30 new coaches, along with new ticketing technology, have begun to be rolled out as Bus Éireann’s new fleet enters service, replacing almost one in five of its existing vehicles
Ireland’s national bus company has invested a total of €16 million in its commercial Expressway inter-regional coach service, the first of which entered service in Waterford on 15 June. The operator said that the new 60-seat VDL Futura coaches meet the latest Euro VI low emissions standards and will support the its commitment to reducing emissions, enabling a reduction of at least 70% in hydrocarbon emissions and at least an 88% reduction in nitrogen oxide compared to the 30 vehicles they will replace.
Bus Éireann published its first sustainability strategy last month, targeting a halving in greenhouse gas emissions and a 30% increase in passenger numbers by 2030. The operator said the investment is the most significant it has made in its commercially operated Expressway service in more than a decade, and reduces the average age of the 170-strong fleet to less than five years.
“This is a big day for Expressway after a very tough 15 months. It is very positive to be announcing such a significant investment in our fleet as the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Bus Éireann Chief Executive Officer Stephen Kent. “The virtual disappearance of some of the main markets for Expressway – Dublin Airport and third level education – as well as capacity restrictions have hit the business hard, but we are optimistic about the return to more normal operations. Having state-of-the-art vehicles is essential as this is a very competitive market and customer expectations are rising all the time. This investment demonstrates our commitment to the service, and to both improving the customer experience and to reducing our carbon footprint.”
The roll-out of the new fleet comes ahead of the anticipated increase in capacity on public transport in the coming months and the return of airport and student travel which, combined, comprise half of Expressway’s market. Bus Éireann has also invested more than €2.5m million in a new online booking system, MyExpressway, which provides both advance seat reservations and contactless payments on board. Bus Éireann Chief Commercial Officer Eleanor Farrell explained: “The indications are that full capacity will be restored on public transport as early as 5 August, subject to prevailing public health guidance. We know that many people have not been able to travel with us since March 2020, and we have been busy in the meantime. We are very excited to be offering customers such an improvement in their Expressway experience, and especially those travelling in Ireland’s most popular tourist areas. We are more than ready for the staycation season.”
The wheelchair-accessible coaches will all be in service by the end of June, and feature reclining leather seats with adjustable headrests, charging plugs, tray tables and 4G WiFi, as well as on-board toilets.