know how important it is to our customers to have clear and live information when travelling with us. We’re always looking to find new and better ways of doing things and are delighted to innovate with Signalbox to trial this technology.

“By providing our customers with a good visual to locate their train, we hope they’ll feel more reassured, as well as have greater confidence when travelling with access to information specific to their journey at the touch of a finger.”

Customers can share their feedback by selecting the ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ icons above the map on the Live Train Status webpage.

Thursday, 24 August 2023

McGill’s Bus Group Launch New-Look CitySwift Service As Part Of The Transformation Of Midland Bluebird Company

McGill’s Bus Group has launched a new-look CitySwift service as part of the transformation of its Midland Bluebird company across Stirling, Falkirk and the Forth Valley.

The new look X36/X37, now known as CitySwift, linking Stirling and Falkirk to Glasgow went onto service on Friday (18 August). A dedicated fleet of buses have been transformed, inside and out, with striking new branding, seats set around tables and free USB charging ports. 

Some minor timetable changes have also been made to improve timekeeping. This latest improvement is the next step in the transformation at Midland Bluebird, which was acquired from FirstGroup less than 12 months ago.

McGill’s Group owners Sandy and James Easdale invested over £100,000 in this transformation, which will give passengers better, brighter buses offering quicker and comfier journeys. 
This is further to the ongoing fleet replacement programme which has seen 150 newer buses enter service during the last year, meaning better reliability and growth in numbers of people taking the bus.

A launch event took place at the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre on 16 August, with colleagues from local authorities, politicians and other partners in attendance - all invited to preview the new buses and discuss future plans for the business. 
It was a huge success which was followed by visits to Stirling and Falkirk centres to give members of the public chance to see the new buses, get timetables and pick up some freebies and cupcakes.

Alex Hornby, Group Managing Director of McGill’s Bus Group, said: “This is the latest investment for Midland Bluebird as we continue to transform the company and improve local bus services for our customers, all with the aim of growing demand and making bus the mode of choice.

“We have invested heavily in revitalising our fleet and quality of product, and the new CitySwift signals our intent for the quality of services customers should expect, with modern on-board features that create more pleasurable journeys.

“We were delighted to have the support of local councillors, MSPs and MPS for our current and future plans and we were pleased that these improvements were well received. The most important people, our customers, were also impressed with our ongoing work to improve the Midland Bluebird network and we are really excited at ushering in further growth as the hard work of our team continues to pay off.”

Wednesday, 23 August 2023

Massive Solar Powered Car Charging Site at Leeds Park & Ride

In an effort to encourage car drivers to use public transport to travel into Leeds city centre, Leeds City Council has required an innovative renewable energy system to improve Yorkshire’s local electric vehicle charging network and provide better connectivity while reducing carbon emissions in the city. 

To achieve this, Evo Energy has made full use of their technology range to install 1.2MWp of Solar Car Ports, Smart HV/LV infrastructure, Battery Energy Storage and an Electric Vehicle charging facility.

Stourton Park and Ride site

Situated on the outskirts of Leeds, Stourton Park and Ride was developed by Leeds City Council to introduce integrated renewable energy technology into the city, which has become the first fully solar powered park and ride in the country.

This project is an example of how to push the boundaries on every front with solar PV, curved carport frames, behind the meter batteries and future proofed EV charging points combining to solve a problem on a 400kW grid constrained site connection. 
The project consists of a multiple Y shaped solar carports, which are placed, in curved rows to cater for the circular design of the park and ride site. This layout means that the edge of each solar carport had to be placed extremely close together to maintain the bend around the site, which therefore, required an extra level of skill from the technical design team.

The solar carports with trapezoid steel roofs, add strength, with an integrated gutter system to enable rooftop access for panel maintenance. The trapezoid steel roof supports any engineers maintaining the panels and gives a clean finish for users looking up from underneath.

The carport frames are installed in concentric semi circles with east-west orientation to split generation curves and maximise the opportunity for onsite consumption.

In addition to this, a 500kW/ 950kWh Tesla battery has been integrated into the main building to maximize onsite consumption of the solar PV and help alleviate some of the peaks caused by simultaneous EV charging events.

The facility boasts a solar generational capability of 1.2MWp, along with top of the range EV chargers to support the upcoming transition to electric vehicles. There are two dedicated EV charging bays solely for users with additional needs with no kerb around the charging points, highlighting LCC’s commitment to inclusivity.

 Solaredge inverters are centrally located in the terminus building, utilising “safe DC” distribution at 850V, cable runs, in smaller cables to minimise material wastage. This meant no inverters around the carport structures leading to a cleaner finish for drivers and more efficient electrical distribution.

To decrease the £/kWp price of the solar carports, highly efficient Sunpower Maxeon 400Wp panels were used, maximising the carport’s roof generation capacity. 
The panels will yield more kWh/ per year from the first year, and will degrade slower than other panels meaning more is generated over the system’s lifetime.

The Results

As a result of this project, Leeds City Council has a modern renewable energy system with the potential for future expansion.

The PV system is estimated to generate 852,000 kWh/ yr, only 12% of which is estimated to be exported, because of the battery and solar interaction. Overall, the Solar PV will offset 471 tonnes of carbon in year 1 which is the equivalent of removing 203 cars from the roads.

Due to import site restrictions, currently the battery load shifts the solar PV and takes grid import for the site to zero most of the time. In the future, Evo Energy have modelled several battery scenarios, e.g. peak shaving, grid services, time of use energy shifting, depending on future grid conditions. Any of these are possible with the Tesla’s highly flexible Site Master Controller.

 The EV charging point system can be peak limited to enable more EV charging points to be connected without exceeding the limited 400kW peak site import capacity. The peak limiting affects the 7kW chargers first, then the 50kW chargers, to prevent unfairly penalising customers who have paid a premium for the increased charging rate.

Interactive monitoring of the BESS, solar PV and EV charging has been integrated into the terminus building so that members of the public can see the historic and real time impact the systems are having on the facility.

Up to 1200 cars per day will be removed from Leeds’ roads, supported by the new Park and Ride electric bus service. This is the first in a network of electric, solar enabled park and ride sites.

A bus travelling through Leeds city centre, heading to the Stourton Park & Ride

Ultimately, the £38.5m project provides the site with a reliable source of renewable energy and high quality EV charging facilities. The project is a key part of Leeds City Council’s strategy to hit zero carbon by 2030 and will improve Leeds air quality for residents and visitors.

The system will reduce carbon emissions for many years to come, which is critical in helping the region to achieve their carbon neutral status by 2030 and supports UK road user’s transition to clean energy.

Evo Energy will retain a full O&M contract for the next 5 years to ensure that it meets continues to perform at optimum levels.

Stourton Park and Ride is now the UK’s leading infrastructure site that demonstrates some of the grid’s limitations and the essential need for smart energy solutions, whilst also providing a snapshot of the UK’s energy future.

“The exciting development of Stourton Park and Ride builds on the obvious benefits of people switching to public transport use to reduce their impact on the environment. 
Solar panels and an innovative battery storage system, paid for with European Regional Development Funding, will provide energy for the whole Park & Ride site, which will be served by electric buses.” – Cllr Lisa Mulherin, Executive Board Member, Leeds City Council

Watch the video here

Tuesday, 22 August 2023

Invitation to Tender For The Supply of Public Service Vehicles for Rotala Plc

Rotala has issued the following announcement 

Rotala was formed in 2005 and has grown through the acquisition and amalgamation of local coach and bus operations and is now one of the largest operators in its chosen geographical locations.

Our bus operations companies provide local bus services under contract to local authorities and commercial bus routes, which are undertaken by various depots throughout the United Kingdom.

Rotala is committed to providing service excellence by offering value for money and continuous improvement without compromising on the quality.

It is anticipated Rotala Plc will have a requirement for approximately 50 vehicles per year from this year onwards, to fulfil our vehicle investment programme across all operating subsidiaries and to meet the desires of the National Bus Strategy and local bus service improvement plans.

Rotala is pleased to open up a new tender opportunity for the procurement of up to 10 minibus size vehicles. In order to inform our decision making, we are requesting quotes for both diesel and electric traction. Bidders may chose to submit prices for either option.

Expressions of interest should be registered before 1st September 2023 by email to