Arriva North West has expanded its high-quality ‘Sapphire’ operation in the North West by introducing their sparkling concept in bus travel on route 38 between Crewe and Macclesfield.
To mark the launch, a Sapphire bus was parked up for the day in Crewe town centre and special guests Queen Elsa and Princess Anna from Frozen joined Alfie the Arriva mascot to give away information and goodies to shoppers and customers in the town.
Sapphire buses offer customers a first-class journey experience. All vehicles are equipped with power points to charge phones and laptops, free WiFi, audiovisual stop announcements and extra-comfy seating for customers.
Arriva’s Sapphire brand was first launched in the North West back in 2013, with the Chester to Wrexham service being the first to benefit from the upgraded vehicles and service provisions. With great reports by Arriva staff and customers alike, Sapphire has been a huge success, with several other launches of the brand implemented around the country.
The 38 service operates from Crewe Bus Station to Macclesfield Bus Station, serving Haslington, Sandbach, Congleton Fairground and Gawsworth along the way. Interestingly unlike some of the other Sapphire service, the frequency of the 38 service has remained hourly – still frequent enough though for such an interurban route.
A complete journey on the 38 service from Crewe to Macclesfield takes around 75 minutes in the daytime. Travelling around the area with a North West Day Saver ticket is easy, costing just £5.00 for unlimited travel in the North West area which is valid all the way to Manchester and even to Liverpool and Wrexham in North Wales.
High Quality Traits
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. An interesting part of the philosophy behind Sapphire is to try different approaches in different locations to quantify the results that different levels of specification produce.
The eye-catching buses are easily recognisable by their striking two-tone blue ‘Sapphire’ livery that is complemented by new features like power sockets, coach-style upper deck seating and complimentary WiFi which makes travelling by bus more fun and enjoyable to the casual user.
With previous implementations of Sapphire, state of the art “talking buses” technology has 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.
|One of the three refurbished Wrightbus Gemini 2 bodied VDL DB300s at Congleton Fairground.|
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
Three double deck vehicles dating back to 2011 underwent a comprehensive refurbishment programme at the Arriva North West Paint Shop and Repair Facility in St Helens. A trio of Wrightbus Gemini 2 bodied VDL DB300s from Winsford garage gained Sapphire branded e-leather covered Esteban Civic V3 seats, LED saloon lighting, Icomera WiFi, plug sockets, installation of the Hanover Displays Audio Visual equipment, and of course CCTV is specified throughout for added security.
For our enthusiast readers, the three refurbished Wrightbus Gemini 2 bodied VDL DB300s from Winsford are registered, MX61 AUN (4489), MX61 AUO (4490) and MX61 AUR (4491).
John Rimmer, area managing director for Arriva Manchester said: “We’re delighted to bring the Sapphire brand to the area; we’re so excited to be announcing this investment. “The bus service will offer our customers a new and improved experience, we’re confident that passengers will be delighted with the enhancements and we hope to encourage more people to join us on board. They really do add a bit of a sparkle to your everyday journey!”
We’ve featured a few Sapphire launches here on The North West bus Blog, with the introduction of Sapphire service 1 in Wrexham back in 2013, a duo of routes in Bolton, Chorley and Wigan as well as in Llandudno and Rhyl in North Wales in 2014. The Sapphire was more recently introduced in Chester, Connah’s Quay & Holywell back in March this year. 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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