Saturday, 29 March 2014

All Gas and Goodness in Aberdeen [1]

This very moe (Whoops) nice man from Aberdeen ...
pop nuts a
... is Niall Dowds. He is chief PR man for First in Scotland. He sends fbb lots of lovely press releases, so many that Aberdonian blogs could well appear every week! But you can have too much of a good thing - even the mercurial rise of Worst Bus to First Bus can become a little, well, samey, however commendable it might be.

But because things are happening at a franctic pace, fbb will attempt to distill some of the latest gems in expurgated form.

 No. 1 Charity Work 

In 1911, a young man named Douglas Macmillan watched his father die of cancer. His father's pain and suffering moved Douglas so much, he founded the 'Society for the Prevention and Relief of Cancer'. Douglas wanted advice and information to be provided to all people with cancer, homes for patients at low or no cost, and voluntary nurses to attend to patients in their own homes. Today much of Douglas' legacy lives on. We are still a source of support for people living with cancer today and we are a force for improving cancer care.
First (nationally) has donated £80,000 worth of in-bus advertising space to support Macmillan's latest campaign.

 No. 2 Fair Fares 

First Aberdeen today said that it will freeze the overwhelming majority of its fares in 2014 and reduce in price Adult Day tickets. The company confirmed that it is able to reduce or freeze the majority of its fares, for a second year running, as a result of the increasing numbers of customers travelling on First Aberdeen services. The only fare which will increase is Stage 3-5 of the Adult Single fare.

Details of First Aberdeen's Annual Fares Review, which will be implemented from March 30, include:-

Adult FirstDay ticket reduced by 40p to £4.30
Adult Off Peak FirstDay ticket reduced from £4.10 to £3.80 
During fresher's week students term ticket is £300 (a £50 discount)
All other student tickets frozen
All season tickets (including FirstWeek) frozen
All children's tickets frozen (including single tickets)
Park and Ride tickets frozen
First Family Weekend ticket frozen (reduced by 25% in October 2013)
Late night services fares frozen
New £3 evening ticket promotion introduced  (not Fri amd Sat)

And the bad news?

Stage 3-5 Single Adult ticket increased by 10p to £2.10.
The "Travel Trio" promotion Services 11 and 20 will end.

Things are definitely going right for the Fearnley masterplan. (See below item 3; also interview with GRF in the April edition of Buses magazine; not a "canard du premier Avril".)

 No. 3 It's a Gas 
Actually this came from the City and not from Niall 'cos it's their project.

The Aberdeen City Council-led bus project, which has backing from Europe, the UK Government and the Scottish Government, as well as a broad range of private sector partners, will deliver a hydrogen infrastructure in Aberdeen in 2014. This will include the production of hydrogen from a 1MW electrolyser ....

[That's using electricity to split water- H2O = into H, hydrogen and O, oxygen]

... and establishing a state-of-the-art hydrogen refuelling station, Scotland's first commercial-scale hydrogen refuelling station that will include hydrogen production through electrolysis, in partnership with BOC.

Council leader Barney Crockett said: “The arrival of these buses in Scotland is absolutely wonderful news. We will have the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell ...

[That's using hydrogen and oxygen to oin together again and create water and electricity]

... buses running on the Aberdeen’s streets,.

Got it? Good! fbb explained the principle back in April 2011, complete with diagram.
Hydrogen buses have been running intermittently on London's route RV1 ...
... and Aberdeen's batch of ten, shared equally between First and Stagecoach, will hit the roads of the Granite City in May.
It is worthwhile to stress that Aberdeen's hydrogen buses are totally different from "Gas" buses. Stgecoach has just announced a fleet of 17 for Suderland

The initial batch of gas buses are 17 Scania K270UB 4×2 with ADL Enviro 300 bodywork. The Scania chassis is powered by their OG9 GO4 9.3l five-cylinder vertical in-line gas engine coupled to an automatic gearbox.

Developing 270hp, drivers have already commented positively on the power available along with the comfortable feel of the controls. The chassis has only around 40 components not common to the diesel version. Composite gas tanks on the roof, concealed in a stylised pod, hold the fuel at a pressure of up to 200 bar.

These simply burn gas instead of diesel; like gas central heating instead of oil.

 No. 4 Super Survey Success 

There are still those "out there" who doubt the long term results of  the Fearnley Turnaround policy. But the recent Passenger Focus survey suggests that ow Public is responding with growing enthusiasm. These headlines are from a First Bus press release and are, therefore, skewed in favour of the Company.

86% of passengers said they were satisfied with their overall journey
(a rise of 5% compared to 2013)

First has seen an increase in score in 34 of the 35 variables measured

93% of passengers in Suffolk were satisfied with their overall journey
(second highest amongst operators in England)

Greater Manchester recorded a 31% increase in value for money scores to 71%

Nationally an overall 10% increase in value for money scores
Nationally an overall 9% increase in punctuality scores

Nevertheless the change is mighty impessive.

Well done, First. And there is, we are told, further improvement in the pipeline and even better "stats" since the survey was taken.

  Next bus blog : Sunday 30th March 

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