Five-star luxury ‘Sky Class’ buses for Witchway express hailed as the key to access skilled jobs and economic recovery
A £3.8 million investment by North of England bus operator Transdev in premium ‘Sky Class’ buses for its key link between East Lancashire and Manchester is being hailed as ‘hugely significant’ for the region’s recovery beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
East Lancashire’s political leaders say the blend of five-star features, ultra-low emissions and a warm welcome from a hand-picked driving team makes the new Witchway buses a prized regeneration asset as the Red Rose County looks to begin rebuilding its economy in 2021.
An all-new fleet of 14 stunning double-deck vehicles, built in Britain to Transdev’s all-new ‘Sky Class’ specification, entered service a month ago on the operator’s Witchway express service between Burnley, Rawtenstall and Manchester.
Despite the current Government restrictions on non-essential travel, East Lancashire’s leading politicians are optimistic that the investment will pay dividends when customers are able to return, many for the first time since the new buses were launched.
Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham said: “I’m delighted to see this major investment by Transdev – local transport connections have such an important role to play in levelling up, across not only Burnley and Padiham but the whole county of Lancashire.
“Our daily journeys for work or leisure are about so much more than just getting from A to B – they are the key to accessing skilled jobs and opportunities, boosting local businesses and unlocking economic growth, and that’s particularly the case for this service linking Burnley with Manchester.
“This investment means travel on a bus fit for the 21st century, providing not only a much higher level of comfort but also the connectivity needed to allow people to work whilst travelling – which is more important now than ever. This level of investment in the future of our public transport network will have a transformational impact for those who use it.”
Transdev’s decision to invest in the new buses during the current pandemic is also being welcomed by Alyson Barnes, Leader of Rossendale Council, who said: “I was delighted to preview one of the new buses before they entered service.
“These new buses have WiFi, phone charging and USB power points at every seat, but the thing I liked best was the double-glazed windows upstairs – that means no more wet coats, and clear windows to enjoy the wonderful views of East Lancashire.”
Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis describes our Witchway buses as the highest specification they’ve ever been asked to build, and that was our vision from the outset. We believe our unique ‘Sky Class’ specification will attract people to switch from the car and train, by creating buses people are proud to be seen on.
“One month on from their launch, the customer reaction to these game-changing new buses has been amazing. We believe the bus has a key role to play regenerating Lancashire’s economy – that’s why we’re investing now to build buses back better.”
The new Witchway buses are expected to cover one million miles every year and are driven and maintained by a team of 120 colleagues at The Burnley Bus Company’s Queensgate depot.