Airline service investment
This year we invested £3.5 million upgrading our Airline fleet with 11 new, high specification, Mercedes Tourismo coaches. This service consists of 16 coaches in total and operates 24/7 365 days every year between Oxford and Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
The new coaches are fitted with the latest green technology and are ultra-low Euro 6 rated for emissions. The vehicles provide customers with luxurious seating that can be extended both vertically and horizontally, plus tray tables, USB charging points, sat nav progress display, free WiFi, wheelchair access and much improved luggage capacity.
In FY ending June 2019 this service carried more than 600,000 passengers. Based on Experience Oxfordshire’s ‘Economic Impact for Tourism’ report, it is estimated that the service brings in more than 150,000 visitors to Oxford annually and therefore contributes approximately £75 million to the local economy.
The service is popular with customers who benefit from drop-off points near the Terminals with walking times of 5 minutes from coach stop to Heathrow T5 or Gatwick North/South, and 10 minutes from Heathrow T2 and T3.
Nine of the new coaches are branded with the Airline blue livery, while the other two are fully wrapped in eye-catching artwork as part of our partnership with the world famous Ashmolean Museum.
‘Brand the Bus!’ competition
In April 2019 we launched a specially designed bus celebrating GirlGuiding Oxfordshire as the winners of our first ‘Brand the Bus!’ competition. This eye-catching addition to the Oxford Bus Company fleet now travels the streets of Oxford everyday promoting not only the winners but also positions the Oxford Bus Company as a responsible and supportive business within our community.
In its first year the competition attracted, 37 entries from local charities and other good causes, and almost 6,000 unique votes from members of the public. The winner was selected by a panel of judges from a shortlist of ten entrants who attracted the most public votes. Now in its second year, the ‘Brand the Bus!’ competition opened to entrants again in June 2019.
New Science Transit Shuttle launched
Towards the end of FY 2018-19 we won the contract to launch the Thames Travel Science Transit Shuttle services, connecting Oxford and key employment sites, facilitating collaboration in research and enabling Oxford University to access the cutting-edge scientific infrastructure at Harwell including Europe’s largest synchrotron.
In order to do so, we invested £1 million in a new fleet of six ultra-low emission (Euro 6) vehicles.
We expanded our award-winning PickMeUp on-demand, ride-sharing minibus services this year, with investment in additional vehicles bringing the fleet total to 11, and expanding the travel zone in response to customer feedback to include popular Jericho and Summertown destinations.
The hours of operation have also extended, enabling passengers to use the service until 23:00 hrs weekdays, and mid-night on Saturdays.
The improvements have been well-received and we have seen increased riders and associated revenue.
This year, Oxford Bus Company has become the first UK bus operator to use new technology to make it easier for passengers to be reunited with their lost belongings. We have partnered with NotLost, an innovative lost property software supplier.
The new platform combines image recognition and powerful search functionality with a simple, intuitive interface. It enables Oxford Bus Company to digitally log misplaced items quickly and match them to the rightful owner. The NotLost online tool enables customers to log a notification of a lost item and the system will suggest matches at the click of a button. Customers can then request the lost item be posted to them from within the system.
Prior to implimentation of the new software, lost property enquiries were the biggest reason for people telephoning Oxford Bus Company. 2,800 items were lost in 2018 with just under 1,000 items left unclaimed (which were donated to local charities or disposed of safely).
Two new services on the road
At Carousel, we have created the new route 8/X8 ‘Cressex Connect’ service, linking High Wycombe Coachway to Cressex Business Park along with the rail station and town centre.
The new service started on Monday 29th July and has further increased our market share in High Wycombe.
Buckinghamshire County Council have confirmed they will continue to provide funding to encourage workers at the Business Park, who are challenged by limited parking, or those arriving on coach services (such as our 737 route) to try the new links. These customers benefit from free parking and travel from the Coachway.
At Thames Travel, from Monday 9th September, we introduced a new weekday commuter service 45 between Abingdon and the Culham Science Centre.
From launch, this service provides vital connectivity to this growing employment site, with three journeys in the morning peak and three in the evening.