11 new routes for Arriva’s Sapphire

In a major investment, Arriva is to roll out its Sapphire brand of premium services with 11 new routes this year. .

The first three, in Rhyl and Wigan, were launched last week using royal lookalike character actors.

Sapphire offers a first-class journey experience with at-seat power points to charge phones and laptops, free Wi-Fi, audio visual next-stop announcements and extra-comfy seating. In 2013 four pioneering routes, in Chester, Leicester, Oxford and Durham, were launched.

At Rhyl Arena a display of all 20 new ADL Enviro400 ‘deckers – a 4m investment – was visited by William and Kate royal ‘lookalikes’, local schoolchildren and Welsh Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart.

They are being used on the 10-minute interval Rhyl-Llandudno route 12.

Says Arriva Wales MD Michael Morton: “We’re confident that passengers will be delighted with the enhancements and we hope to encourage more people to join us on board.”

Arriva North West has brought the Sapphire brand to tworoutes, using 15 totally refurbished five-year-old VDL/Wrightbus Pulsar 2 single-deckers.

To mark the occasion Arriva ran a competition to give residents the opportunity to win their own regal title, presented by a HM the Queen lookalike at the launch event on Standishgate in Wigan.

The two Sapphire routes, each with 15-minute frequencies, are the Wigan-Chorley 362 and Wigan-Bolton 575.

Arriva Manchester Area MD John Rimmer says: “We’ve developed the Sapphire concept based on what our customers told us in extensive research including surveys, site visits and focus groups.

“Sapphire gives us the opportunity to improve perceptions of the bus, encourage non-users to give the bus a try and improve the journey for our existing customers.”

Picture shows route launch using royal ‘lookalike’ characters