Another customer for the Yutong TC9 is Manchester-based Travel Master, which has taken two supplied by Pelican Bus and Coach (01924 227722).One has 35 seats in a red moquette, and the other is a 32-seater with rear toilet, factory-finished leather seats, and a servery fitted by AD Coach Systems of Biddulph.Both coaches have been delivered to the operator in its grey-based livery, and Managing Director Zak Master says that they have received excellent feedback from passengers. Travel Master’s drivers have been equally impressed.“It’s amazing how appealing the TC9s are with a luxurious interior, stylish exterior and all the usual driving refinements plus more,” says Zak, who adds that he is looking forward to a long partnership with Pelican and the Yutong team.Power is from a Cummins ISB6.7 engine coupled to ZF’s EcoLife gearbox.
Visitors to the Omnibus stand at Euro Bus Expo (T144 in the Technology Zone) will have the first chance to fully explore the new features in the company’s depot allocation system OmniDAS, including the newly enhanced driver communication app myDAS Touch. Capitalising on the popularity of smartphones, the myDAS Touch app allows drivers to access all their own details, including rota and holiday details, from their phone whilst out and about, or other devices when at home. Drivers can now choose to use the app or the company intranet to view their upcoming shifts, as well as used and available holidays. They can also submit requests for holidays, shift swaps and overtime.With the ongoing debate about the final content of the Bus Services Bill, the Omnibus team will also be on hand to talk about the possible implications regarding the use and sharing of data.Visitors can also meet the newest member of the Omnibus team – Adam Stephenson – who recently joined the company as Business Development Manager from TAS Consultancy. His first project was to re-design the Omnibus website in time for the Show.Peter Crichton, Omnibus’s Managing Director, comments: “As always, we are looking forward to greeting visitors to our stand this year – old friends as well as new – attracted by the various exciting software developments that we are showcasing. There may well be a few surprises too.”
G & M Coaches, a third generation family business operating out of Lampeter in mid-Wales, has taken delivery of a new 12.8m Volvo B8R/Plaxton Leopard 59-seater for school runs and private hires.The company is managed by husband and wife team Granville and Menna Issac, along with their daughter Angharad and son Gareth.Says Granville Issac: “As a business it is important that we introduce new vehicles that are safe, comfortable and at the forefront of low emission technology.”The firm already runs Plaxton Paragon and Panther coaches.
The multi award-winning production of Matilda The Musical will tour the UK and Ireland in 2018-2019.The muscial will open at Leicester Curve, playing from 5-24 March 2018, followed by Dublin Bord Gais Energy Theatre (4 April-28 April), Sunderland Empire (8 May-2 June), Milton Keynes Theatre (5 June-30 June), Birmingham Hippodrome (3 July-8 September), Manchester Palace (18 September-24 November) and Cardiff Wales Millennium Centre (4 December-12 January 2019).The production will be accompanied in each location by a new education programme to engage young people, inspired by Matilda The Musical.Now in its sixth year in London’s West End, Matilda The Musical is the longest running production at the Cambridge Theatre where it is currently booking until 17 December 2017.Further dates and venues are to be announced in due course.uk.matildathemusical.com/tour
A “systematic programme of management actions” has delivered a small rise in First Bus UK’s revenue, up by 1.3% from commercial passengers. It is also poised to change its networks, says Group CEO Tim O’Toole.It has carried out its threat to “focus our capital budget only on those markets where our stakeholders recognise the value of bus services, and the local transport strategy recognises the importance of bus services in responding to the problems of congestion, air quality, parking and issues of social exclusion.”It adds that due to “market uncertainties” there will be “further changes to the shape and breadth of our networks,” by March 2018.For the financial year to March 2018 it is buying 180 new buses, down from 272 in 2016/17.Announcing its interim results for the six months to 30 September First Bus UK made a £15.8m operating profit on a £428m revenue, a margin of 3.7%, up from 3.2% in the previous period.It says “demand patterns vary widely across the local markets. Industry conditions remain uncertain, with high street retail footfall trends and congestion affecting passenger demand in many of our markets, particularly in the north and Scotland.Find out more: Full interim report here
A bus highlighting the symptoms of ovarian cancer has been launched by Lothian Buses, following campaigning by Lothian engineering worker Colin Barclay – who lost his wife Jill to ovarian cancer.He was voted Lothian’s Unsung Hero at the company’s People Awards, and part of his award was to receive his very own bus to help his campaign to raise awareness of ovarian cancer symptoms.The operator launched the “ovarian cancer bus” in partnership with the charity, Target Ovarian Cancer.
The EVM X-Clusive conversion for Britannia Coaches has 16 leather seatsBritannia Coaches of Dover has taken delivery of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with X-Clusive conversion, supplied by EVM Direct (0845 520 5160).It has 16 Executive Class seats finished in leather and with three-point belts, and also specified is Tarabus non-slip, wood-effect flooring.An Audio 15 upgrade entertainment system with iPod input socket is fitted, along with a PA system and speakers within the passenger service units.Climate control is via a heater booster and an Eberspächer roof-mounted saloon air-conditioning unit. Panoramic glazing is present all round: Side windows, windscreen and within the roof.
Lakeside Coaches of Ellesmere has taken over NCB Motors of Wem, Shropshire.The purchase means Lakeside Coaches has taken on NCB Motors’ premises, as well as eight of its frontline vehicles and 14 members of staff.NCB Motors Directors Paul, 56, and Derek Brown, 66, will be staying on with the firm, with Paul as Operations Manager at the Wem premises and Derek dealing with the contracts side of the business.Says Paul Brown: “None of my own or Derek’s children were interested in taking on the business, so the decision was made because now seemed as good a time as any.“We approached Lakeside as we have worked with them in the past and we get on well with them.”NCB Motors’ remaining seven vehicles and workshop equipment will be auctioned by Barbers Auctions LLP of Market Drayton. The auction will take place at NCB Motors’ depot on 6 April.
First Choice Minibus Services promotes addition of passenger-specific content via advisory group placeSurrey operator First Choice Minibus Services has reaffirmed its desire to help foster a greater take-up of the best practice Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) in the coach and bus sector.In 2014, First Choice was among the earliest passenger operators to achieve FORS Bronze accreditation. It now sits on the FORS Governance and Standards Advisory Group (GSAG), allowing it to share its experience and to guide the scheme’s growth.Says Associate Director Jason Thornton: “We sat down with FORS to discuss not only our own requirements, but also those of the wider coach and bus sector.“In five years, we have seen the benefits of FORS accreditation, but we also felt that there was scope for the scheme to benefit the industry at large.”Because of that, the operator has played what FORS calls “an important role” in the introduction of more relevant, up-to-date and specific passenger-specific content into the FORS Standard, which is a reference source defining what members must have in place to achieve and maintain accreditation.First Choice operates 33 mini and midicoaches. Mr Thornton adds that since joining FORS, insurance claims have dropped despite the business’s strong growth. “That comes when other operators have seen increases in their premiums. The insurance savings alone can fund any investment in the business required for a best-practice commitment.“Ultimately, we decided to get involved with the FORS GSAG to help support change in the coach and bus sector. Operators can invest in best practice and still grow their business – and be in a strong position for the future.”
First Manchester is selling its Bolton depot to Rotala for £5.3 million.The sale, of the depot and associated business, will make Rotala the second largest operator in Manchester.The business runs 18 commercial bus routes in Bolton and Bury and into central Manchester.Rotala will initially lease 125 buses from First, returning them as it buys new ones over the next two years.The sale is expected to complete in August, with 500 staff transferring to Rotala.The Bolton depot will become Rotala’s headquarters in the North West.First Manchester will retain a presence in the city, operating the premium brand Vantage on the Leigh guided busway, Yellow School Bus services, and tendered routes. It will also retain its training school function, and its depot in Oldham.These services and staff will be re-located to the former Rusholme depot site, previously the Finglands depot. It was retained by First Manchester after its closure and will be re-opened.First has decided to sell thanks to ‘current uncertainties’ in Manchester, including franchising plans pursued by Mayor Andy Burnham.It has already sold its Queens Road depot to Go-Ahead, which has formed Go North West.Giles Fearnley, MD of First Bus, says: “I’d like to thank our employees for their continued hard work to deliver the best experience possible for our customers in Greater Manchester.“Today’s announcement does not reflect on the effort, commitment or individual performance of our Bolton employees and we will be supporting them fully as they transfer to their new employer.”