Friday, 27 January 2012

Pastel Soft Sell

I doubt few people will shed a tear at the passing of First’s so-call Barbie livery. It’s fairly universally unloved, even among many of its managers… and certainly among enthusiasts. IMO, though, at least one variant had its merits, but that’s another story. Leon Daniels, when a First UK Bus director, nevertheless acted as an apologist for Barbie on this very blog.

Perhaps not the best picture but this is the First Leeds launch vehicle. It comes c/o Passenger Transport. All other shots are, of course, representative of the current style (in case you needed reminding!)

But First didn’t have enthusiasts in mind when yesterday it unveiled its new identity. There’s one reason and one reason only why an operator goes to the trouble and expense of a redesign and that’s part of a general rebranding exercise that will improve the bottom line. There is no other motivation.

So, the new livery comes as part of a rebranding that, among other things, sees “Better journeys for life”, a new brand promise. This is the culmination to date of the work that Giles Fearnley’s doing to reposition First. Some of the soul searching’s complete and there’s even been some remarkable admissions as regards past behaviour. Now, we are seeing something concrete.

The livery is the most visible part of this. But does it work?
  • Does the approach seem far too conservative when you compare it with some of the designs currently around? I guess that the livery doesn’t have to be outrageous but it needs to catch the eye. Does this one?

  • Stylistically, the livery seems to be rooted firmly in the 1980s. Some might argue that sharp angles sweeping up towards the rear are a little last century.

  • Lilacs in particular seem to have a soothing effect but, especially against a white or whitish background, can also seem too restrained, pallid or neutral. Might First have been braver? Is this a missed opportunity?
Still, it’s good to hear that there’ll be room on board, in defined external areas of the vehicle, for local identities, even if the core design is corporate in nature. Buses are nothing if not local and it’s good that a Big Three operator recognises (or reinvents) this. Remember, brand repositioning is about profit and nothing else so First is trumpeting that local is best. First may be the biggest provider but it isn’t universal and therefore it doesn’t need a nationally recognisable brand but a locally familiar one that can identify with each of the locations in which it operates. First’s new brand ethos means that it is trying to work more closely with all stakeholders and this, again, is something that’s local in nature.

Local it may be but is it a mistake to stay with the “First” overall brand? OK, so the display vehicle says “First Leeds” even though it retains the “f”. Some might argue that the First brand is a little tarnished. This is the problem with a national brand when applied universally, as it is now, when parts of it become tainted.

So, First’s livery…weak and watery; or a sign of a clear change of direction?

85 comments:

Anonymous said...

To carry on the pantomime trend of at least one recent blog post, the new look seems like the Widow Twankey's other son… Wishy Washy.

Anonymous said...

Is that it???

Oh well, we can only hope that there will be another one along shortly....

Anonymous said...

Following the Leeds example, we'll presumably get "FirstBath" not too far from an early bath, is it?

Tim Burns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Burns said...

Have to say this is underwhelming. When you like at the crispness of the Stagecoach design, or the stand-outness of most Go Ahead liveries, this is almost looking like a vintage vehicle.

Local identity is all very good but I look forward to them squeezing the name of my local First subsidiary, "Scotland East" in the space the template allows.

Reading the article on Passenger Transport, I see First have a five year repaint cycle: hmmm. My observation of First here in Edinburgh is that there are many elderly vehicles that do not look like they have been repainted since leaving the manufacturer.

I shall watch with interest if this makes a difference to the competition with the premium local operator, Lothian. Based on the little I have seen so far, I doubt it somehow. So I agree, this is looking like a definitely wasted opportunity so far.

Anonymous said...

Missed opportunity, unimpressive and does not break away from the broken brand and poor perception that First have. I used to have to rely on first to get to work. Now I cycle and know I will never be left cold and lonely at the side of the road. Far to little to late. I wish they would just give up!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear - this is worse than Barbie. It's patently not a Stenning creation. It'snot even a design. It lacks any cohesion, integrety and grace.

Mel Tisdall said...

Oh dear. One can only wonder why they bothered. Very disappointing indeed; in fact the existing livery is preferable to this one. The sharp angles of the 'swoops' and the dull typeface make it look very dated.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly for something created in Leeds the form matches the Bradford Traveller livery of early FirstBus days.
It is very subtle, compared to the pink against white of the old scheme.

JimmyMac said...

I prefer the current livery - especially when there's a splash of colour in the shape of the (former) Overground colours that I see every day in Bolton (8, 36, 37). Shame the localised livery couldn't have been applied in such a fashion.

This looks like that horrible Barbie 2 variant with the fade-in vinyls. I wonder what a bus would look like in the Transpennine Express-style livery...?

Anonymous said...

Pitiful and third-rate; reinforces First's reputation as the dregs of corporate transport.

Barbie wasn't particularly bad other than that the colours were totally wrong; it could easily have been adapted for local markets (say for Leeds, cream replaces dirty white, green replaces blue, light green replaces pink).

Eric said...

"posted by busing at 06:59 on 27-Jan-2012"

I had to double check it isn't April 1st! That's pretty dreadful in my opinion and it's a worry that people are paid large amounts of money to come up with such an unimaginative, poor design.

Neil said...

Pig-ugly, IMO.

They need to get rid of:-
1. Purple-pink-puke
2. Nasty purple interiors (the railway deep blue one is far nicer, they should adopt that for bus as well).
3. Pink (f)s (I note that it has got larger, not smaller, on this livery)
4. Possibly even the First(f) branding altogether.

Altogether a poor effort. 1/10. See me after school.

Neil

Neil said...

"Barbie wasn't particularly bad other than that the colours were totally wrong; it could easily have been adapted for local markets (say for Leeds, cream replaces dirty white, green replaces blue, light green replaces pink)."

That would have been worth a try, yes. First used to work like that, and the Stagecoach livery does well at being adapted into different colours while still keeping the corporate identity intact.

But lose First(f).

Neil said...

As others have stated, the "dynamic lines" railway livery might have been worth a go as well. That's rather attractive.

Ben said...

I can only echo the above comments regarding the new First livery, it really does look uninspiring and insipid.

Mention has been made of First's 'Dynamic Lines' livery and whether this could in some way be transferred to their bus operations. Interestingly First Devon and Cornwall seem to have just done that for their Truronian coaching arm.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29197902@N06/6720586295/

Not sure if this is to be a new corporate coaching livery, but in my opinion is a vast improvement in the previous all white with willow leaf coach scheme and certainly better than the new Leeds bus scheme.

Anonymous said...

A huge disappointment. Why bother?

Anonymous said...

Expectations dashed! Where's the pro-active PR to support the change? Where's the reasoning behind the choice of design? Surely, but surely the lack of any of this means the livery shown is just one of a numberof designs, and an announcement is due. Surely!

Tim Burns said...

@Ben 1107

Now that is what I call a good livery! Why oh why could they not have done something similar for the buses?

*wailing and gnashing of teeth*

Luke said...

I just hope the regions take the opportunity of being able to vary the livery based on the same template and decide to alter the colours and so on.

Neil said...

The First one looks a nasty copy of the original (and also nasty) trial Northern Rail livery:-

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5176/5481693317_658c47b021_z.jpg

Dare I suggest they're going for base white as it's cheaper?

The new one:-

http://www.lostrailwayswestyorkshire.co.uk/images/donations/Paul%20Holroyd/Multiple%20Unit/04-05-09/S8001684.jpg

is much nicer.

Personally, I think they should adopt a variant of that coach livery, it looks stunning, just as it does on a rail application. The branding could, if they insist on keeping the (f), be something like:-

Leeds (f)
[operated by FirstGroup] (small font).

Neil

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

Sorry try again.

Northern livery (original, nasty):-

http://cdn2.wn.com/pd/ed/1a/
9fa3da70cc6deca6ca6df17dd3db_grande.jpg

Sorry about CR in URL, you lose half of it otherwise.

Neil

Anonymous said...

The similarities with the Northern Rail trial livery is startling!

How is 'base white' cheaper? Its still a tin of paint and still requires the same amount to cover a square metre!

I understand this livery was designed by committee - always a dangerous thing as you end up with something acceptable to everyone but loved by no one. Oh well at least it breaks up the monotony of the gradual Stenningisation of the industry.

Oh and I quite like the coach livery, but I understand that is another Stenning creation!

WWH44L said...

1980s throwback, straight lines on modern buses simply does not work. Overall base colour should have been used with another to enhance the curves. How small is the font going to have to been for say Manchester or Southampton etc.. A huge, huge disapointment and wated opportunity. Look at the simplicity of the recent Transdev liveries in Lancashire and Yorkshire, stunning with just two bright colours that fit the shape of modern vehicles.

Anonymous said...

I doubt many passenger will even notice the difference and the stripes across the top of the destination blind just look wrong on the older decker. Also the fact it's different on both sides is strange too. Even the new stuff of the right side is boring and the straight lines are more like the old Stagecoach livery before it got swooshised! Personally I think the buses should have been given a livery similar to that used by First Great Western complete with the fGW style lists of possible destinations specific to the region the bus is from.

Neil said...

"How is 'base white' cheaper? Its still a tin of paint and still requires the same amount to cover a square metre!"

New buses often come in white, no?

Then again I suppose First is big enough to insist they come in a different colour instead.

Anonymous said...

"New buses often come in white, no?"

Only if your buying from the dealer which First does not. From the manufacturer the bus can come in any base colour you want, within reason.

Ray Stenning said...

" . . . gradual Stenningisation of the industry."

" . . . quite like the coach livery, but I understand that is another Stenning creation!"

"but" and exclamation mark?

Put all those remarks together and it would seem someone doesn't like me but begrudgingly might like some of what I do. What a conundrum.

Hmm - interesting bit of psychology there

Anonymous said...

You're reading too much into it Ray, like your work but recent years its become quite predictable to the point I can spot one of your creations a mile off without the inside knowledge beforehand of who the designer was and often before I've ascertained who the operator is. Long time since you've done anything that has made me think 'wow love it' for its originality.

I do however wish you had been given the opportunity to revise Barbie, a Stenning swirl is more attractive to the eye than a committee angular line ;)

Anonymous said...

Don't worry - I'm a huge Stenning fan!

Ray Stenning said...

I can recognise an aria by Puccini from just a few bars, and a Hawksmoor building from a quick glance. Doesn't make them any less good!

And for all you know there could well have been things I've designed that you have said "wow", and simply didn't know I'd designed them, eh? It has been known.

yorkshireman said...

Oh dear.

Route One mag have put several different views of the launch vehicle on their Facebook page.

Like Alex Hornby has commented on that page - why would you launch a new livery complete with an exterior advert? Very poor effort.

Anonymous said...

The new livery looks very similar to an old Keighley & District livery...
http://transport-illustrated.blogspot.com/2010/11/keighley-harrogate-york-1995.html

A dynamic lines livery would look good in a similar style to Capital Connect livery with buildings - perhaps use prominent local landmarks of the operational area to give the regional identity.

Anonymous said...

Ghastly and a total waste of time and effort.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear! Can, should and must do better. Dated, weak, boring. Barbie is better than this!

Luke said...

Anon @ 19:15 - possibly to cover up the daft looking stripe application under the advert and over the frame - click to see photo of what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a bit underwhelming, but having seen a selection of larger photos, I do actually quite like it.

I think it will grow on people.

Michael Bennett said...

It seems the livery has gained the universal dislike it deserves. It’s not different enough to even be noticed by the public, let alone persuade them things have changed.

Putting LEEDS in upper case italic is very strange. Apart from looking odd and dated, it doesn’t in any way work with the other fleet name above door, nor the f logo.

To me it really just looks like it’s the old livery, but downgraded. I only hope they do some market studies to determine what impact it has before going any further.

plcd1 said...

I'm not sure why they bothered if this is all they have achieved. I wonder if passengers will notice and if they do will they care?

If this is supposed to generate extra revenue I simply don't see how. Given what people complain about wrt to First Bus surely money should be spent on making services reliable, interiors clean and fixing defects and dents? Better services and value for money probably wouldn't go amiss either.

Anonymous said...

Ray my dear your taking it all out of context, I haven't said any of your work wasn't good, I am a fan of your work, just it's become somewhat predictable.

And no there is nothing that has made me go wow recently, I make a point of finding out who the creative agency is when a piece of work has generated that reaction.

Ray Stenning said...

I'd better shut up then, hadn't I!

Everyone has been talking about the First livery. Is it a livery or merely a paint scheme? - now there's a thought.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion all buses should be painted red

Anonymous said...

Just noticed the road marking on the photo of the offside is .... 'Disabled parking' - pretty apt!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments about design by committee - there's some imagination here, some blandness, put it all together and it's a huge mess.

I actually love the design of the main "LEEDS" text - that is different and imaginative, but is there any other part of the design that cross references to it - no.

Anonymous said...

The version of Barbie referred to the subsequent post was "Rail Link" and was used on X39 Bath-Bristol, 376/7 Wells - Bristol and 7/8 Temple Meads - Clifton (on Dart SLFs). It was applied when the Great Western rail franchise was being contested (just like now!) as part of the "we can offer integrated transport" stance. I'm sure others will know, but I think the Plymouth station/Centre/Elburton service was also given Rail Link livery.

Whilst First allowed its new "livery" to escape yesterday I was at the launch of Stagecoach West's new branding for the route 55 - huge photo montages of the towns along the route covering the whole white area of the bus side, with the strap line "Route 55, There's so much more to see in...". Very eye catching, very appreciated by the relevant local politicians, and proving yet again that Stagecoach swirls seem to be capable of endless variation yet maintain the corporate image.

Neil said...

Regarding white liveries the Stagecoach one is predominantly white, and remains one of my favourites. (The white version looks nicer than the other rail versions to me - though I like the idea of different variants for different classes of train service).

Not a fan of the "coach Barbie" livery - but I stick with the idea that I *really* like that coach Dynamic Lines one. Though the Leeds one looks less washed-out in today's photo. Still crap, though.

Neil

Neil said...

Talking of that batch of "rail Barbie" buses, weren't those the ones that were ordered new for the West Coast Main Line rail replacement for First North Western, and thus were in the then rail livery? Presumably it wasn't thought worth a repaint before moving them on to other things.

ISTR they had a rather fetching red-seated interior rather than the usual washed-out mucky purple.

Anonymous said...

Dark Blue and other darker colours are actually just as difficult to keep clean as white!

Anonymous said...

I guess if AH doesn't like it, then it must be good lol ;)

Personally, I think it has some potential to be very good for First, they do need a new image, and perhaps local operating companies will be able to specify the colour combinations.

Blue/Red/White for Devon & Cornwall, green/cream for Somerset & Avon, red/cream for South Wales and so on.

Stagecoach's corporate livery is totally undermined in the South/South East by pointless marketing nonsense that detracts from the image and dilutes the corporate brand.

In fact such OTT marketing can make a service relaunch worse, when operating staff have an attitude that is determined to make a new timetable not work, thus undermining the investment. Such activity just acts as a smokescreen to deflect attentions from the poor standards of service.

Anonymous said...

@ Neil
No they were ordered purposely for FSA in a dual purpose spec. The vehicles you mentioned are still up north somewhere IIRC.

Dominic said...

Load of rubbish, but, hey, it's First, so it's only to be expected, really.

1276 busman said...

I would also agree that the new livery has been designed by committee, it almost looks like the result of a marketing exercise from 'The Apprentice' or something an upcoming post deregulation era operator might have produced 'in house' to try and stand out int he late 80s. I also fail to see how this will have the scalability to work on the smaller vehicles in the fleet.
Glasgow also used the coach derived livery for express services, including the original 'Airlink' service, and it suited the variety of types it was applied to, although I have always thought it would be better with a brighter shade of white, not one that was half to cream. As far as public perception goes I would suggest that keeping the livery/scheme tidy and presentable on the vehicle whilst in service is probably more important than the actual livery/scheme itself.

Anonymous said...

Seems Sir Giles needs to move on some his conservative underlings.They still do not appear to recognize the problems.ONE DESPAIRS REALLY.Dont like the boring standard Stagecoach livery either.Time for a change.

Anonymous said...

I certainly don't agree that Stagecoach should also change their livery - it's bright, cheerful and highly appropriate to their role as urban buses.

I've also never understood how they always keep them so clean, externally and internally - is this just down to setting standards of excellence for such basic, but very important, tasks ?

Stevie D said...

I wasn't keen on the 'coach-style' Barbie variant, and the one they applied to a lot of older buses with a big pink fade all the way up the side was horrible, but I've always quite liked the basic Barbie.

Maybe it's because for me it signified the shift from the knackered old green and cream buses that had been inherited from Rider York (and that's not to knock the buses per se, National 2s were fine machines, but at 20+ years old they were long overdue for replacement) to the brand-new Volvo fleet that saw Barbie go widespread in York. While it's not as striking or colourful as Arriva, Stagecoach or Best Impressions, it's tidy and clean and inoffensive.

Sure, it works better on some bodies than others. I particularly like it on any standard Wright Renown, Crusader or Eclipse 1 (although I'm less keen on the Eclipse 2 with the big white gap at the front), but it was at its best on the Plaxton President, which was always a handsome design.

I can't say I'm overjoyed with the new design - I agree that it looks dated, and that kind of "only just off-white" pastel base is tacky, and redolent of yesteryear. The base colour either needs to be white or a strong or darker colour.

If only they could have done something as classy as they have on their trains!

Anonymous said...

Awful, just awful. As several other people have commented, it just shouts 1985.

I've never thought that Barbe 1 was a bad livery, provided it was kept clean and perhaps if First didn't attach quite so many stickers and messages all over it (and most importantly, providing it wasn't 'modified' as Southampton paintshop insists on doing with vats of matt black).

However, the best First livery IMO was London red with the yellow and grey (silver?) stripes, I'd have been happy to see that go national.

If the Truronian coach livery can go to two shades of blue, why on earth does the bus livery need to use such insipid colours as is being proposed... absolutely bemusing!

Neil said...

"I've never thought that Barbe 1 was a bad livery, provided it was kept clean"

Barbie 1 is a relatively timeless livery - as it's quite basic it still looks modern even about 12 years after I first saw it (I think it's late-90s, right?)

But Dynamic Lines is far nicer - and that Leeds one is just plain rubbish.

The colours could grow on me, but the actual livery is horrid.

Neil

Neil said...

First seem to have a history of this sort of thing.

Remember the awful fGW "Flying Fag Packet"? There was that, then Rail Barbie, before they got it right the third time with Dynamic Lines.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:British_Rail_Mark_3A_SLEP_10590_at_Penzane.JPG

Unfortunately, though, one of the Swiss private railways seems to have started using something similar...

http://www.swisstransportnews.com/USERIMAGES/LHB_8062.JPG

Neil

Alex Hornby said...

First will have their reasons for this creation. If it realises what they set out to achieve, then they'll be happy.

What I said, for the benefit of 'Anon (obviously!) @1329', over at R1 facebook was that I couldn't understand why you would choose to say to the media "hey, here's our great new brand image" and actually have a great big advert for a brand that bears no obvious relationship to travelling by bus - Sky - across it (this actually promotes staying at home?!). Would any other retailer, launching a new brand image, do the same thing?

But, I do hope the new approach works for First. The whole industry should. If First does improve their reputation (and having Giles Fearnley on side suggests they should) and raises the bar, then there's an impetus for us all to take ourselves to the next level too.

Oh, and finally, to those who continue to do so, don't make things personal and stop slagging Ray off. You think his liveries are the same? Trust me, your 'same, boring' comments are much, much more annoying and certainly less admirable and productive.

Anonymous said...

Alex, the reason for the Sky ad may be that if it wasn't there, it would be obvious that the lilac diagonal lines don't actually meet up. All a bid odd really!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Alex makes a bit more sense now - maybe the idea from First of having the ad was to show a normal 'in service' bus. Or perhaps no one thought to take it off?

Totally agree with the comment about sky - since when did you go to McDonalds and see adverts for Burger King? I guess this is but one reason why TB doesn't take adverts on the main fleet.

I feel that First have some real potential to grow their business, I hope they succeed with what they are trying to achieve, it'd be a great thing if they were thought of as a company that people wanted to work for and be associated with.

I'm an admirer of what Ray Stenning
has achieved with his work and know a bit of how it works behind the scenes. Let's face it, anything that can encourage people onto buses is a good thing. The Damory two tone blue livery is lovely for example, just a terrible shame it isn't applied across the fleet.

As regards getting personal, wasn't it some of the GSC fan club who started that off?

Anonymous said...

A challenge for Ray, then - what would you do? The brief is:

* to revitalise a weary and unpopular brand
* to permit local variation
* to evoke stability and tradition as well as innovation
* while ensuring flexibility, cost-effectiveness etc.

Would be very interested to see...

Ray Stenning said...

OK, Mr, we've done it before and we can do it again. So what's your budget for this professional work? I hope it's sufficient, otherwise it's money wasted.

But remember, the product has to be right in the first place. We can disguise an odd crack, even help heal some cracks, but a new brand and livery has to be a reflection of - and communicate the character of - the real product.

Also, if this hypothetical (?) brand is unpopular and weary, what are you doing about staff attitudes and morale, staff training, your PR machine?

Have you got the will of your managers, buy-in from your stakeholders?

It's one hell of a lot more than a new lick of paint and some good publicity. We can't make a silk purse out of sow's ear.

Anonymous said...

I think, since it's First, that you'd be paid in washers - but if you squinted really, really hard, they'd look like gold pieces sooner or later.

Daddysgadgets said...

Simplicity can often be very effective if done properly. Black & White Motorways had an instantly recognisable livery, yet when the black was taken away and red and blue lettering added by National it just did not work.
An effective example of simplicity today is Epsom Coaches which exudes the company philosophy - quality.

David said...

I don't get the animosity against Ray Stenning. If you turn up to Ray's office with a big sack of cash then you're there for one thing: a Best Impressions livery design. If you didn't want a Stenning you wouldn't give your money to Stenning.

Stenning's stuff can often be a bit "samey"- he has a style- but that's like saying Hockney is a bit samey.

I think First have gone and shown that this livery designing lark is not as easy as Stenning makes it look.

Ray Stenning said...

A big sack of cash? I don't think so, sweetheart!

A large cheque book or preferably pay by BACS. We are professionals here and we pay our taxes.

And you're right, David. It isn't easy. It takes experience, flair, aptitude, knowledge, wisdom,dedication, skill and shed loads of passion.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how in previous blog posts about liveries, everyone moans that liveries are all too "swoopy" and mourn the loss of straight lines, and that Ray Stenning's designs are "too samey" (forgetting that they're consistently good, too).

As soon as straight lines turn up and there's no swoops, everyone hates it because it's First - you know, that company that doesn't ever do anything right, ever.

It must be really demoralising working your socks off at First, only for everyone to hate the operation because of the parent group.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is,however there is only one thing worse than being talked about....

Neil said...

"Perhaps it is,however there is only one thing worse than being talked about...."

Quite. A certain Michael O'Leary is very much aware of that.

Does he, for example, ever intend to charge passengers for having a slash? I rather doubt it.

Has he got a load of publicity for his cheapo airline from it (including, indeed, this post)? Of course he has.

Neil

RC169 said...

Neil said...

"Does he, for example, ever intend to charge passengers for having a slash? I rather doubt it."

I wonder. He seems quite happy to charge for the use of wheelchairs:-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1453112/Ryanair-adds-50p-levy-after-losing-wheelchair-battle.html

Darryl1976 said...

@Anon on the 28th at 13:29:

"Stagecoach's corporate livery is totally undermined in the South/South East by pointless marketing nonsense that detracts from the image and dilutes the corporate brand."

It's partly the 'pointless marketing nonsense' that's contributed to the significant growth in patronage on some Stagecoach routes in the South East. The East Kent fleet has gone from 240 vehicles to over 300 in ten years, thanks to improved frequencies and better marketing.

Neil said...

"I wonder. He seems quite happy to charge for the use of wheelchairs"

That was because those incur him a specific, and knowing airports probably inflated, cost. I think all passengers sharing that cost whether they need one or not (as eventually happened) is a far better and less discriminatory idea, and I am happy to pay my share as part of the fare, but the purpose of that charge was to make an example of it.

He did mention as part of the bogs thing that he was going to remove one bog from the aircraft to reduce costs. But he could do that anyway; it'd just mean a longer queue and less, shall we say, redundancy.

Neil said...

"It's partly the 'pointless marketing nonsense' that's contributed to the significant growth in patronage on some Stagecoach routes in the South East."

Some of it does distract from the quality of the livery, though. I really don't like the recent "Bedford Bus" variant - it just looks tacky.

Neil

Anonymous said...

It'd be fair to say Stagecoach EK has grown its fleet, but that is in part due to more tenders and peak traffic growth - they move a lot of school children and the Kent Freedom scheme has been very good for them. Marketing of which is undertaken by Kent County.

OTT Marketing material (South's are even worse!) on those vehicles makes next to no difference, its the frequency growth and keenly priced weekly tickets that has drive the growth. It's the off bus effort that attracts the customers, and there has been a concerted campaign on the part of Stagecoach nationally to get more people onto their buses.

Anonymous said...

All the above said, Stagecoach's buses are bright and cheerful, inside and out (and in my experience clean too), whereas First's er..... and the new dreary First livery won't really help given that it looks like it would be better applied to municipal dustcarts.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon on 03/02/11 at 00:55
Stagecoach's modern vehicles do have a nice interior, but that looks shabby after 18 months/2 years of use, and their older standards, Alexander R Type Olympians are dreadful nasty things that encourage people to drive their cars. Damp smells, whistling turbos, continually malfunctioning Bright-Tech screens, buses that shake themselves to bits when stationary are shoved out onto 'prime' corridors alongside the new low floor deckers EK use, thus undermining any efforts to encourage new customers.
Perhaps if the directors/managers of these companies actually used their products, instead of driving around in Company cars then such dreadful rubbish would be carted off to the scrapyard where it belongs?

Anonymous said...

I don't have experience of EK but I can assure you, what you describe certainly isn't what I'm familiar with elsewhere in Stagecoach (speaking as a passenger/enthusiast).

Anonymous said...

I think it goes to show that the quality of Stagecoach's operations differ across the country. There are some very good Stagecoach operations too.

Anonymous said...

Part of East Kent's problem is that there are now so many passengers, they are wearing the interiors out very quickly compared to historic patterns). But I would acknowledge that the interiors are pretty grubby if you board after the pm school peak.

And by the way, you are quite likely to encounter the Commercial Director of East Kent on one of his buses.

Anonymous said...

I am told certain EK directors do travel on their own buses, but certain ones cling to their company cars. Perhaps they should follow the example of the Commercial Director?

Does Manchester have less wear to its interiors then? ;)

Anonymous said...

I see that "Barbie 80s" is starting to get rolled out with buses now running in Manchester too, albeit without any local branding. Is it too late to hope that this dull and uninspiring scheme will get a quick rethink?

marperd01 said...

Read somewhere on a Flickr photo that local branding doesn't come into Leeds until April, for now all buses in this livery that I've seen have the "We believe in improving our buses" tag line.

soft toys said...
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