Go North East has added 11 new Mercedes-Benz Citaros to its fleet. They have entered service on ‘Connections 4’, the Go-Ahead owned operator’s freshly re-branded M1 service connecting Houghton-le-Spring, Washington, Concord and Heworth. The vehicles have audio visual next stop announcements, free wi-fi and high back seats. They will provide a service up to every ten minutes during the day on Mondays to Saturdays, up to every 15 minutes on Sundays and every 30 minutes during the evening. A marketing campaign to promote the service is under way, with households along the route receiving information leaflets.
Marketing and Sales Manager at Go North East, Stephen King, said, ‘We’ve invested more than £2m in new buses based at our local depot in Washington for one of our most popular routes. We’re delighted to be bringing a new, fresh brand for Connections 4, with a new, modern metallic blue livery. Connections 4 plays a key role in getting people to work, school, college, shopping and leisure in Washington and Houghton, plus it’s easy to connect onto Red Arrows buses for journeys towards Gateshead and Newcastle, with a weekly ticket starting from just £18 for commuters from Fatfield to Newcastle.’
Go North East has created five new jobs to strengthen its Customer Services team at its Gateshead headquarters. Following their customer services training to give them the required knowledge of the operation’s services and ticket range, the new employees will be on hand to answer incoming telephone, email, live chat and Facebook enquiries from 07.00 until 19.00 Monday to Friday and 09.00 till 17.00 on Saturdays and Sundays.
Go North East’s Sales & Customer Services Co-ordinator, Tracey Walton, said, ‘Our Customer Services team take more than 300 phone calls every day and deal with hundreds of emails and telephone ticket sales. We’ve got 56,000 Facebook likes and 10,000 Twitter followers and hundreds of people use our live webchat facility. Our new recruits have enabled us to increase the hours during which we can offer this high level of customer service.’
Go North East has extended its Coaster service to re-establish a bus link to Newcastle for residents of Allerdene and Harlow Green in Gateshead. The move followed a public consultation in the local area undertaken by the Go-Ahead owned operator. The Coaster will run every 15 minutes between Whitley Bay and Gateshead, with buses then continuing every 30 minutes to Wrekenton.
Service Design Manager at Go North East, Graham Hill, said, ‘We’re really pleased to have worked in partnership with Gateshead Council and to have had the great response that we did from the residents of Harlow Green and Allerdene to the consultation. We always listen to what our customers have to say and I’m delighted we were able to respond to passenger’s feedback by providing the new link direct to Newcastle. Doing this by extending the Coaster route also offers new connections to Byker, North Shields and the coast, which I’m sure people will find handy to go to work, go shopping or have a day out at the beach.’
Pic: (LtoR) Transport and environment Portfolio holder from Gateshead Council, Cllr John McElroy and Graham Hill.
Go North East has rolled out Wi-Fi on board more of its services. The free internet access has been introduced on the Red Arrows, TEN, Angel and Tyne Tees Xpress routes. The facility has been provided by Moovbox and CCL systems.
Marketing and Sales Manager at Go North East, Stephen King, said, ‘We have a lot of daily interaction with our customers via Facebook and Twitter and they are telling us they love being able to make the most of their bus journeys by doing other things on their phones or tablets.’
Go North East has celebrated 100 years since its first ever bus journey by offering a 1913 style price of 5p. The first bus run by the operator’s predecessor company left Chester-le-Street for Low Fell at 14.00 on 7 May 1913. The Go-Ahead owned operation now runs the Angel service on this route, which saw the special fare introduced at exactly the same date and time, 100 years on. The 5p bus ride is one of a number of events Go North East is hosting to mark the centenary. The firm is commissioning a book presenting a people’s history of the company, as well as a children’s book for five to six year olds. Other special events include a summer party at the Beamish museum for its staff and stakeholders.
MD of Go North East, Kevin Carr, said, ‘There isn’t a lot you can buy for 5p these days and it’s a small price to pay to be part of our special centenary bus journey. As a company that prides itself on forward thinking and innovation, it’s rare we ever look back but turning 100 is a significant achievement and milestone and it’s only right that we highlight how far we’ve come. We continue to move with the times and invest in new buses, new technologies, smart ticketing choices, new ways of communicating with our customers and carefully trained staff. We are delighted to still be serving this fantastic region, 100 years on.’