The talented folks at Reading Buses were very busy over the Christmas period – setting up the new Green Line operations; filling in the gaps in First’s Slough network; and adding many new buses to their fleet. One route to gain new buses was the original Premier route: the Purple 17, which runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The evolution of a revolution
The premier routes initiative revolutionised bus travel in Reading with high quality buses and a simplified network of frequent routes. 14 years on and the improvements, and growth, are still coming. The latest generation of vehicles deployed on the 17 are real corkers though – with the usual mod-cons that you’d expect from Reading and a whole host besides.
Alongside the expected features:
- ✅ Superfast free WiFi;
- ✅ USB chargers at every seat;
- ✅ Contactless & mTickets;
- ✅ Comfortable, stylish seating; and
- ✅ Luxurious interiors.
You also get:
- ✅ Retractable steel coat hooks on seat backs;
- ✅ Skylights and glazed staircase to brighten journeys;
- ✅ Tables for families and friends to enjoy the journey together; and
- ✅ Dual doors for quicker boarding and alighting.
Deliriously desirable design
Great design runs throughout these brand new buses – with the superb “orbits” (which I love!) featuring prominently alongside the updated hues of purple. The new richer shades of purple give the vehicles a more luxurious feel than the previous generation of Enviro – where the livery had started to badly fade. These buses also feature concise mega-rears which extol the virtues of the purple 17 route – advertising the low fares, high frequency and 24/7 operation of the route to entice non-bus users on board. But it’s when you step aboard the bus where you really start to see the quality touch from the Best Impressions team. You get the feeling that from floor to ceiling every detail has been painstakingly considered. Informative, gorgeously designed coving panels run the length of both floors, while the seats are upholstered in Reading’s flat-weave cloth with flashes of charcoal grey and purple leather to bring together the ensemble.
But it’s when you step aboard the bus where you really start to see the quality touch from the Best Impressions team.
A bus for everyone
It’s not just able-bodied passengers that have been considered with the new Enviro 400s – there are lots of new features for passengers who struggle with their hearing, sight or mobility. Both saloons feature high quality audio visual next stop announcements – with well designed, clear and legible displays neatly nestled into the buses. There is also a bespoke display designed specifically for wheelchair users to view – something that is seldom provided by other operators and/or manufacturers. There are two spacious wheelchair bays: which will allow two wheelchair-bound passengers to travel together for the first time. It should also alleviate the buggy battles between parents during the school run!
A greener shade of purple
The Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 Citys are equipped with low-carbon Scania CNG (compressed natural gas) engines – a fact that Reading are proudly displaying inside and out. Let’s hope these buses are more reliable than the electric hybrid Enviro’s they replace – which are having their power trains swapped out for Euro 5/6 diesel units (which are proving to be more efficient than the hybrids were). The vehicles are also fitted with lightweight Lazzerini Ethos seats – which team improved fuel consumption with style and comfort. Nifty.
Red-dy for quicker journeys
It’s not just the buses that are getting a makeover – the roads have received a lick of paint too. The entire length of route 17 will be converted to a red route. This means that the only vehicles that’ll be allowed to stop will be buses – which should cut the journey times for passengers. It’ll be interesting to see what impact this has on the 17 and whether it can be rolled out to Reading’s other bus routes, or indeed further afield.
I’m green with envy
As someone who lives in Southampton I, usually, think I’ve got it pretty good when it comes to buses – with up to 28 every hour in to the city (within a 10 minute walk from my front door), it’s easy to see why. However, I’m incredibly jealous of Reading’s residents with their high quality buses, expansive network and 24 hour operations! Let’s hope that operators up and down the country pick up on the innovative features of the purple 17.