Sapphire investment brings sparkle to bus services

Posted: 20 June 2013 | Arriva | No comments yet

Arriva welcomed Minister for Transport Norman Baker this week to mark the announcement of a major new project…

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Arriva welcomed Minister for Transport Norman Baker this week to mark the announcement of a major new project to upgrade bus services in the North East.

Arriva’s new Premium service, Sapphire, will see 10 new single deck buses provide an exciting customer experience for bus passengers on the popular 7 route between Darlington and Durham.

The service will include features such as free on board wi-fi, electric charging points for phones, iPads and laptops, audio-visual stop announcements and luxury e-leather seats with extra leg room.

The new vehicles, representing a £1.5 million investment by Arriva in the area, are ordered and due for delivery this October. It comes hot on the heels of a £2.2 million investment in March which saw the introduction of 11 new gas buses to the town.

To celebrate the Sapphire announcement, Arriva rolled out the blue carpet on 19 June so passengers and Transport Minister, Norman Baker, could look around a double deck demonstrator bus in Darlington town centre.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “It is very important to invest in transport in the North-East because if you invest in it, it improves the economy and business in the area. These days the bus should be the vehicle of choice and these new buses are a new way of attracting people to use the bus.”

Bob Holland, Arriva’s managing director – UK, said: “Sapphire is an exciting revolution in bus travel. Customer expectations are changing. We recognise people want an active travel experience and Sapphire brings this to bus travel.

“Free-wi-fi, on board power points and improved seating allow people to enjoy the benefits previously only associated with business rail travel. It improves our service for existing customers and will help encourage a potential new generation of bus passengers.”

Nigel Featham, regional managing director for Arriva North East, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing the Sapphire brand to Darlington and Durham, to operate on our route 7 service.

“The investment is significant at a time when there are plenty of economic challenges out there, but we firmly believe in continuing to try and improve our service offering whenever and wherever we can.”

Sapphire was initially launched on Arriva Buses Wales’ route 1 Wrexham-Chester service in April with nine buses entering service. By the end to 2013 Arriva UK Bus will have invested some £3 million in 41 Sapphire buses operating on key routes across the UK. The investment includes a mix of new and refurbished vehicles.

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