Arriva Buses Wales is once again bringing their new concept in bus travel to the people of the North West and in North Wales, as the Chester and Connah’s Quay service sees the introduction of their high quality Sapphire brand.
The service upgrade comes complete with attractive onboard facilities, including free WiFi, spacious legroom with e-leather covered seating as well as 240v and USB charging points and audio-visual displays.
The Sapphire concept is based on what Arriva’s customers told them in extensive research, with the main appeal of attracting first-time users and reluctant bus users out of their cars and on public transport. Taking to the road on Sunday the 15th March 2015, the eye-catching buses are recognisable by their striking two-tone blue ‘Sapphire’ livery that is complemented by new features to make travelling by bus more fun and enjoyable.
Interestingly, the 10 service has been extended to run from Chester Railway Station to Connah’s Quay (previously only to Chester Bus Exchange) with the frequency remaining at every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime. Arriva Buses Wales have also introduced an additional route with the service upgrade, new half-hourly route 10A operates from Chester Railway Station to Holywell via Connah’s Quay.
A complete journey on the 10 service from Chester Bus Exchange to Wepre Quay Shopping Centre takes around 50 minutes in the daytime, travelling around the area with a Deeside Day Saver ticket is easy, costing just £4.50 for unlimited travel in the Deeside area which is valid all the way to Holywell in the west and Hooton Cross Roads in the east of the ticket zone. A great value 10-for-10 weekly ticket is also available for both services.
In an investment of £2 million, Arriva will be introducing nine brand new highly specified Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s double decks married to Alexander Dennis’ own Enviro 40D chassis. The vehicles are powered by the Cummins ISB6.7EV engine and feature a six-speed ZF 6HP1203B transmission delivering Euro V emissions.
The high-specification service is certainly a step up from the previous operation, which used standard Arriva V-plate Dennis Dart SLF single decks new to Arriva Cymru back in 2000, and latterly the service used 07-plate Wrightbus Cadet bodied VDL SB120 single decks that were new for the Chester Citybus and later to be Blacon Pointer 1, 1A and 15 services that operate from the Bus Exchange to Blacon and Saughall in 2007.
Part of the philosophy behind Sapphire is to try different approaches in different locations to try and quantify the results that different levels of specification produce. In the lower saloon, they feature Sapphire branded e-leather covered Esteban Civic V3 seats, with the upper saloon seeing a more luxurious and spacious 2+1 layout with coach style seating. Unlike other Sapphire specifications, the traditional mural situated behind the drivers’ cabin depicting of a local landmark or building of interest hasn’t been specified in this case, LED saloon lighting and of course CCTV is specified throughout for added security.
State of the art “talking buses” technology has also been specified on board, which comprises of information screens and speakers that deliver automated next stop announcements produced by Hanover Displays, who also produce Arriva’s destination display equipment, it is an impressive innovation and offers passengers a clear and concise reminder of where they are on the route.
The high-specification interiors are certainly a talking point, Icomera’s Moovbox WiFi equipment is also fitted, as seen on an increasing number of the fleet, where passengers can connect their smartphone, tablet or laptop to connect to the internet, though it’s given the Sapphire touch with its own landing page and one-time registration page. Passengers are only required to register their device once then their device is recognised on future trips.
As well as the new features, Sapphire offers passengers a ‘no quibble’ money back guarantee centred around a customer charter which sets Arriva’s commitments on things like reliability, punctuality, frequency and cleanliness and guarantees your money back if you’re not entirely satisfied with the service.
For our enthusiast readers the registrations of the nine brand new Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s are as follows, CX15 BXN (4637) CX15 BXO (4638), CX15 BXP (4539), CX15 BXR (4640), CX15 BSX (4641), CX15 BXU (4642), CX15 BXV (4643), CX15 BXW (4644) and CX15 BXY (4645).
Arriva’s Sapphire brand was first launched in Wrexham back in 2013, and from reports by Arriva, it has been a huge success, with several other launches of the brand implemented around the country. We’ve featured a few launches too, with the introduction of the service in Bolton, Chorley and Wigan as well as in Llandudno and Rhyl in North Wales, not to mention the introduction of Arriva’s other high-quality brand Arriva MAX which was introduced in Rhyl and Denbigh back in January.
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