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Getting the buses into service

The first vehicle to arrive on Tyneside was VX04 MZG , numbered 80009 in the Stagecoach National numbering scheme. After a lengthy sea voyage it arrived at the Walkergate depot of Stagecoach (North East) in October 2004. After management had familiarised themselves with the vehicle the process of certification by the Department of Transport for use in the U.K. was undertaken. Several modifications were required by the authorities to enable to reach the Construction and use regulations requirements for passenger operations in the United Kingdom.
The bus, originally painted in a version of Stagecoach corporate livery was taken on a proving exercise round the various regions of the company which was completed successfully by April 2005.
Nine other buses have now arrived and received their certification to enable the service to start.
The vehicles are to operate from Walkergate depot and maintenance and driving staff have received instruction in the proper use of the vehicles.
The vehicles, which can carry up to 30 seated passengers as well as 20 standees have cost up to £250,000 each to procure. The vehicles were painted on arrival in the special livery required by the contract, 80009 was treated in a similar fashion
Project manager Keith Taylor said: "They're very quiet and smooth and I think passengers will be very impressed."

(below) No. 80009 is seen at the N.E.B.M.T. Metro Centre Rally on a public relations exercise

Alternative Fuelled Vehicles

One of the main objectives of the Quayside Transit Scheme is to provide a viable alternative to the private car for journeys to both Quaysides. Reducing levels of car traffic will assist in creating a Clear Zone for air quality and this will be reinforced by the use of new technologies to limit any emissions from the Transit Vehicles.
As a transport service the QuayLink will be the most up to date, high quality public transport system to operate in Newcastle and Gateshead. Unlike any of the buses currently operating in the region, this service will use ultra low emission hybrid diesel-electric vehicles and will be the first to use the vehicles commercially in the UK.
These low emission vehicles will be particularly beneficial in the semi-pedestrian areas of East Quayside and Gateshead Quays (Baltic Square), where they will operate in very close proximity to pedestrians and will enable an opportunity for emission and noise free transport within these areas.
Consequently, the QuayLink Scheme has been chosen as one of the nine ˜Clear Zone™ trailblazers chosen by the Department for Transport, to demonstrate how new technology can contribute to the creation of liveable cities.
Bus priority and service reliability
Fundamental to the success of the Transit Service will be the level of confidence its users have in its reliability. Whilst the service will operate in almost congestion free conditions along the Quaysides, proposals are in place to introduce provisions to negotiate known congestion hot spots in the centres of Newcastle and Gateshead. These measures will include new lengths of bus lane and the specific adjustment of traffic signals to provide priority through junctions to Transit Vehicles by a process of selective detection. In certain areas of the route, particularly around Newcastle Central Quayside, more comprehensive traffic management changes are being proposed.
It is anticipated that the majority of customers for the Transit Services will arrive in Newcastle or Gateshead on other Public Transport modes e.g. Metro, Rail, and Bus. To maximise the use of the Quayside Transit it is essential that easy interchange facilities are supported by comprehensive integrated ticketing arrangements. This will be achieved by the operator of the service offering both a simple and competitive fare structure as well as off bus ticket purchase. In addition, existing travel cards and transfares will be accepted and promotional fares for the service will be introduced for special events in the area.
Passenger Appeal
The transit vehicles will be of the latest design, with low floor access, and provided with high quality but limited seating arrangements. This layout will enable high capacity "standee" operation in the late evening period when loadings from the numerous leisure developments could be particularly great. The external design will be visually appealing and noticeably different to the general bus fleet as each vehicle will sport a distinctive livery, with this branding immediately identifying it with the Quayside Transit Service. In addition, certain dedicated and highly visible Quayside Transit stops will feature fully accessible sheltered passenger waiting areas with a high quality seating and lighting area. Real time information will be available at stops to inform passengers on next arrivals and all buses on the service will be linked directly to the North East Travel Information Service

The production vehicles specification

Following the experiences with the initial vehicle trials and after consultation with the certification officers it was decided to slightly modify the production vehicles.
the most obvious difference is in their seating capacity, this has been decreased from 28 seats to 26 with up to 20 standees. The reason is the alteration to the luggage pen arrangements and the omission of the first row of seats behind the front door. These have been replaced by singe inward facing seats.

Other alterations include the deletion of plug doors and the fitting of inward opening leaf doors to both entrances. Disabled access is now through the centre doors.

The alteration to the door arrangements has also enabled the rear view exterior mirror arrangement to be altered and the deletion of the second wiper on the nearside screen.

The original vehicle was fitted with standard Stagecoach Group cloth trim, this has now been deleted and a rather austere grey material used in lieu.

The original vehicle has been re-numbered into a new 61xxx series and all the vehicles are now painted into a yellowish green livery with QuayLink Branding. The only reference to Stagecoach is the legal lettering “Busways Travel Services” and a notice stating that the vehicle is operated by Stagecoach on the behind driver bulkhead.

Catering for the disabled

All the vehicles are fitted with a wheel chair friendly loading ramp, at the front in the prototype and at the centre exit doors on the new arrivals. Provision is made for one wheel chair on the offside of the bus adjacent to the middle doors.

The opportunity has not been taken by the Councils to make the route “low floor” and no access ramps are made at bus stops at this stage.

Shelters and signage

Newly designed shelters and signage have been installed on the route. The shelters are in clear material with an attractive etched design and have tip up “bum rests” for waiting passengers. Signage gives route information together with a route map which is oriented so that passengers who are not map literate can orientate themselves easily with the features of the quayside.
(Below)New shelter at the Guildhall, this services both routes going east along the North Quayside and South over the Swing Bridge to Gateshead. At this point, the traffic lights are fitted with a transponder to give the buses priority

Haymarket terminal

At Newcastle’s Haymarket bus station, there is a dedicated stand, which is situated at the nearest point to the ‘Metro’ station entrance.
At other locations there are usually dedicated bus stops with “Q” route numbering but not all are yet in place.

(Below) 61002 reverses out of its bay at Haymarket bus station

Gateshead terminal

At Gateshead’s re-built transport interchange, the bus uses a stand entered from the High Street which is a shared stand

(Below) 61005 waits for its passengers on launch day. All the driving staff showed good standards of service and assisted many passengers with details of the special routes being operated during the Tall Ships period. There was a distinct lack of information on the ground about the truncated service and its deviation from the standard routes.

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