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In a further boost to Tyneside bus services, Stagecoach North East has announced the introduction of 23 brand new buses to its Newcastle fleet.
The new double deck ADL MMC Enviro 400 buses will operate up to every six minutes as Stagecoach service 39/40, connecting the communities of Dumpling Hall, Chapel House, Fenham, Byker and Wallsend after an investment of £5.2 million.
Stagecoach 11286 SN69 ZPP displayed on Northumberland Street, Newcastle.
The new buses will be used on busy routes 39 & 40, the route that received a fleet of hybrid vehicles way back in 2011. The hybrids are still in service and will now be
cascaded to other Newcastle city routes.
Operating from the company's Walkergate depot, the buses will feature state-of-the-art, Euro 6 engines equipped with Stop-Start technology for improved fuel efficiency and audio-visual next stop announcements with scrolling LED displays. The journey experience is also enhanced by improved seating for customer comfort, free Wi-Fi, USB charging points and contactless payments on-board.
These improvements to the fleet further demonstrate Stagecoach's commitment to investment in an enhanced travel experience for passengers in the north east.
During 2016, £9m was invested in 43 new buses for the company's two Newcastle depots, and a further £3m investment was made earlier this year on 18 Enviro 200 buses in Teesside.
Recent research by KPMG shows that every £1 invested in local bus services generates up to £8 in wider social, economic and environmental benefits.
Gary Chisholm, Engineering Director at Stagecoach North East, said: "Embracing new technology and continually investing in improvements is helping to make life easier for all of our passengers. With increased traffic congestion on our roads, offering a greener way to travel with the inception of Euro 6 technology has never been so important.”
Euro 6 buses emit less NOx than a new Euro 6 diesel car and, as the bus has 15-20 times the carrying capacity of a typical car, just one bus can replace up to 75 car trips. As congestion is costing the UK economy more than £13b a year and bus organisations continue to invest in making buses a better choice, there has never been a better time to make the switch to public transport.
It is said that Newcastle council are working with Stagecoach and the other bus operators in the North East to improve bus priority within the city centre, with the aim of reducing journey times, improving reliability and making buses a better choice.
However they very much worked against bus companies and bus users when they closed a key route through the city centre over the Christmas period - just when passengers needed reliable services to reach the city centre without depending on the car.
Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “Encouraging our residents to swap from their cars to public transport is an important move in helping to tackle climate change in Newcastle. Less cars on our roads means less pollution and reduces Newcastle’s carbon footprint, helping us achieve our ambitious target of being NetZero by 2030.
“I welcome this investment from Stagecoach in more environmentally friendly buses that will not only reduce their emissions but provide a modern, comfortable journey for their passengers.”
The local Stagecoach team will be working with key user group, North East Action on Transport (NEAT), to develop the next stop announcement technology for passengers with visual impairments.
Newcastle Council have an emission target of being NetZero by 2030 and need to convince car users to switch to buses to get them to the heart of the city. They didn't exactly help their cause during the Christmas period when bus services were diverted from Blackett Street where buses from Stagecoach, Go-North East and Arriva were sent on a log jammed diversion route. Passengers voted not to bother, losing valuable customers from the city centre.
This latest investment in the Stagecoach fleet demonstrates commitment to providing a high standard of quality and convenience to bus passengers in Newcastle, hopefully helping to convince car drivers to switch from their cars and travel in by bus. The council needs to encourage a partnership with bus companies, who are willing to invest in the latest technology, thereby reducing pollution.
All other vehicles need to be banned from Blackett Street and at a stroke, pollution would be reduced dramatically. As they say, it's a no brainer!
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This article first appeared on www.focustransport.org
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