Stagecoach set industry tongues wagging last year when it ordered 30 minibuses from EvoBus (UK). They entered service on Sunday and the results are being watched very closely by managementSprinter City 45s: Partnership between Stagecoach and EvoBus (UK)Stagecoach South East began a brave new venture on Sunday (12 February) with the long-awaited launch of 30 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter City 45 minibuses in Ashford.The Sprinters – which seat 17 and carry a further five standees, along with having room for one wheelchair user in a low-floor section – represent what the group calls a radical experiment.They replace larger buses and bring with them a much higher frequency.Their impact on passenger numbers is being watched closely at a national level, and should the minibus concept be successful, there is every chance that Stagecoach will roll it out to other areas.Supplier of the Stagecoach Sprinters, EvoBus (UK), is already talking about potential for 150 City 45s in the medium term. It says that interest among other operators has been driven by Stagecoach’s purchase.Simple reasoningThe Kent project is a radical departure, but the thinking behind it is simple, says Stagecoach South East Commercial Director Matthew Arnold. It’s about increasing passenger numbers.The minibuses will, Stagecoach hopes, do this principally via a major boost to frequencies, to up to every five minutes, but other factors are in play.“Passengers can pay with contactless cards, and they can also use Android Pay,” says Mr Arnold. “Contactless is coming to all of our buses by late March, and along with the frequency increase it vastly improves the convenience factor with minibuses.”While the Sprinters represent an experiment for Stagecoach, it is an open-ended one, he adds.“There is no fixed timescale to what we are doing. We accept that passenger numbers will not rocket overnight, but strong growth is required in the long term.“I am confident that can be achieved. The minibuses return over 20mpg and replace double-deckers that do 6-7mpg, so there is a major efficiency benefit with the Sprinters.”20mpg is easily achievable, says EvoBus. It already has a number of Sprinter City 45s on bus work elsewhere, and recent trials showed that up to 23mpg is possible.EvoBus’s point of viewSupplying Sprinters to Stagecoach represents EvoBus (UK)’s first deal for a large number of City 45s for bus. While it is not the only manufacturer offering a vehicle of this type, the Coventry-based importer says it is in pole position for bigger orders.Minibus operation has long been a feature of mainland Europe’s bus landscape, and Sales Director Marcus Watts believes that the Stagecoach experiment could herald its widespread return to the UK.Making the City 45 as attractive as possible to passengers is important, he says. “We take the best from our van division and we combine it with the best of our coach and bus arm. We tried to give the City 45 as much in common with larger buses as possible, including seats and heaters.”The 30 minibuses are to be looked after on R&M package by local dealerIn a departure for Stagecoach, the Sprinters have been supplied with a five-year repair and maintenance package.They will be looked after by local dealer Mercedes-Benz dealer Sparshatts. It has been furnished with impress stock, and technicians have received technical training from EvoBus.Doing that, says Mr Watts, is an indication of how seriously the importer regards the Stagecoach deal. The same level of support could be rolled out to other areas in the future.Why minibuses?There are several strong arguments for minibus operation. One is the cost reduction that it delivers through lower energy consumption. Stagecoach runs almost four Sprinters for the same fuel burn as one double-decker.Driver costs are different. Stagecoach’s Sprinter pilots earn the same as those who drive its bigger buses, and thus passenger numbers must increase significantly if the experiment is to be a success. The Sprinters’ useful lives are also likely to be shorter than larger buses’.Mr Watts subscribes to the theory that minibuses have proved their worth in Europe, where the City range is well established.“In one city in the Netherlands, Sprinters replaced big buses that were running below capacity for much of the day. When they did, routes facing withdrawal as uneconomic became profitable.”Stagecoach’s experiment with Sprinters is interesting. There is no guarantee that it will be successful. But the product – both the vehicles and the convenience factor – is attractive, and it may yet herald the re-emergence of minibuses as a credible alternative to big buses.routeone commentStagecoach eschewed the easy option of allocating its Sprinters to rural routes in ones and twos and instead went in at the deep end by putting all 30 into the intensive service that poses a much sterner test.The theory behind its experiment is sound. Frequency enhancements are acknowledged to drive patronage gains. But more buses require more drivers, and in some areas drivers are not easy to find.If that can be dealt with, and if minibuses are used where there is an opportunity for growth, they may soon make a return over three decades after they originally appeared.Find out more:bit.ly/2kinjDg
Reading Buses is opening all its data to anyone who can make use of it, with the firm hoping to reap benefits from analysis.Already, a link between pollution caused by congestion and likelihood of minor accidents with Reading Buses has been established. Says John Bickerton, Head of Engineering & Innovation at Reading Buses: “This open data agenda will allow us to work on punctuality, reliability and to understand our customers better to provide travel links wherever they’re most popular.“Access to our Open Data server is via the web and interested parties should apply to us for a password and key, at no cost, to start pulling data from our servers.”The company hopes to see ongoing growth in their customer numbers by embracing this digital agenda, and it follows the launch of new buses on its orange and royal blue routes, its acceptance of contactless bank cards and updated mobile app.Last week Reading Buses took part in an Open Data Hackathon at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts at Shinfield Park.Reading Buses used the event to launch their open data strategy to around 60 attendees who worked through the night to understand links between different data sets, including many years of historic weather data, and to predict future patterns using machine learning.One of the winning projects took the same information that drives the company’s new app and looked at links between local air pollution and bumps and scrapes on the buses.“The true benefit of open weather and climate data comes through combining them with other open data sources,” said Florian Rathgeber, computational scientist at ECMWF and organiser of the Open Data Hack.“This combination helps better understanding the impact of weather on bus times and being able to better predict anticipated changes to the regular timetable.”
Great Little Trains of Wales has launched a training programme for the staff and volunteers of its 11 narrow-gauge railways.The ‘Service with Spirit’ programme uses grant funding from the UK Government Department for Transport’s Heritage and Community Rail Tourism Innovation Competition to train the people working on these Welsh railways.“We believe this is the first time that a group of railways has worked together on a project like this,” says Will Smith of the Vale of Rheidol Railway. “We know that Wales attracts visitors from all over the world to experience the Great Little Trains, and it is important to ensure that they receive a warm and friendly welcome from the staff and volunteers.”
John Wales (left) welcomes new CEO Joe SteeleEncore has appointed Joe Steele as its new CEO, and Nick Benjamin will join in March as the new Chief Technology Officer (CTO).Co-founder John Wales is stepping down as CEO to take more of a back seat in the company.The ticket specialist says it is “embarking on a new chapter of technology-fuelled growth and expansion,” as it targets 30% growth in ticket volumes in 2018.Mr Steele was formerly Group CEO of Bookatable, recently acquired by and integrated into Michelin Group. He also held digital leadership roles at Expedia, TripAdvisor and Thomas Cook Group, and brings experience of business transformation and international growth.Mr Benjamin is currently CTO of Dunelm. He will use his technical expertise to drive the business’ technology strategy, with new system integrations planned in 2018.John Wales says: “I am delighted both Joe and Nick are joining me and the rest of the team at Encore at this pivotal time, and look forward to working together to achieve our growth ambitions.”
Labcraft’s product provides pure white light to illuminate area by vehicleLabcraft’s BM3 Banksman R23 is an underbody lighting system that illuminates when a vehicle is reversing to maintain safety during such manoeuvres.It delivers bright white light to the sides of a coach or bus where conventional reversing lights are not sufficient.LEDs are fitted around the chassis to direct pure light downwards, helping to reduce accidents and to improve safety. The product satisfies relevant EU Regulations.Additionally, Labcraft says that the powerful lighting will help to reduce repair costs and insurance premiums for operators.www.labcraft.co.uk
Arriva Midlands has commenced its roll out of contactless payment technology from Ticketer, following on from the successful implementation of contactless in the Southern Counties region.Arriva has started the installation of the equipment throughout its 13 Midlands depots, starting with Luton and Aylesbury.Mark Bowd, Regional Managing Director for Arriva Midlands, says: “Customers are at the heart of everything we do, and with the overhaul of our ticketing systems, all we are doing is responding to the ever-increasing demand we are experiencing for more flexible transport provisions.“These ticket machines are futureproofing our vehicles and modernising on-board payment, which will ultimately benefit not only the passengers, but our business too, as we aim to transform the perception of bus transportation and position it as a viable and attractive alternative to travelling by car.”The new machines will be introduced to Milton Keynes, High Wycombe and Derby from 3 March, Thurmaston, Hinckley and Wigston from 10 March, Tamworth, Cannock, Telford and Shrewsbury from 24th March, and Oswestry on 31 March.
Transport for London (TfL) will return to collecting fares on 85 routes from Saturday 23 May. The measure will be reinstated on single-door buses, New Routemasters and the BYD ADL Enviro200EVs used by Go-Ahead London on services 507 and 521.In the latter two cases centre door-only boarding will remain in place. Passengers will be required to use Oyster and contactless card touch points located there.Partial resumption of fare collection is the first step to returning all of London’s buses to being able to accept payments once further safety measures have been put in place to protect drivers, TfL says.It suspended the requirement to pay a fare on all buses in the capital on 20 April, the same date that it introduced centre door-only boarding (where applicable) after an earlier trial.The requirement to once again touch in will be extended to more routes over coming weeks. TfL says that collection of fares will allow the gathering of accurate data on passenger numbers. That will help route planning.Bus service levels in London increased to 85% of normal in the week prior to the reintroduction of fare collection. TfL says it is working to achieve 100% as soon as possible, but its advice remains that social distancing needs mean that capacity is still “hugely reduced.”TfL is funding enhanced sick pay for bus staff who suffer from coronavirus COVID-19 symptoms or who must self-isolate for up to 14 days. It says that is to ensure those employees do not feel forced to attend work when they should not.
Margaret Palmer, formerly of David Palmer Coaches, passed away on Saturday (22 August) after a battle with cancer.Margaret and husband David started coaching the 1970s with a minibus, eventually buying a coach when business boomed.As a founder member of what is now the Coach Tourism Association, Margaret was a long serving board member and Vice Chairman for many years. Over the years she received many accolades for her contributions to the industry with included the CTC Award in 1998 and the COACHMonthly and CDC Special Award in 2007.Named Lady Margaret Palmer at a ceremony at the Confrérie des Sossons d’Orvaulx in Belgium, Margaret and David attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in recognition for her work within the coaching industry.After retiring due to ill health in 2009, Margaret went on to work with local charities and on the social committee for Yorkshire Cancer Research. She loved life to the full and made many close friends within the industry.Palmer Holidays in Normanton continues to be run by daughter-in-law Lisa, now part of the Grand UK Holiday Group.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Twitter WhatsApp Previous articleEast Jackson Blvd. in Elkhart reopening to trafficNext articleRace car driver suffers heart attack at South Bend Speedway Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney. Porter County woman indicted for failure to pay federal payroll taxes IndianaLocalNews (Photo supplied/ABC 57) A Porter County woman has been indicted in federal court on nine counts of willful failure to pay federal payroll taxes.The Indictment alleges that Kathy Lynch, 61, of Kouts, has owned and operated two health care clinics, Kouts Health Care, Inc. and its predecessor company Kouts Family Health Care, Inc. since January 1999.As alleged in the indictment, between January 1999 and September 2015, Lynch withheld federal income taxes and Medicare and Social Security contribution taxes from her employees’ paychecks but failed to submit over $500,000 of the withheld taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.During this time, the indictment alleges that Lynch used her company’s bank account to pay personal expenses such as mortgage and car payments, while failing to pay her federal payroll tax obligations.The case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Abizer Zanzi. Pinterest Facebook Google+ By Jon Zimney – July 25, 2019 0 461 WhatsApp Google+
However, the Commission remains convinced that GDP will grow in the 11-member single currency area by 3.0% this year and 3.2% in 1999.Officials said that this belief had been reinforced by the latest survey of EU business sentiment, which showed increasing confidence regarding orders and costs throughout the Union. A Commission official insisted that these were “prudent assumptions” which did not have to be changed.The Japanese outlook has been undermined by the recent financial turmoil in South East Asia, which has weakened demand in the region for exported goods and exposed some of Tokyo’s already shaky financial institutions to a sudden surge in bad and doubtful loans.Other G7 members – the US, Germany, the UK, France, Italy and Canada – have called on the Japanese government to boost the country’s economy by cutting taxes and increasing public spending. Interest rates are already so low that they cannot be cut again and G7 members would be opposed to any measures which caused the yen to fall further.In response to these demands, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto last week announced tax cuts for 1998-99 totalling close to 30 billion ecu, to be added to the previously announced 110-billion-ecu fiscal stimulus package.The position of European exporters has deteriorated because the collapse of several South East Asian currencies and the recent fall in the value of the yen have further shifted the balance in the Asians’ favour.Some analysts fear that this, together with the possibility that these devaluations will cause a massive fall in the price of imported consumer goods from Asia, could undermine European growth and monetary stability in the run-up to the euro. Anxiety is growing among members of the Group of Seven leading industrialised countries about the impact on the US and European economies of a recession in Japan.Last week, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forecast that Japanese gross domestic product would shrink by 0.3% this year and only grow by a sclerotic 1.3% in 1999. In 1997, GDP grew by only 0.9% and, towards the end of the year, the economy began to nose-dive.However, Commission forecasts published just a week earlier to coincide with the report assessing member states’ readiness to join the euro-zone are far more optimistic. They assume growth in Japan of 0.4% this year and 1.5% in 1999, and a yen-per-ecu exchange rate of 139.9, compared with a current rate of more than 144.