First Aberdeen welcomes 26 brand new micro-hybrid buses into fleet

27 August 2014  •  Author(s): First Group

First Aberdeen, the city’s leading bus operator, has unveiled 26 state of the art brand new buses, which are amongst the most fuel-efficient in the world.  

First Sunshine

Each new vehicle is also fitted with the latest energy saving technology

First has invested around £4.3m in the 26 Micro-Hybrid Streetlite vehicles and they are operating on routes 3 and 23.  In order to give those services their own unique identity First Aberdeen has renamed the routes Sunshine Service 23 and Thistle Service 3.  The new buses sport innovative and eye-catching new Sunshine and Thistle branding which will help customers ensure they catch the right bus.

The inspiration behind re-naming Thistle Service 3 was to give it a real Scottish flavour, while Sunshine was chosen as the First Aberdeen creative team state there isn’t a better place in Scotland than Aberdeen when the sun shines.    

The new buses come equipped with leather seats, free wifi for customers and extra room for wheelchairs and passengers with buggies.  Each new vehicle is also fitted with the latest energy saving technology including a braking power system similar to that used on Formula 1 racing cars, which re-uses energy to power other parts of the bus.  The Micro-Hybrid buses are also lighter than a conventional single deck bus and, together with advanced engine technology, are around 30% more fuel efficient.

Duncan Cameron, Managing Director of First Aberdeen, said: “The arrival of these state of the art brand new buses is great news for our customers.  

“Micro-Hybrids are one of the most fuel efficient buses in the world and we are one of the first companies to take delivery of them.  The fresh new interiors, the complementary wi-fi, leather seats and our brilliant Thistle and Sunshine branding will, I’ve no doubt, be a big hit with passengers.  

“In the last two years we’ve invested a total of £7.8m in 49 brand new vehicles (in 2013 First invested £3.5m in 23 buses).  We’ve therefore replaced around a third of our fleet and recognising the importance and popularity of keeping people connected, around one third of our buses are fitted with free wifi.

“Our strategy at First Aberdeen is to continue improving services so that we can attract more people on board.  Investment in new buses and installing free wifi are part of a range of initiatives which is resulting in passenger growth.  Our Platinum services and the introduction of M-Ticketing (using mobile phones as bus tickets) for example have helped attract more people on to our buses.  I can assure our customers that our improvement plans will continue across our network.”

Aberdeen City Council leader, Jenny Laing, said: “I warmly welcome First’s investment in these new fuel-efficient buses, which are very much in line with the City Council’s intent to be at the forefront of new energy developments. I am sure that passengers will also be delighted with the other new features, which will make travelling with young children so much easier and make public transport a more viable option for people with a disability.”

Thistle Service 3 operates every ten minutes (Monday-Friday) and links Heathryfold, Kittybrewster with the city centre and the ARI and Sheddocksley. Sunshine Service 23 operates every ten minutes (Monday-Friday) and links Mastrick, the ARI, Rosemount with the city centre and Wellington Road, Tullos and Cove.

All First Aberdeen’s new Micro-Hybrid Streetlite vehicles are manufactured by Wrightbus.  They are fitted with EURO V engines and feature wi-fi and leather seats as standard.  

The new vehicles are the latest in a range of initiatives and investments that First Aberdeen has put in place to improve bus travel for its customers, all of which have contributed to a 2% growth in passengers across the network:

  • In March 2014, First Aberdeen launched M-Ticketing which enables customers to buy tickets via an app and use their mobile phone as bus tickets.
  • In November 2013, First revealed its customer focused Service 19 Platinum Service, which has since been crowned Scotland’s Best Bus Service at the 2014 Scottish Transport Awards.  With an extra 1500 customers a week using the service, First Aberdeen turned another route Platinum in July 2014 – Service 12
  • First invested £3.5million in 23 brand new buses in 2013.  The new vehicles, christened the Northern Lights, are fitted with leather seats and complementary wi-fi.
  • First Aberdeen’s punctuality and reliability performance has never been better with 95% of all services leaving on time. 
  • In its most recent fares review (March 2014) First, for the second year running, held in price or reduced the majority of its fares.
  • The company has run a number of fares promotions on various routes within its network and in October 2013 permanently reduced its Family Weekend Day ticket by 25%.
  • The company is undertaking a fleet refresh programme which is improving the exterior of all its buses and the interiors of many of its buses.  First’s Park and Ride fleet have been rebranded and refreshed.
  • First launched a network wide ‘Customer Promise’ whereby passengers can claim a free travel voucher if they are unhappy with any aspect of the service (within First’s control).
  • First Aberdeen has secured the services of eight regular customers to form a Customer Panel to provide mystery shopper evaluations on its bus services.
  • In December 2013, following an independent customer satisfaction survey, First revealed that 87% of customers are either ‘quite satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with First’s services, a record for the company.

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