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November 01 2017
By Mel Holley

A former routeone editor, Mel has more than 30 years’ experience in road and rail transport journalism.

Minibus routes evolving

New commercial minibus routes by Arriva and Stagecoach continue to evolve, delegates at the Young Bus Managers Network conference heard.

Talking about the innovation of ArrivaClick - using Mercedes-Benz  Sprinters to provide an app-based demand-responsive service - Arriva Bus Kevin O’Connor said that the operator is still learning as the project progresses.

“We’ve had more interest from the industry and politicians in six minibuses in Kent than the rest of our 6,000 buses. And that’s because it’s different.

“We’ve learnt so much. We’ve got some things wrong, but if you give up early you wouldn’t have learnt anything.”

He said that the concept is doing well and hinted that it will be expanded to other locations.

Stagecoach is also trialling the ‘new minibus’ concept, on a scheduled service in Ashford. Regional Director Mike Watson described it as a “courageous” move, but one that has seen the market grow by 40%. “However, it needs to grow by 300%. Do we reign back the frequencies slightly, but to a point where you don’t kill the growth.”

He says that the current 7/8-minute frequency was created to ensure that the route could cope with potential demand.

While the running costs of minibuses have proved to be cheap, the “depreciation is heavy.”

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