Arriva Sapphire adds sparkle to Llandudno and Rhyl

A special display of twenty brand new buses for service 12 was officially unveiled at Rhyl Arena by William and Kate ‘lookalikes’ and school children from Bryn Hedydd and Christ Church schools earlier today, who made sure guests and passers-by enjoyed a ‘right royal welcome’.

Thursday 3rd July 2014 was the official launch party, with the first vehicles expected to hit the roads of North Wales at 07:10 on Sunday 6th July 2014. The high-specification service is certainly a step up from the previous operation, which used Arriva standard VDL SB200 single decks and DAF DB250 double decks originally hailing from London.

The 12 service operates from Rhyl Bus Station serving Ty Gwyn, Llanddulas, Colwyn Bay, Penrhyn Bay and Craig y Don before terminating at Llandudno’s West Shore. You may remember earlier in March we mentioned the arrival of 20 new vehicles for the service.

Frequency has been increased slightly, previously the service was running at every 12 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime, every 30 minutes of an evening, and every 20 minutes on Sunday daytimes. A new frequency of every 10 minutes Monday-Saturday daytime, every 30 minutes of an evening, and every 20 minutes on Sunday daytimes will also come into effect on Sunday 6th July, this should compliment the expected quality and frequency of service that Sapphire brings to a service.

Michael Morton, managing director for Arriva Wales said: “We’re delighted to be bringing 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 sparkle to people’s every day journey!”

The vehicles are twenty brand new Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 double decks on the Alexander Dennis 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 60 Sapphire branded e-leather covered seats, with the upper saloon in a 2+1 layout, LED saloon lighting, free onboard WiFi provided by Icomera, full front, side and rear Hanover Displays LED destination equipment as well as Hanover Displays audio-visual “talking buses” technology onboard. Both decks are fitted out with 240v plug sockets, and USB ports for charging mobiles, tablets and laptops; this feature, in particular, proves to be a great selling point to younger customers, many of whom have found it a great novelty especially where Sapphire has already been rolled out.

As well as this, Icomera’s Moovbox WiFi equipment is fitted, as seen on an increasing number of the fleet, though it’s given the Sapphire touch with its own landing page and one-time registration page. Passengers are required to register once, and fill in a short questionnaire to be entered into a prize draw, before using the service, after which their device is recognised.

In the upper and lower saloons, information screens and speakers are fitted to deliver automated next stop announcements; produced by Hanover Displays, who also produce Arriva’s standard destination display equipment. It is an impressive innovation, and offers passengers a clear and concise reminder of where they are on the route, bilingually in both Welsh and English.

Putting the lovely buses aside, Arriva had certainly gone out their way to make sure that their new Sapphire service was noticed, rather unexpectedly as passing through Rhyl town centre, I noticed people stopping and having a look at something awfully familiar yet on the other hand quite unusual. A group of four Sapphire branded girlies accompanied a portable Ice Cream trolley, complete with little goodies as well as information of the up and coming Sapphire service being introduced in the town.

For our enthusiast readers the registrations are as follows, CX14 BXV (4536), CX14 BXW (4537), CX14 BXY (4538), CX14 BXZ (4539), CX14 BYA (4540), CX14 BXD (4541), CX14 BXE (4542), CX14 BXF (4543), CX14 BXG (4544), CX14 BXH (4545), CX14 BXJ (4546), CX14 BXK (4547), CX14 BXL (4548), CX14 BXM (4549), CX14 BXN (4550), CX14 AZG (4551), CX14 AZJ (4552), CX14 AZL (4553), CX14 AZN (4554) and CX14 AZO (4555).

Timeline
In early 2012, we reported that Arriva Buses Wales had invested £2 million in 10 state of the art Wrightbus Gemini 2 DL’s for the northernmost Cymru Coastliner services 11, 11A, 11C, 11F, 11X and X11 which operate between Rhyl/Holywell and Chester/Mold out of Rhyl depot. They were fitted out with many extras like e-leather seating which have the Cymru Coastliner name embroidered into the tops of the seats, full rear LED destination displays and on-board WiFi connections.

In early 2014, we reported that Arriva Buses Wales had invested £2.5 million in the first phase of their investment package for the North Wales coast by Arriva Buses Wales. This included the arrival of 15 brand new VDL SB200’s with Wrightbus Pulsar 2 bodywork for their southernmost Cymru Coastliner services 5/X5/5C between Llandudno and Caernarfon. They came complete with Cymru Coastliner e-leather covered Esteban Civic V3 seats, LED saloon lighting, free onboard WiFi provided by Icomera, full front, side and rear Hanover Displays LED destination equipment as well as Hanover Displays audio-visual “talking buses” technology onboard.

Tom Harrison
ADMINISTRATOR
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