Transdev Blazefield launched its Ribble Country brand in East Lancashire on 2 May. The network uses 18 Mellor Strata Ultra-bodied Mercedes-Benz Sprinters and it is being delivered in partnership with Lancashire County Council (LCC) via a multi-year contract award.
The operator says that the work will “transform” lower-demand bus services in the Ribble Valley. Transdev Blazefield’s existing range of tickets will be accepted, permitting integrated travel via its wider network across Lancashire and into Greater Manchester.
Says LCC Public Transport Manager Andrew Varley (pictured, right): “The Ribble Country-branded services represent a real improvement to the bus network in the area, particularly for many rural communities and towns that will see more frequent, reliable buses and new weekend services in some areas.
“This will help to ensure that more passengers have the chance to access education and employment opportunities and to reach essential services.
“Working with Transdev, our aim is to provide good transport links, especially in rural areas where many people rely on bus services. These new vehicles are accessible, comfortable and convenient. I hope that people will make good use of them and give them a try as we build back patronage on all our supported services.”
The operator says that use of the Ribble Country name is deliberate to recognise the heritage of buses in Lancashire. Ribble Motor Services was formed in 1919. In its heyday it served a territory stretching from Liverpool and Manchester to Carlisle.
Transdev chose the Strata Ultra as it says the type can carry up to 30 passengers “in levels of comfort that match those of a full-sized bus.” The 18 for the Ribble Country network form part of a £2.4m order for 23 Strata Ultras from the Rochdale manufacturer. The other five are used on an LCC tendered route between Preston and Leyland.