Friday, 14 September 2007

7+1 Top Modern Liveries

Fifth in the ‘7+1’ series, here is Omnibuses2.0's quick review of seven-plus-one important UK modern bus livery styles. Feel free to add your own comments on these or other modern bus liveries we might've missed.

1. Arriva

Now nine years old and not showing any hint of age, this pleasing livery incorporates a thoroughly modern, swooping front of Cotswold stone, enhancing the rear Aqua blue/green. It blends modernity with a pleasing conservative traditionality. Seems to weather reasonably, too.

2. Badgerline

If the name was a shock, so initially was its livery. One of a multitude of adventurous post-privatisation applications, Badgerline’s striking yellow and green cut crudely across the vehicle, in a modern angular way. Nothing subtle, it nevertheless heralded a new era. Other angular designs included Midland Fox, Northumbria, North Western and Cheltenham & Gloucester. Picture here.

3. NBC ‘Stripes’

Actually a coach, not bus livery. Towards the end of its life, the National Bus Company relaxed its one-size-and-two-colour-fits-all policy to come up with a local version of its coaching livery. Designed for local expresses and dual purpose vehicles, it introduced a splash of colour into an otherwise two-dimensional world, and a simple yet trendily effective ‘venetian blind’ effect from the mid-waistband forward and down towards the front axle, a precursor of the adventurous styles just four years away.

4. Plymouth Citybus

Not quite the first, but Peter Sefton’s Plymouth Citybus and Countrybus livery of 1982 was perhaps the most significant in literally redrawing the boundaries of livery design. Not only did this increase the amount of cream, the depth under the lower- or single-deck window was kept the same to maintain a uniform appearance no matter the size or body style. A new departure in livery application. Local independent Tally Ho! was similarly minded in ignoring beading.


What do you do when you inherit 11 undertakings (even before Wigan five years later)? You rewrite the livery rule book by using orange and white. Though linear, it was a brash, bright and powerful statement of change and central planning. In its time, just as striking as the standard Manchester Mancunian bus body. Other interesting use of rare orange – Cardiff Bus.

6. Superbus

A 1970s marketing masterpiece from London Country saw local buses in Stevenage adopt an eye catching and incredibly fresh yellow and dark blue linear Superbus livery. A modern application for equally modern Metro-Scania single decks, with their curiously asymmetric windscreens.

7. Trent Barton

A dolly mixture or riot of individual liveries and styles makes Trent Barton stand out. The first and until the last 12 months practically the only operator to adopt a growth-enhancing route branding exercise, now replicated by Go North East. Who says the industry marketers have no imagination and flair?

7+1 Barbie 4

Pretty much unloved First ‘Barbie’ livery wins in what we’ve called the Barbie Four coach and long distance bus version. Featuring more of Barbie's traditional style dark purple-blue, this contemporary amalgam ensures even die hard Barbie-haters can forgive the single sweeping pink line. More here, including picture.

Arriva shot is c/o Omnibuses’ Northern Correspondent


dbg said...

I am sure you will get plenty of comments on this post!

I was at first suprised to see the Plymouth Citybus livery listed but I do see your point.
The NBC coach livery I think is the one which I do feel should be there as this was a simple scheme with many different variations yet all fitted with the corporate image.

I think my biggest disagreement has to be the Arriva livery. Its awful! Surely the Stagecoach livery deserves a place on this list in place of Arriva. both the radical design of the initial stripes livery or the more pleasing newer livery. Certainly both more deserving than Arriva.


Si said...

I love the Trent Barton livery, although the very best livery I know of is (by some margin) Brighton & Hove Buses. Modern, striking and versatile and the Metro branding works WITH their livery instead of replacing it.

Honourable mention also goes to Reading Buses although their new grey/beige scheme isn't as effective as their old brown/beige scheme.

GeneralAdam said...

The Stagecoach livery is not perfect,
but its better then the White 'n Stripes livery in the 90's. I think the best livery is the three different colours used on Park and Ride Enviro 400's in Cambridge. Stagecoach seem to have a monopoly with Alexander Dennis as they have not bought any new vehicles from other makes for the last 10 years, and the older buses here are from Cambus (NBC) or Stagecoaches' London fleet

glum said...

Stagecoach's stripey should have a mention as it was very innovative at its time, even before Badgerline, I think. Looking back at old photo's it looks quite plain now, though. How we were shocked when we first saw it, though regretful that the old styles were passing away.

My current favourite is Southern Vectis new livery. Simple, clear, effective and modern.

Anonymous said...

I think the beauty of TRent Barton is that everything is brash and bright. So I would opt for any livery out of the ordinary that is totally eye catching.

Oh and nothing with white on it.

Anonymous said...

White, yellow and blue of CHESTERFIELD

Yellow and blue of the original SOLENT BLUE LINE

Old livery with large WA for WALLACE ARNOLD

Blue and yellow of the Oxford-Gatwick AIRLINE

Blue, red and grey with that outrageous stripe across the front of NORTHUMBRIA

cogidubnus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cogidubnus said...

Is it only me that thinks all the "Best Impressions" liveries have started to look "samey"? (ducks to avoid assault by spindly-legged lycra clad middle-ager)

GeneralAdam said...

I know what you mean, they all have a 'scoop' from the back (which is only one colour) to the front (which is a different colour) Stage coach do it slightly differently as the red from the back vanishes halfway along the bus to be replaced by blue, with an orange stripe in between. Stagecoach seem to have removed their own company logo and moved it above the doors and the drivers window, and Citi or Citiplus is put in their place. The buses in Cambridge also have "Stagecoach Bus of Britain" in huge letters where the adverts used to be, does anyone know why?

Anonymous said...

Cogibdnus, you could be right. The best thing Stenning has designed recently is Classic Bus magazine.

ross said...

cogidubnus, i agree. stenning's two-tone liveries [oxford bus, carousel, southern vectis etc] are particularly samey.

Anonymous said...

How come Stenning has done all the big groups and many smaller schemes as well to much acclaim yet the First Group livery is so rubbish?

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that the Arriva livery is neither one thing or the other, not modern or traditional.

Perhaps it is time for Arriva to relaunch its livery?

I agree with the first commentator that of the big 3 Stagecoach offers the best livery. Its unique, colourful and modern.

cogidubnus said...

Looks like the Stagecoach one is really the favourite among the Big 5 rather than Arriva...

glum said...

Only its actually the Big 3, isn't it.

2 of the 5 don't have a house livery style.

busing said...

Thanks for a veritable welter of comments on ‘7+1 UK Bus Liveries’. There’s no correct answer, of course, though I’d suggest the seven plus one examples quoted are representative of interesting design.

It’s most interesting to see the view that Stagecoach’s swirls livery is a better example of a modern application than Arriva’s. Arriva’s scores because it is more established and because it manages to look modern and traditional at the same time. A comment from one person is worth thought: Arriva should relaunch, in time honoured marketing practice.

Full marks for the mention of Brighton & Hove. Traditional (ish) Brighton & Hove colours in a contemporary application with a pleasing affect.

I’m not quite sure where the old WA livery fits in.

Ray Stenning designs take a little criticism for being “samey”. Is this fair? Perhaps there really is only so much you can do with a side of a bus!

christopher said...

I hate to say this but I have never really taken to the Arriva livery, it only seems to look at home on Merseyside anyway where the PTA painted everything that awful Verona Green, Mersey-Mud-Brown and yuk yellow. However my deep dislike of Arriva might literally be a personal thing as I see the aquamarine sometimes in photographs as a light blue and not quite so bad which I believe is how it's supposed to look, but on the buses themselves I percieve it as rather a horrid green one might find on a bottle of loo-cleaner. But as for a cheerful blue I love it and a real favourite of mine is Lancashire United. In dull weather conditions Arriva buses look dreary and washed out and even worse when they have turned black fronts to that sandstone there's nothing to add contrast: No, it's just bland and boring somehow. What a pity they never took that striking livery Grey Green used on it's buses with maybe a red version for London. I'm not saying Arriva buses look terrible but for such an important operator they should come up with something crisp and more memorable. Ray Stenning came up with so many good schemes that often lasted only a few years like Kentish but this one which is a real dog seems to go on for ever. As for First's Barbie I can live with that as it is crisp and businesslike and for me it looks most at home on those former Western National buses, but still that greyness it doesn't inspire somehow. Barbie Two was a real mess and I really loathed it more than anything, and one of my claims to fame was the comment I made in Buses Magazine about how it looked as though the still wet painted buses had been turned upside down and left in the rain so the colours would run down the sides. I'm something of a traditionalist I'm afraid and on country buses I much prefer those warm apple-greens and creams once found on Southdown and echoing it, was also to be found on Badgerline and latterly Southern National. I agree with Graham that the current Stagecoach livery is bold bright and colourful and far better than Arriva or First. Even those earlier striped buses looked clean and businesslike and looked good as a strong brand on those very Staecoach Dash's and R-bodies. But I hate to say this but what warms my heart is when I'm driving over the Runcorn Bridge and see those simple bright clean red and cream buses of Halton just the way they were in the old days. They bring back fond memories of the days when buses looked like buses and not something that just looked good on the drawing-board. As with Halton a few cheery red's and creams reamain like Trent-Barton and Headlingham but it's time for bed now and like those sheep to help me sleep I'll go through the names: Southport, St.Helens, Manchester, North Western, PMT, Yorksh....

arriva hater said...

I came in to register my horror at Arriva being number 1, and am fully gratified by how many have done the same.

It is frankly bland when clean, and downright dowdy when dirty, which happens more often than stagecoach/worstbus (or again, is that the livery showing it?)

As much as it is supposed to convey corporatism, I am constantly amazed at how many times they can mess with a yellow line and a logos/horns etc - the yellow line was a supreme mistake come actual application to types, and accident repair. Also, in Medway, refurbished buses have repositioned scoops on repaint - why?

As for favourites, and here my hatred of Arriva will come clear, I give you Maidstone and District the last edition, so rudely and crudely destroyed by Arriva.

As for earlier liveries - Boro'line Maidstone, brash, bright and uniform (when applied lol) despite many a different vehicle.

Special mention goes to Metroline - given the constraints of London red rules, I thought the blue skirt and flash logo always marked a Metroline vehicle out in the crowd.

Just so no-one thinks I'm biased, worstbus is frankly too feminine, a bus will never be soft and fluffly; and Stagecoach 2 grates me for a reason I can't quantify (probably the big red rear ends covered in muck), but for corporatism, modernism and impact it works. As said already, I think stripes worked, but dated quickly.

I was always partial to Wilts and Dorset post NBC for a rural firm, and Sheffield Mainline red/yellow/black/silver for a post NBC city firm. WMT took that too far though.

Nowadays though, it must be impossible to pick a scheme which fits a Wright Eclipse, and Enviro and an ALX, but Arriva-like uniformity is definitely not the answer.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree a think Arriva's livery is very nice it is clean corporate and interesting personally i think none of the big groups have hit the nail on the head but Arriva is in my view the closest

Stagecoach's is frankly boring and has been around for too long and i think the colours are a bit in your face

First made a big mistake (Pink and Purple is what a would call it with a bit a white it looks like a bad barbie girl box)

and then there is Go-ahead there livery of Blue and Red is also boring (although some of there recent liveries are quite nice)

The there is Travel West Midlands this livery is quite nice although a preferred the Silver, Dark Blue Red stripe livery

Mal said...

I was born in Edinburgh and all the corporation buses were always immaculately turned out in the classic Edinburgh Corporation, later Lothian livery of madder and white with a gold band below the lower deck windows. Unfortunately, that has give way to the present harlequin livery which looks as if it was designed by a young child of 2! I was back in Edinburgh in June and there were no Lothian buses in the old livery. The city looked as if a big part of its identity had been taken away. Auld Reekie will never be quite the same to me again.


stop smoking weed said...

Wow! I really like the Trent Barton, Large space, smooth to drive and really awesome looking!!

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