With the Cardiff controversy still fresh in the industry’s mind and the colourful Clayton Jones contemplating a crack at Cardiff Bus (or so he says)—one and the same who recently lost his Cardiff council school transport contracts*—how does Cardiff Bus rate?
Cardiff’s bus service is comprehensive, attractive and offers good value for money. That’s the simple conclusion.
Plenty of investment gives a modern fleet image. With the final cull in 2007 of its remaining Lynxes, 1990s Metrorider minibuses, step Darts and Ailsa double decks, Cardiff Bus is now 100 per cent low floor. This includes a number of 2007/08 Scania N270UD4/East Lancs Olympus double decks. These were a chancy buy as the ageing Ailsas they replaced principally catered only for school movements. Cardiff Bus nevertheless felt the future payback from young people in replacing the Ailsas was worth it.
The newest vehicles are these Scania/Wrightbus SolarsThe fleet’s attractive, too. The Impression-able latest version of the now traditional dour green has a bright orange twist that does more than hark back to the flaming 1970s. The striking & deliberate colour clash is redolent of the short-lived Crosville privatisation livery of 1986.
Oldish and newest livery versions
It’s a few years since Cardiff Bus went through the route regenerative process. The results are understandable, high frequency timetables, mostly operated commercially—even with a social dividend. Last summer, the Cardiff Bus senior management (including fresh faces to the bus industry) re-launched its marketing effort by providing a single, comprehensive, well laid out, Stenning A4 timetable. There are many images within of people flinging their arms in the air, as you would expect from Best Impressions. It replaced a myriad of indifferent leaflets. Not surprisingly, there’s a new, most attractive website to complement the hard copy. Or is it the other way round?
The comprehensive timetable booklet was a good investment and, one year on, there’ve been few amendments. All that’s really changed is the introduction of an easy to understand flat fare system. All fares are now £1.50. Short hops are 30p more expensive, though the longer Cardiff urban area journeys are 10p cheaper. Alternatively, a £3 day ticket gives a return or unlimited travel. There’s a useful £7 2+3 family ticket, cheaper than a half-day’s parking in the most expensive city centre shoppers’ car park.
With its monuments, iconic buildings, bay development and stadium, these days Cardiff has the feel of a capital city (even down to the relentless redevelopment). From 2006, Cardiff Bus’ 19 Scania OmniCity bendy buses added to this European atmosphere, four of which link the city with the redeveloped Cardiff Bay, where once you had to manage on a crowded Dart. The investment continued with rigid OmniCities, the aforementioned double deck Olympuses and, in November 2008, Cardiff Bus took seven 12m Scania K230UB/Wrightbus Solar single decks.
It’s reported that between the devolved government and council, a phenomenal £30mil will shortly be pumped into Cardiff as Wales’ first so-called sustainable travel town.
Then again, Cardiff is a capital city and focus for in-commuting, government, shopping and higher education for much if not all of south Wales. There is some concern that the funding will result in a more peripheral bus service with passengers encouraged to change to get to the city’s heart. If this is indeed the case, perhaps there will be a roll for Clayton Jones—we can’t see Jones providing a service other than to where people actually want to go.
New double deck Olympuses were an unusual though pleasing purchase* One of Clayton Jones’ four school transport taxi routes apparently arrived at a school without a rear window. A driver was reported as unlicensed for taxi work.