The non-stop red arrow coach service between Derby and Nottingham is getting a £3 million boost with nine new luxury coaches each with free 4G wifi and tables at every seat.
The top of the range British-built coaches also feature USB charging points for phones, tablets and laptops, bike storage for cyclists, extra wide reclining leather seats and additional leg room at every seat. The new coaches will begin picking up passengers at Derby Bus Station, the QMC and Nottingham Victoria Bus Station from Sunday October 25.
It is 20 years since the first red arrow launched in 1995 to cut the hour-plus journey time between the two cities. At first, red arrows ran once an hour. By 1997 it was every half hour and the frequency doubled again to every 15 minutes in 2003 when late evening and Sunday services also began.
Free wifi put passengers online from 2010, when coaches started running beyond 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. Throughout its 20-year history red arrow has never needed a penny in public subsidy. The hugely popular red arrow service, which now runs every ten minutes at peak times between the two city centres, is the flagship route for trentbarton.
This is trentbarton’s biggest ever per vehicle investment. The bigger coaches will carry more people on a route where passenger numbers continue to grow. In 2014 there were 1.38 million red arrow passenger journeys, including the Derby to Chesterfield comet link – a 10 per cent increase on 2013. 2015 is en route to setting a new record, with more than a million journeys already this year.
Each week the red arrow fleet’s 50 drivers clock up a total of almost 25,000 miles on the road. Tom Morgan, director of service delivery at trentbarton, said: “£3 million is a major investment in this vital link between the two cities, a service that is highly valued by our customers. “Customer satisfaction is already sky high – thanks to our really friendly drivers – and passengers are about to experience a whole new level of comfort and convenience.”
The only change to the red arrow timetable is the addition of extra evening coaches to satisfy a growing demand. red arrow runs until 3.30am on Friday and Saturday nights – late night coaches have risen in popularity and helped boost the night time economies in both Derby and Nottingham. The coaches on the Derby-Chesterfield leg are also being updated, with low floors and free wifi.