|Slogan||Here to take you there.|
|Headquarters||(Arriva Southern Counties)
Invicta House, Maidstone, Kent
|Operator||Arriva Southern Counties|
|Website||Arriva Buses UK company website|
Arriva Southend is a division of Arriva Southern Counties, a subsidiary of transport group Arriva which operates bus services in and around the Southend-on-Sea, Rochford, Rayleigh, Basildon, and Thurrock areas of Essex. They operate most services east of Southend and a few services west of Southend, and compete to a limited extent with four other local operators with services in the same areas: First Essex, NIBS, Regal Busways, and Stephensons of Essex.
The company was founded in 1901 as Southend Corporation Transport, and was renamed Southend Transport in 1974. It began operating motorbuses in 1912, and became a limited company on 26 October 1986 due to the 1985 Transport Act. Southend Transport was involved in a price war with Thamesway (now part of First Essex). Southend Transport was sold by Southend Borough Council to the British Bus group in June 1993 for a reported £1, which in turn was taken over by the Cowie group.
Cowie was renamed Arriva in August 1998 and Southend Transport was renamed Arriva serving Southend as part of this rebranding. Although the 'serving Southend' local identity caption has now been phased out, it can still be seen on the sides of some of their buses.
On 28 January 2000, the original Southend garage at 87 London Road dating from the foundation of Southend Corporation Transport was closed and demolished shortly afterwards, with a new one constructed in Short Street, Southend-on-Sea. The old London Road site is now occupied by a retail park.
Arriva Southend had continued the service X1 coach service to London inherited from Southend Transport, latterly as the Green Line 721 service. In 2001 operation of route X1 was taken over by Stephensons of Essex, which withdrew it in July 2008.
On 30 March 2008 both commercially run services from the Grays garage (routes 373 and 383) were withdrawn, with the buses used for these services moving to Southend garage. The Grays garage now only operates the Transport for London (TfL) contracted services.
Arriva Southend has been criticised by users and the Southend Area Bus Users' Group for withdrawing services which it considered no longer economically viable due to low passenger numbers (even when parts of the route were profitable) when Southend Borough Council withdrew bus subsidies of up to £6 per passenger in 2005. On 21 January 2008 Southend Area Bus Users' Group and Councilor Steve Aylen successfully campaigned for improvements to Service 6A after having been withdrawn in 2005. On 31 March 2008, service 7 was extended at the suggestion of Great Wakering Parish Council and the Rochford Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, who are subsidising the service. The company trials the operation of new services to gauge service demand, and makes services permanent if there are enough passengers to support them being run.
It has also been criticised by Southend Borough Council for the age of its bus fleet, as some of its buses are nearly 20 years old and many do not have low-floor, easy-access step-free entry which is important for older people, as Southend has an ageing population with the most senior citizens in the country, although most areas do not have full low-floor networks yet, and buses are built to have working lives of about 20 years. Arriva Southend did introduce some new Dennis Trident 2 Alexander ALX400 low-floor double-decker buses branded for use on services 7 and 8 in 2000, but they were subsequently redistributed to Arriva Maidstone and Arriva East Herts & Essex in 2004/5 as Arriva decided that they were not getting enough passengers to justify their use. However, many of the older buses have now been replaced with more modern ones, and this process will continue over the next year to replace the remainder of the older vehicles.
Further criticism came from passengers when Arriva Southend and First Essex decided to withdraw their "Day Rover" ticket, which allowed unlimited journeys on the day of purchase on buses operated by both companies regardless of which company issued the ticket, so day tickets can now only be used on the buses of the company issuing them. They replaced it with a more expensive "Octopus" ticket which is issued by and can be used on any buses operated by Arriva Southend, First Essex, NIBS, Regal Busways and Stephensons of Essex in the Southend, Rochford and Castle Point districts, covering more bus operators and a wider area of Essex.
On 8 February 2009, Arriva reduced the frequency of services 7 and 8 to some areas, which angered some residents in Hockley and Hawkwell, as it made it very difficult for them to get to and from Southend Hospital and Clements Hall Leisure Centre on time due to the 7 and 8 either running very late in the Shoebury area, or buses turning back before reaching their terminating point. The move also dismayed Rochford councillors. The Hockley Residents' Association also said that the figures for low customer numbers used to justify the frequency reduction were flawed. After receiving numerous complaints from Hockley residents, on 7 June 2009 Arriva Southend extended some service 7 buses to Hockley Spa instead of terminating at Ashingdon Schools. It is likely that this extra service is now going to stay after a review in December 2009. Hawkwell residents then sent further complaints to the Essex County Council about service 8 not having evening services after 6:30pm since 2002. They demanded that one of the service 7 evening buses to become an 8 and divert to Hawkwell. Essex County Council said it would not be possible to add an evening service to service 8. Arriva Southend have also been criticised for running all of their services in the Shoeburyness area via Asda, after they changed the route of Service 1 to run through Asda instead of Elm Road.
Arriva Southend has started using an "undercover passenger" scheme to attempt to better understand problems and complaints with the changes they have made to their services, encouraging passengers to participate by offering them a week's free bus travel for rating the services they use.
There has been crictism from passengers frequently using Service 29, which was merged with Service 13 to provide a through service from Belfairs to Temple Sutton since 27 March 2011. The route merger resulted in drivers not given sufficient time to complete the whole route, which has caused buses to turn back before reaching their terminating point, missing out certain bus stops and leaving passengers stranded from over 45 to 90 minutes to wait for the next Service 29.
From September 2010, the main services have been colour-coded on route maps, with Service 1 dark green, Service 4 red, Service 4A light blue, Service 5 maroon, Service 6A lilac, Service 7 orange, Service 8 light green, Service 9 light pink, Service 10 dashed grey, Service 13 dark pink, Service 17 dashed dark blue, Service 18 dashed dark purple, and Service 29 sea green. In 2008, Arriva Southend began branding some of its low-floor Dennis Dart buses for specific services with red and yellow vinyl stickers, beginning with Service 29 as "the twenty-nine", then Service 13 as "…the sutton shuttle…" and Service 5 as "Basildon direct", with associated dedicated web sites for the 5 and 29. Some buses had previously been colour-coded, with Service 1 red, Service 5 dark blue and Service 9 light green. This colour-coding was retained on the timetables for these services, with Service 13 and 29 dark green, and Service 17 purple, until the new colour codes replaced them. The four Service 29 branded Darts were named by students at the Fairways Primary School in Belfairs in conjunction with the launch of the branding. Service 5 branding has now been removed following the withdrawal of services to Grays and Lakeside. Services 13 and 29 have now had their branding removed, as they have been combined from Monday 28 March 2011, with Service 29 being extended to Temple Sutton to replace Service 13. Service 9 was branded "The Wave" and supplied with new, named, buses in November 2011. In 2013, route 1 also received new, branded buses, each named after a place that the route serves, e.g. 'Pride of Rayleigh' or 'Pride of Southend'. In 2016 Arriva Southend dropped branding for all routes and cut routes including the no.5 to Basildon.
Southend depot runs commercial services in Grays, Southend and surrounding areas. These Routes are 1, 4A, 7, 8, 9, 29, 44, 201.
Bus types in use
- 18 Enviro 400 Entered service in late 2016, for the service 1 - Set to replace Optare Versa on service 1.
- 12 Optare Versa V1110 (11.1 m), branded "Route 9 – Ride the Wave"
- 16 Optare Versa V1170 (11.7 m), Entered service on 20 April 2013, branded as "ONE" for route 1
- Volvo B7RLE for services 7 & 8
- DAF SB120 /Wright Cadet
- Wright Streetlite
- VDL SB200 /Wright Pulsar
On 1 January 2016, the control of this depot passed to Arriva London as part of a major business shake-up, along with, Dartford Garage, Watford Garage and TGM's Heathrow Garage,
Twelve new low-emission (Euro 5-compliant), CCTV-fitted Optare Versa V1110 midibuses were bought at a cost of £1.8 million for Service 9 and entered public service in November 2011. Then in February 2013 Arriva brought 16 Optare Versa V1170 midibuses for £2 million and they were rebranded as "ONE" for use on route 1, which entered service on 20 April 2013.
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- Laura Smith (15 July 2008). "Echo News: 'Bus-users hit in the pocket by ticket axe'". Retrieved 28 July 2009.
- Michelle Archard (11 December 2008). "Echo News: 'Fury at plans to cut bus services to two an hour'". Retrieved 23 July 2009.
- Michelle Archard (24 December 2008). "Echo News: 'Protesters lose battle to save 2 bus routes'". Retrieved 23 July 2009.
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- "Arriva invests another £2 million in new buses for Southend, Castle Point and Rochford". Arriva. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- BUSES Magazine, Issue 731 (February 2016). p. 66.
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