Expressway has announced a separation of the brand from its Bus Éireann parent with a €30 million high-tech fleet designed to attract customers from competitors at the luxury end of the bus market – as well as from trains.
The new coaches which have reclining leather seats, three pin and USB ports at each seat, also feature 4G wifi, aircraft-style trays, magazine racks, LCD uplights, journey monitors, air conditioning and “really posh” toilets.
Expressway is also introducing a redesigned website with a seat reservation system.
Some 20 of the new coaches were unveiled by Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe on Thursday, at a cost of €9.2 million. Another 40 buses are to be delivered over the next two years.
Built and delivered in a joint venture by Irizar in Spain, and Westward Scania in Roscommon, the first 20 coaches will go into service next week on Expressway’s 23 inter-city routes. Bridgestone Ireland are the company’s tyre suppliers on the new vehicles, while Irish company Fleet Connect provide the latest 4G-powered free wifi service.
The fleet is being introduced at a time when promotional fares of €8 are being offered on inter-city services.
The move will produce a separate identity for Expressway, which operates on a commercial-only basis in contrast to Bus Éireann’s subsidised, public service obligation. Bus Éireann is required to service routes in rural areas and regional cities. Last month Bus Éireann signed a €500 million-plus, five-year deal with the National transport Authority which included some €160 million in public service subsidies.
Launching the first 20 Expressway buses, Mr Donohoe said the decision to rebrand the Expressway fleet should be seen in the light of moves to make public transport more attractive and lure commuters from their cars.
“As more and more jobs are created, we are seeing an increase in the number of cars on the road and a build-up of congestion in some areas, as a result. We must continue to deliver attractive public transport options if we are to persuade people out of the car and onto other transport modes, which I believe Expressway does. This will ensure that our traffic flows more freely and that economic growth is supported, as our economy develops further,” he said.