Stagecoach East Scotland celebrated 10 years of the Express City Connect brand at the weekend.
The distinctive Express City Connect branding — representing all the coaches operating on express routes across Fife and to destinations such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee — was created in October 2007 to coincide with an investment of over £4.5million in new coaches to operate across the region at the time.
Over the past 10 years, Stagecoach has spent over £21million to upgrade the coach fleet each year, providing features such as free WiFi access, mobile device charging points, leather reclining seats, air-conditioning, and — on some coaches — a toilet on board.
The latest investment almost £2million saw six new tri-axle Plaxton Elite-bodied Volvo B11Rs introduced to the fleet earlier this month. Four of these coaches operate on the X24 route linking Fife to Glasgow Airport and the other two are used on express routes to Edinburgh where additional capacity was required.
The company is marking the occasion by creating a calendar, featuring photos of Express City Connect coaches over the past 10 years, which will be available for sale next month. Stagecoach employees have been invited to submit photos for inclusion in the calendar and all proceeds will be donated to a local charity.
Stagecoach made numerous improvements to service frequencies and provided new journey opportunities across the east of Scotland within the past 10 years. In August 2016, service X24 was revised to provide links to Glasgow Airport providing the only direct public transport link between Fife and the airport. A new express route between Perth and Edinburgh was created in November 2015, many routes were revised to serve Halbeath park-&-ride when the site was completed in November 2013 and a new route along the east coast between Aberdeen and Dundee was created in 2011.
Express City Connect journeys to Edinburgh now depart up to every 5m during peak times from Ferrytoll park-&-ride and journeys to Glasgow run every 15min from Halbeath.
The Express City Connect network has three times received the accolade of Top Express Operation at the UK Coach Awards (2015, 2016, 2017), as well as numerous commendations for the successful operation of individual routes forming the network and for marketing campaigns undertaken to promote the routes.
For the second time, the Stagecoach East Scotland marketing department has also been short-listed at the UK Bus Awards 2017 for the Sustained Marketing Excellence category, having won the bronze award in 2016, and will attend the presentation ceremony in November in the hope of picking up the gold award for 2017.
Sarah Elliott, marketing manager, Stagecoach East Scotland, says: “So many improvements have been made to our express routes over the past 10 years, from fleet upgrades to improved service frequencies, and new technology to make customer journeys the best they can be for longer distance travel across our network. With each fleet upgrade we’ve been able to maintain a recognisable brand identity for our Express City Connect coaches, providing a comfortable and consistent journey standard for our customers.”
When the Express City Connect brand was launched on 29 October 2007, Stagecoach was carrying around 72,000 passengers per week on express services. The company now carries almost 100,000 per week.