Nineteen new buses for Liverpool Airport service

A special display of the last three out of nineteen brand new buses for Arriva North West services 86 and 86A was unveiled at Liverpool John Lennon Airport earlier on this afternoon.

The airport the terminus for the frequent 86A route from the city centre to the airport that runs up to every 10 minutes or better from early to late.

Friday 5th September 2014 was the official launch gathering, with the first vehicles entering traffic in Merseyside slightly before the official launch on the 1st September 2014 in an investment representing the best part of £3.5 million.

The specification of these vehicles is a little step up from the previous operation but not quite to Arriva MAX or Arriva Sapphire standard. The previous allocation on the two routes used Wrightbus Gemini 2 bodied VDL DB300 double decks dating from 2011 and Volvo B7TL’s with Alexander ALX400 double decks dating from 2005.

The 86 and 86A routes form part of Merseytravel’s Quality Bus Network, where timetables are coordinated to provide a frequent daily service, as well as interchangeable tickets between Arriva North West’s 86, 86A and 86D routes and Stagecoach Merseyside & South Lancashire’s 86 service, that operates from Liverpool One Bus Station to Liverpool South Parkway in the south of Liverpool and the 86C route that operates from Liverpool One Bus Station to Liverpool Hope University.

Howard Farrall, area managing director for Arriva Merseyside, said: “Arriva is committed to providing the best possible service for our customers, and we continue to invest in our fleet.The vehicles are nineteen brand new Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 double decks married to Alexander Dennis’ own E40D chassis. They feature a Cummins ISB6.7EV engine coupled up to a 6 speed ZF 6HP1203B gearbox and feature Euro 5 emissions.

Internally they feature 58 Esteban Civic V2 seats, the lower saloon features three tip-up seats and between the two decks some 20 modular seats (over the wheel arches and back seats on both decks) all covered in a navy blue e-leather, LED saloon lighting, free onboard WiFi provided by Icomera as well as all round Hanover Displays LED destination equipment.

“New buses not only make a huge difference to our passengers in terms of comfort and reliability but also have an impressive environmental impact. The 86/86A is an important service which links the Airport to Liverpool and is part of the Quality Bus Network. We are delighted to introduce these 19 new buses to the South Liverpool area.”

Cllr Ron Abbey, Lead Member for Buses on the Merseytravel Committee, said: “We are delighted that Arriva is continuing to support the Quality Bus Network by investing in new buses on the popular 86/86A service.

“This route offers a vital service into the city centre for South Liverpool residents and an important connection to Liverpool John Lennon Airport. The new buses will provide more comfort and reliability for passengers, showing a commitment towards improving facilities on public transport in the Liverpool City Region.”

Robin Tudor, Head of PR for Liverpool John Lennon Airport commented, “We are delighted to see these latest buses being deployed on one of Arriva’s airport services. Access to and from the airport by public transport is an important part of the passenger experience for a large number of our customers and the improved comfort and passenger facilities that these new vehicles bring will make this an, even more, attractive option for passengers in the region.”

This batch of Enviro 400’s follow in sequence from the ones at Arriva Buses Wales’ Rhyl depot for Sapphire service 12, and for our for our enthusiast readers the registrations are as follows, MX14 HSA (4556), MX14 HSC (4557), DK64 BVO (4558), DK64 BVP (4559), DK64 BVR (4560), DK64 BVS (4561), DK64 BVT (4562), DK64 BVU (4563), DK64 BVV (4564), DK64 BVW (4565), DK64 BVX (4566), DK64 BVY (4567), DK64 BVC (4568), DK64 BVD (4569), DK64 BVE (4570), DK64 BVF (4571), DK64 BVG (4572), DK64 BVH (4573) and DK64 BVJ (4574).

I am also pleased to report that I shall also be following the introduction of nine more Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 double decks early next month, they are to the same specification as these vehicles and are to be employed on the 375 and 385 routes from Southport to Skelmersdale or Wigan, so keep an eye out for that.

To conclude, having sampled various examples of the batch earlier on in the afternoon it was very much hit and miss, especially in terms of pulling off from bus stops. The specified e-Leather seating is quite comfortable for the average journey from the city centre to the airport, however, in my opinion, I don’t think they’re as comfortable as seating covered with moquette. The free and as of yet unadvertised free WiFi onboard worked perfectly – however I did notice that our photograph host Google Picasa has been blocked in an attempt to stop people hogging the bandwidth with the likes of Google’s YouTube.

Tom Harrison

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