Bus Éireann replaces 20% of Expressway fleet in €16m investment

New ticketing technology also introduced in company’s biggest investment in a decade

Stephen Kent, chief executive of Bus Éireann, with one of the new coaches. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Stephen Kent, chief executive of Bus Éireann, with one of the new coaches. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

 

Bus Éireann is replacing almost one in five coaches on its commercial Expressway inter-regional service as well as introducing new ticketing technology in what is its biggest investment in the service in more than a decade.

The company said it had invested €16 million in the venture, which will include 30 new coaches for use nationwide. The first of the new 60-seater coaches entered passenger service in Waterford on Tuesday.

Expressway is the largest commercial bus operator in the State, and carried six million passengers in 2019.

In addition to Waterford, the new fleet will be deployed to Cork, Galway, Limerick, Stranorlar and Sligo, connecting communities right along the western seaboard on some of Expressway’s busiest routes.

Among the features on board are reclining premium leather seats with adjustable headrests, charging plugs, tray tables and air con at every seat, as well as 4G wifi. All of the coaches are also wheelchair accessible and have on-board toilets.

Bus Éireann said the new coaches would support the company’s commitment to reducing emissions, enabling a reduction of at least 70 per cent in hydrocarbon emissions and at least 88 per cent reduction in nitrogen oxide compared with the 30 vehicles they will replace.

Bus Éireann published its first sustainability strategy last month, targeting a halving in greenhouse gas emissions and a 30 per cent increase in passenger numbers by 2030.

‘A big day’

The investment is the most significant made by Bus Éireann in its commercially operated Expressway service in more than a decade and reduces the average age of the 170-strong fleet to less than five years.

“This is a big day for Expressway after a very tough 15 months,” said Bus Éireann chief executive officer Stephen Kent. “It is very positive to be announcing such a significant investment in our fleet as the country emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The virtual disappearance of some of the main markets for Expressway – Dublin Airport and third-level education – as well as capacity restrictions have hit the business hard, but we are optimistic about the return to more normal operations.

“Having state-of-the-art vehicles is essential as this is a very competitive market and customer expectations are rising all the time.”

The rollout of the new fleet comes ahead of the anticipated increase in capacity on public transport in the coming months and the return of airport and student travel which, combined, comprise half of Expressway’s market.

Booking system

Bus Éireann has also invested more than €2.5 million in a new online booking system, MyExpressway, which provides both guaranteed advance seat reservations and contactless payments on board.

Bus Éireann chief commercial officer Eleanor Farrell said: “The indications are that full capacity will be restored on public transport as early as August 5th, subject to prevailing public health guidance.

“We know that many people have not been able to travel with us since March 2020, and we have been busy in the meantime.

“We are very excited to be offering customers such an improvement in their Expressway experience, and especially those travelling in Ireland’s most popular tourist areas. We are more than ready for the staycation season.

“Customers booking with Expressway can look forward to travelling in comfort and style.

“Our new booking system MyExpressway will further enhance the customer experience, providing guaranteed seat reservations for all customers including those with travel passes, and contact-free payments on board with Android and Apple Pay.”

All of the new coaches, built by VDL in the Netherlands, will be deployed before the end of June.