Arriva MAX arrives in Rhyl and Denbigh

Arriva MAX arrives in Rhyl and Denbigh
An Arriva MAX branded VDL SB200/Wrightbus Pulsar is pictured in Denbigh.Tom Harrison

Arriva Buses Wales launched their MAX brand in Rhyl and Denbigh on the 51 and 51S route earlier this month, using refurbished buses and specially trained drivers, MAX includes complimentary Wi-Fi, comfortable leather-style seats, a ‘no-quibble’ money-back guarantee and the latest in journey planning technology for customers.

MAX has been specifically crafted for their new inter-urban express brand of services, which provide quicker connections on key selected inter-urban express routes that offer customers all the benefits of their Sapphire-esque “MAX pack”. MAX has a similar set up to the Sapphire model, as used on route 1 between Wrexham and Chester and route 12 from Rhyl to Llandudno, albeit without the audio-visual displays and on-board power sockets and USB charging points.

The brand was first launched in the North East in Newcastle on 1 September 2014, offering quick links to Newcastle from Blyth on routes X10 and X11. Arriva Yorkshire later embraced the MAX brand at an event in Bradford, this time on their 268 route, which offer quick links from Bradford to Dewsbury. Arriva The Shires benefited from late last year, offering quick links to Aylesbury from Milton Keynes on routes 60 and X60.

The MAX concept is the latest stage in a programme of enhancements that have already seen timetable and punctuality improvements introduced on the routes to deliver high levels of service reliability. Like Sapphire, MAX also 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 from the driver if you’re not entirely satisfied with the service.

The 51 service operates from Rhyl Bus Station serving Rhuddlan, Bodelwyddan and Hafod-y-Green before terminating at the Lenten Pool terminus in Denbigh. A school variant numbered 51S operates on school days serving Tyn Yr Eithin in the morning and afternoon journeys in addition to the regular route. The early morning weekdays and Saturday frequency is every 30 minutes upping to a 20-minute frequency at peak times and reducing to hourly in the evening, with an hourly service provided on Sundays.

The buses on the 51 and 51S routes are seven-year-old Wright Pulsar bodied VDL SB200 saloons which were already being used on the 51/51S but have been upgraded for the launch by Arriva North West’s Paint Shop and Repair Centre in St Helens. The work included a complete repaint, new handrails, and upgrading of the Esteban Civic seats from V2 to V3 standard with new backs and new headrests. All of the seats are trimmed in an attractive two-tone blue E-leather with MAX branding stylishly embroidered in the headrests.

The registrations of the refurbished vehicles are as follows, CX07 CTY (2649), CX07 CTZ (2650), CX07 CUA (2651), CX07 CUC (2652), CX07 CUG (2653), CX07 CUH (2654) and lastly CX07 CUJ (2655).

MAX is being introduced alongside further upgrades throughout the country, primarily based on the positive customer reception given to Arriva’s premium Sapphire service, where there has been 10% growth despite quite different demographics, both brands are expected to quickly generate strong passenger growth.

These improvements follow on from Arriva Buses Wales’ largest investment in new buses in North Wales since deregulation in 1986 last year. That saw the launch of 15 high specification single deck buses for the southern-most of the Cymru Coastliner services, the 5/X5/5C between Llandudno and Caernarfon, marking a £2.5 million investment, coming complete with Cymru Coastliner embroidered e-leather seats and Hanover Displays audio-visual “talking buses” technology onboard.

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Tom Harrison
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