Arriva Southern Counties is adding two Alexander Dennis (ADL) Enviro400 double-decks to the Sapphire fleet at its Northfleet, Kent depot following successful passenger growth since one of its key routes was treated to a Sapphire upgrade last October.
Demand for Service 480/490 which provides links across the Kent Thameside area from Gravesend to Dartford has grown since 11 Wrightbus StreetLite DF micro-hybrid buses to full Sapphire specification replaced conventional VDL single-deckers. The company is now adding the double-decks to the service to offer more capacity. It will also be seeking customer comments about the use of double-deck buses on the route for the first time in many years.
Arriva Marketing Manager Richard Lewis said: “We have found that demand for our two Sapphire services, the 480/490 in Kent Thameside and the 101 between Maidstone and the Medway Towns, has significantly increased once people find out about the extra features that Sapphire offers to improve their journey experience, such as free WiFi and power points for charging phones and tablets..
“We have just added another six brand-new Sapphire Enviro400s to work the 101, joining six similar buses that were new last September, and between them representing an investment of £2.4m. This has allowed us to cascade an equal number of fully-refurbished Enviro400s that made up half of the original 101 fleet and we are trialling two of them on the 480 and 490 from Monday (April 20) to relieve capacity issues at busy times.
“As most of our operation in the Kent Thameside area is run by single-deckers we are also taking the opportunity, by using social media and printed forms on the buses, to see what our customers think of the Sapphire double-deckers.”