30 VDL Futuras FHD2-139 in public transport as Bus Éireann invests in Expressway fleet
Bus Éireann, Ireland's national coach operator, has commenced operation of 30 Futuras FHD2-139 from VDL Bus & Coach on its commercial intercity service. These vehicles will be used for Expressway inter-regional bus services and people will see them in a number of key locations including Waterford, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Stranorlar and Sligo, connecting communities right along the western seaboard on some of Expressway’s busiest routes.
“Our cooperation with Bus Éireann goes back almost 30 years,” says Marcel Jacobs, Commercial Director of VDL Bus & Coach. “We are extremely proud of this relationship. It is also another good example of the diverse use of our Futura range, in this case for high-quality public transport on longer routes in Ireland. Bus Eíreann also published its first sustainability strategy last month and aims to halve greenhouse gas emissions. This ties in perfectly with VDL Bus & Coach’s ambitions for the Futura range, which is known for its low vehicle weight and effective and fuel-efficient powertrain.”
VDL Futura FHD2-139
The coaches for Bus Éireann are built in a public transport version with route indicators, TFT screens, charging points, camera system and WiFi. The 30 Futuras have 59 luxury Class 500 seats with leather upholstery and adjustable headrests. All coaches are equipped with a lift, making them accessible to wheelchairs. In addition, there is an advanced payment system on board which enables contactless payment via Android and Apple Pay.
Stephen Kent, Chief Executive Officer of Bus Éireann: “With the introduction of this new fleet of VDL coaches, we are optimistic about the expected increase in public transport passengers in the coming months, particularly the growth of our airport and student business. It is essential to have state-of-the-art vehicles, as this is a highly competitive market and customer expectations are increasing. This investment demonstrates our commitment to service and to improving both the customer experience and our commitment to reducing emissions.”
Bus Éireann operates the most extensive and varied public transport network in the country, serving almost 90 million passengers in 2019 across 82 million kilometres, with operations in 17 depots and 2,700 employees, including around 1,980 professional bus drivers. The fleet comprises 1,170 vehicles.
The company, supported by the National Transport Authority, operates Public Service Obligation routes across the city networks of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford, Greater Dublin Area commuter services, town services in Athlone, Balbriggan, Drogheda, Dundalk, Navan, Sligo, as well as county services. The company also has the country’s largest intercity service, Expressway, and operates the national School Transport Scheme on behalf of the Department of Education.
Expressway, Bus Éireann's premium bus service, is the largest commercial bus operator in the country, carrying six million passengers in 2019. Expressway provides direct and regular services on 14 routes throughout Ireland. It is the only bus service to offer passengers a network across Ireland, making it the fastest way to reach a high number of destinations.
VDL Bus & Coach has been successful with the Futura in public transport for a number of years. Hundreds of Futuras are in use every day. For example, the Futura FHD2 and FMD2 are used in various operations in Ireland, France and Scandinavia, while the double-decker Futura FDD2 is used in the Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany. In this way, passengers are comfortably brought to their destinations throughout Europe by means of high-quality public transport by coach.
At the end of 2020, VDL Bus & Coach announced that it would be making its debut in public and intercity transport in Ireland with 5 Futuras FMD2-148. In two phases this year, VDL Bus & Coach will deliver 53 double-deck Futuras FDD2-141 to the National Transport Authority (NTA), the organisation responsible for the financing and supervision of public transport in Ireland. The coaches will be used on regional lines and commuter bus services. For this purpose, the vehicles are built to a very comprehensive public transport specification.
In recent years, the international intercity segment has grown considerably. Due to the liberalisation of this market, various private parties now offer regulated international lines throughout Europe. In parallel with these developments, priorities have shifted to CO2 reduction and passenger comfort. As a result, the coach has become a serious alternative to other forms of public transport in certain countries.
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