Saturday 6 September 2014

Hello Max : Goodbye Sapphire?

Another Super-Bus Service?

MAX – new inter-urban express
services from Arriva

We’re investing in success, taking it to the MAX,
with some new-look services
in the North East of England and Yorkshire.

MAX services will provide quicker connections
on key selected inter-urban express routes
and will offer customers all the benefits
of our new MAX pack

Free on-board WiFi and Arriva Bus App links
for MAXimum connectivity
Enhanced driver training for MAXimum service
No-quibble money-back guarantee for MAXimum value
New interiors and e-leahter seating for MAXimum comfort
New livery for MAXimum impact
It was a huge launch in the North-East; complete with bright lights, new livery and even a robot to scare the children away from buses! Arriva's X10 and X11 are one of the first services to get this treatment.
Although the bus illustrated isn't new.
It has carried X10/X11 branding for some time, possibly since purchase; as seen here on the X13.Such is the power of route branded vehicles! Arriva's current web site was coy about revealing the times for the X13.
there weren't any!

So what do your get for your new MAX money?
"Quicker connections"? Has the X10/X11 timetable changed? Comfy "leather" seats? WiFi? Customer Care? Top notch information? The on-line presence looks remarkably like any other Arriva timetable. Clicking on "Arriva North east" fbb found an index of timetables for ...
Bletchley, Wrexham, High Eycombe, Runcorn and Uttoxeter. Well, Arriva is now a German Company ...
... so perhaps their UK geographical knowledge is a bit on the thin side!  Welche dieser Städte im Nordosten ist?

Good information? Once upon a very recent time, Arriva provided PDF versions of maps and timetables (as per their excellent leaflets) for the user to download. fbb could not find any of this when he search for the X10/X11.
The latest scrollable timetable in bits was all that was obviously available ...
... plus a dotty route map!

As well as the X10/X11 and X15 in the North-East ...
... the 268 in West Yorkshire has had the treatment.
Anyway, it all looks impressive, but two questions remain.

1. Shouldn't these improvements be part of every bus route?

2. Whatever happened to Sapphire?
Has it lost its sparkle - already?

Aha! A third question.

What IS the difference between Sapphire and Max?

Answers, please, together with a £10 note, to the usual address.

Hmmm. Wonder where they got the Max idea from?
Parkway Publicity Progress - NOT
Our Bristol correspondent has kept us up to date with the leaflet racks at Bristol Parkway station. The contents have usually been a selection of  leaflets for bus services available outside the booking hall with some being out-of-date and some being very out-of-date. Occasionally there has been a supply of correct literature.

Dedicated readers of this blog will know that First has rejigged and improved its services to the University of the West of England, just across the former verdant pastures of Filton from Parkway. One change has been the introduction of the X74 service. A new leaflet has been produces complete with map etc. Jolly good.

So guess what the racks at Parkway held a couple of days ago?
New and old together. Well done, yet again, First.
 Next bus blog : Sunday 7th September 


  1. I agree that Arriva's revamped website is a step backwards compared to before. The new timetables are atrocious and, in the Midlands at least, the Service Changes order is the wrong way round (the latest changes are at the bottom of the page). And why separate PDF timetables for Saturdays and Sundays. Do weekend travellers not use Arriva buses during the week?

  2. Having managed to find a report on the launch of MAX in last weeks Bus & Coach Buyer it appears Sapphire remains as a higher standard of bus (including better branded flooring, on-board plug points onboard Audio-visual announcements) with MAX complementing these with a slightly lower spec of equipement, though the line may become more blurred in future launches on things like AV. Sapphire still has a future with new launches planned on the routes from Middlesbrough to the East towards Whitby (5 & X3/X4) with further MAX routes also planned.

    Wi-Fi & Leather seats are unlikely to ever be considered standard spec. Wi-Fi is a good product that is attractive but there is a significant on-going cost (something in the region of £1000 per bus per year I believe plus a similar upfront installation cost) so it will never be justified on every bus for every company on every route. Leather seats are a bit controversial, some passengers don't like them but they do help lend a more upmarket air to vehicles when done properly. The marketing, publicity & info offers should really be standard, and in effect probably are in terms of what is offered for this services (whether it is when used actually as good as promoted or as good as we would like is another question) as none of these companies really have separate departments actually providing this just for these services. It is just a useful way of promoting what they already do but does cause the unfortunate side effect of making people think they aren't available for other services when it is.