Falcon coach service connecting South West locations launched

Bristol Airport has said that Stagecoach South West has launched a new service – Falcon, the first dedicated 24/7 coach service connecting major locations across the South West.

Claimed as a cost effective alternative to the train, the Falcon service will start on Sunday, February 14 and will operate 19 journeys a day, seven days a week between Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton, Bristol Airport and Bristol City Centre, both day and night.

In celebrating the launch, single and return journeys will initially cost just £1 from February 14 to 27. From the end of February, normal fares will apply, which include £5 return journeys anywhere along the route for under 25’s and OAP’s and adult returns from £7.50. All return fares are valid for up to 28 days. Weekly and monthly ticket options for regular commuters will also be available, with prices starting from £20 a week.

Bob Dennison, Managing Director of Stagecoach South West, said: ‘Falcon is a bold new step in making it easier for people to travel across the region. It’s a ’round the clock’ service between the main towns and cities across the South West plus Bristol Airport.

‘I am confident this new 24/7 connection will prove extremely popular with commuters, University students, shoppers, day trippers and, of course, holidaymakers flying from Bristol.’

Liz Macnaughton, Commercial Manager – Ground Transportation, Bristol Airport said, ‘We are delighted to welcome the Falcon coach service which will give customers from key catchment areas easy access to and from Bristol Airport.

We are committed to working with transport partners on improving surface access to the Airport now and in the future. This is the first time a service will be available to customers from Plymouth, Exeter and Taunton and I am sure it will be a success.’

Falcon will operate up to every hour during the day and at various times overnight, connecting the South West’s main towns and cities as well as a 24 hour service to Bristol International Airport, the region’s busiest transport hub. Journeys are timed to serve the needs of commuters, leisure and holiday travellers. The eight new coaches will all feature free Wi-Fi as well as air conditioning, leather seats and charging sockets.

Tickets, including weekly season tickets, can be bought in cash direct from the driver. A select number of tickets will also be available to pre-book via www.megabus.com, and four week season tickets will be available to buy online at www.stagecoachbus.com, the airport said.

National Express Celebrates Buoyant Sales of Disabled Coach Card

National Express, a UK based transport company, has reported selling around 10,000 of its Disabled Coachcard in its initial year.

The Coachcard was launched in October 2012, offering passengers with limited mobility a discount of around 30 percent on coach travel, and is available for a price of £10 a year. The card is not limited to the time or the day of travel, and has become a hit with the passengers that are suffering from disabilities.

The card was introduced after the UK government ended concessionary travel for disabled people.

The company accessibility manager, Mark Hollis, said, ‘We are really pleased about how successful our Disabled Coachcard has been over the last year. Ten thousand sales is a really important milestone for us. The passenger lifts are not only for passengers who use wheelchairs, as people with reduced mobility can also benefit from the lifts too.’

The company is offering improved access coaches with easy-access lifts, and intends to transform its fleet to become fully wheelchair accessible by early 2013. The coach operators also offer assistance and support for boarding and leaving the coach to customers with limited mobility.

The company has recently been awarded the Listed Company Turnaround Award, at the annual Institute for Turnaround (IFT) awards, for its transformation from being in considerable financial difficulty to strong financial health, recording profits and offering job security.

Christine Elliott, the chief executive of the Institute for Turnaround, said, ‘National Express is a shining example of a business with great potential being brought back from the brink by implementing the key skills that all of our members use time and again. Such businesses play a vital role in both the national and local economy and it is important that they are supported in their efforts to turn their businesses around.’

Coach Travel an Alternative to UK Christmas Train Disruption

National Express, a UK based road transport company, is laying on a number of extra coaches to cope with an expected Christmas rush.

The train operator is offering around 10,000 extra seats on December 23 and 24, 2012, for those travellers that might be inconvenienced by delays caused by maintenance work on the West Coast Main Line rail service.

For the two days before Christmas, rail passengers could suffer disruption due to their being no direct train services between London and Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow. Passengers who have already booked confirmed tickets on these train routes might opt for a cancellation, or opt to travel by National Express coaches with guaranteed reservations for the said dates.

The maintenance work will impact on services from Euston to Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow, with no traffic on these routes. Services will resume on December 27, 2012, while two of the four lines will remain closed.

Robin Gisby, the Network Rail network operations managing director, said, ‘Services on the West Coast on December 23 and 24 will be severely affected.

We understand and regret the impact this will have on passengers and freight services, but believe it is necessary to achieve the long-term benefits.’

Chris Gibb, the chief operating officer of Virgin Trains, said, ‘We are working hard with industry colleagues to ensure customers have as much advance information as possible, irrespective of who will actually be running long distance services on the West Coast Main Line by this time.’

Megabus Launches Budget Coach Travel to Europe from London

Megabus, a city-to-city express bus service operating in the UK, has commenced new routes across the UK and to other European destinations.

The company is offering new routes from London, to Paris and Boulogne in France, Brussels in Belgium, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The trips are priced at rates commencing from as little as £1 per person, and there is a £0.50 booking fee on fares.

In these times of financial austerity, coach travel could offer one avenue for affordable spring and summer European vacations, and the launch of new routes by tour operators is designed to enhance the option.

Coaches leave from Victoria Coach Station in London with the choice of day or night departures. The journey from London to Paris takes around 10 hours by coach, while the journey to Brussels takes around 9 hours, and continues to Amsterdam, adding another 3 hours to the journey time. The new routes have been developed with an investment of GBP2.5m, and the double-deck coaches have 48 seats, tables for use during the daytime and complimentary Wi-Fi service.

Sir Brian Souter, the chief executive officer of Stagecoach Group, PLC, the parent company of Megabus, said, ‘We launched megabus.com in Scotland nine years ago and it has already transformed intercity travel in the UK and North America. For too long, people in many parts of Europe have been paying too much for their coach travel. Our new network offers families, students and tourists great value fares and high-quality coaches. These services will deliver a long-overdue shake-up to the over-priced European coach travel market.

Our new routes to France, Belgium and the Netherlands have already been extremely popular. Based on our experience in the UK, we are also very excited about the potential for sleeper coach services across the Channel and look forward to continuing to develop our concept vehicle.’

Coach tour of the M25 is a hit

For many drivers spending four hours sat on London’s M25 can be a frustrating experience. However there are tourists willing to spend £15 on a tour of the road.

Visitors are escorted around the ‘highlights’ of the London Orbital in this unusual coach tour. Surprisingly the tour has been so popular that extra dates have been added to meet the ‘huge’ demand. According to the Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Company tickets had sold out for the trip along the 117 mile ring road within just two months.

The trip takes visitors to Heathrow Airport’s Terminal Five, Epping Forest, Essex’s Lakeside Shopping Centre and the Dartford River Crossing Bridge.  The driver’s route will depend on the result of a coin toss, resulting in whether the driver travels clockwise or anti-clockwise. During the tour passengers are treated to a commentary on ‘interesting facts about the motorway’s evolution’.

Passengers are encouraged to take part in the coach’s competition where travellers have to guess the distanced travelled by the coach. The winner is then treated to a bottle of champagne. Roger French, the company’s spokesman described the motorway as ‘fascinating’ and ‘ironic’. The M25 first opened in October 1986 – costing an estimated £909 million – and has been mocked as ‘Britain’s biggest car park’ due to its congestion and on-going roadwork’s.

The company’s website said: “The M25 has been named the least entertaining and most boring road in Britain over the years.

“Let us try to prove these judgements wrong with a ‘flight of fancy’ around the London Orbital”. The bus company revealed that, one of the popular attractions for tourists is the chance to see Cobham’s newest services being built in Surrey. The services are set to include a McDonald’s, KFC and a Shell garage. The lot is set to be completed by the end of the summer.

Simon Ashcroft, a spokesman for the coach firm said that the first tour – which is set to take place in March – has sold out, and new dates have been added in April and May due to ‘huge public demand’.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh