Tuesday 1 October 2013

Going for Gold! : Going for First? [1]

"So what exactly was the thinking behind the new Stagecoach Gold buses? Our chief executive Sir Brian Souter wanted to develop a product which gave something back to our loyal customer base. Our research had highlighted that key elements of the bus journey, including clean vehicles, friendly drivers, comfortable seats and pleasant surroundings contributed greatly to our customers overall journey experience.

These aspects, combined with a Customer Service Charter, were developed to form the basis of the service 'Stagecoach Gold'.

It started, if the fbb "leedle grey cells" are operating reliably, in September 2009 with the frequent bus service between Cheltenham and Gloucester ...
... and has since grown into a rather motley collection of routes all over the country.
Frequent services (Bicester, Leamington, Perth) have been joined by less frequent interurban routes (Milton Keynes, Whitehaven, Swindon) but all have been upgrades of existing Stagecoach operations. Yesterday broke new ground with a completely new Gold route reaching deep into enemy territory. This is all about bus politics because the vehicles for this development had been ordered for elsewhere. 

We now know that FirstBus will be retreating to nurse her commercial wounds with a total abandonment of identical and long-standing routes X80 and X81. 
We suspect that First's routes were not highly profitable and "resources" were better used elsewhere, e.g in Plymouth itself where the company struggles against persistent and proliferating Plymouth City Bus pressure. But, for nostalgia's sake ...
... we say a fond farewell somewhat in advance of the routes' scheduled demise.

Here is a timetable extract for the Stagecoach "replacement" ...
... which seems to have lost its route number(s) somewhere along the line.

Thus it was that the fbbs drove their motor car (shame; but timings were unfavourable for bus all the way!) from Seaton to Torquay to ride the Gold route "Gold" to Totnes to join in with the official launch. The Stagecoach invitation email did suggest using this opportunity to test the brand but failed to offer free travel OR details of where to alight from the motorised nugget.
The on-line route map was (a) too small and (b) lacking in any helpful detail; so fbb resorted to a mixture of Traveline and Transport Defunct to locate the alighting stop here ...
... at Bridgetown (top right) for Steamer Quay (bottom left).

WRONG! The first part of the day was simply a ...
 ... disaaarster darling!

Stagecoach Gold route "Gold" doesn't stop at Totnes Bridgetown because it doesn't go that way. It runs via Westonfields and stops at Pathfields (map, centre). This problem turned out to be irrelevant as fbb and Mrs spent some 40 minutes touring the mysteries of Torquay and failing totally to find the correct car park. This despite painstaking research on the Torbay Council car parks web site pages. The trouble is that you need to know which car park you want in order to read information which will help you find the car park you want.
Should have gone to Specsavers by bus; or train; or helicopter!

Advice to those seeking to visit Torquay and park there:-


The fbb's abandoned their planned ride on Stagecoach Gold "Gold" and drove on to Totnes for the launch celebrations ...

... which were excellent; so much so that tomorrow's planned Dijon Blog is postponed 'til Thursday to allow fbb to share some of the delights of the day. The "Gold" vehicle is impressive, this being fbb's first encounter with such a beast.
The dull day did not do justice to the "distinguished" gold and dark blue livery. The route promotional material was not over-intrusive ...
... rear or side.
Nothing impinged on the windows; and the interior is stunning; even with the back seats loaded with advertorial clutter for distribution ...
... for which the Stagecoach lady apologised. The contrast with the vehicles on offer from defeated FirstBus was marked.
Pehaps not quite as marked as that!

More nuggets tomorrow

 Dijon part 2 is postponed to Thursday  -----------------------------------------------
Credit where credit is due!
Having complained about lack of new maps for York's revised services and bloggingly wondered when any might actually appear (read again) ...
... fbb must report that a full set of maps, network and route-by-route, appeared on the First York web site yesterday. And excellent and accurate they be!
The full set can be viewed and enjoyed (here)
 Next Bus Blog : Wednesday 2nd October 


  1. The little grey cells are at least slightly mistaken! When the concept started and was called 'Goldline' the first two routes were in Perth and Warwick. The 94 might have been the first to be branded as 'Gold' (I don't know) but it wasn't the first in that style, shall we say!

  2. I knew that! But thanks for the reminder. The 94 was the first "Gold" without the "Line"!

  3. While the 'Gold' services are great, it is unfortunate that the scrolling 'Service Updates' at http://www.stagecoachgold.com/ are never updated. Mind you there was a 'good service' on 6 of the routes on 6 February 2012. Attention to detail please!