Newport Bus has had its problems over the last couple of years. A change of managing director following a bust up with service 30 Newport-Cardiff partners Cardiff Bus, a new image and marketing campaign have seen an additional 80,000 passengers on board in 2011—and this in spite of a somewhat recession-hit town centre. Mind you, I calculate this to be just a one per cent increase which, if true, is less of a headline than 80,000, especially given the low base of 2010.
As a way of thanking its passengers, Newport Bus will operate completely free of charge on Christmas Eve, sacrificing up to £20,000 in revenue. This year, everyone’s predicting a more lively than usual 24th December, as shoppers play chicken with larger stores awaiting real last minute bargains. It’s a brave operator that can afford such a luxury. It’s produced a promotional video featuring a contravision ALX400 in something of an On the Buses style, but without the innuendo or shouting. One of the girls even looks a little like Olive—but with an engaging smile.
Is Newport’s an unprecedented move? Not exactly, because it also operated free of charge on Christmas and New Year’s Eve in 2009 (but not during 2010). Like Saturday’s free buses, the 2009 campaign was to offer a thank you to customers and, in 2009, to encourage responsible drinking.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, among other positive changes, Newport Bus launched the new X25 between Monmouth and Newport, the first limited stop service between the two. Prior to that, services had been (and continue to be) stoppers. This is quite a commitment, requiring a vehicle across the peak for fairly well-off parts of south Wales (Monmouth, Raglan, Usk).
Newport Bus is also joining other operators in featuring the cost of fuelling your car. No gimmicks such as calculators featuring insurance costs and parking here, though, but a straightforward web page showing savings on fuel over small, medium and large cars travelling daily to Cardiff.