QuayLink

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Quaylink
Quaylink logo.PNG
Quaylink offside.jpg
QuaylinK Olymbus in March 2008, operated by Stagecoach North East
Parent Nexus
Founded 2005
Locale Tyne and Wear
Service area Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead
Service type bus service
Routes Q1 Central StationGateshead Interchange
Q2 Haymarket–St Peter's Basin
Fleet 10
Daily ridership 2,383 [1]
Fuel type Hybrid diesel-electric 2005–2010
Low-emission diesel 2010–present
Operator Stagecoach North East 2005–2010
Go North East 2010–present

QuayLink is a bus service in Tyne and Wear, England, connecting the city centres of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead with the Quayside area. Conceived as a high-quality environmentally friendly operation, it was launched in 2005 as routes Q1 and Q2 using diesel turbine hybrid electric buses (Designline Olymbus) operated by Stagecoach North East under contract to the local authorities, who funded the purchase of the buses and other improvements. After problems with the hybrid buses coping with the hilly terrain, when put out to re-tender in 2010 new buses were specified, and the contract transferred to Go North East using eco-friendly diesel buses (Optare Versa Euro V EEV). Following budget cuts, in 2015 the service was operated by Go North East on a commercial basis, reaching further into the suburbs as a renumbered Q1/Q2/Q3 route network. From 31 July 2016 Q3 was extended to run to Wallsend Metro.

Inception[edit]

Quaylink bus stop

The Quaylink service was conceived as a high quality service for the redeveloped and expanding Quayside area, which, although extremely close to Newcastle and Gateshead town centres, was outside the traditional operating area of existing bus services and was dominated by car usage.[2]

In June 2002, Newcastle and Gateshead councils and the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive (Nexus) invited tenders for operation of a proposed Tyne Quayside Link, and for manufacture of eight alternatively-fuelled buses for a Quayside Transit System. The total project, scheduled for launch in 2004, would cost £5m, with £3m coming from the local transport plan, £1m from regeneration funds for Gateshead, and £1m from the Quayside developers.[3] As well as new buses, the project involved the construction of a bus lane and improvements to some bus stops, making them fully accessible.

Stagecoach operation[edit]

Quaylink Olymbus in May 2009, operated by Stagecoach North East
QuayLink Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Dart in Newcastle upon Tyne in March 2009, operated by Stagecoach North East
Standard Stagecoach Alexander ALX300 bodied MAN 18.220 operating Q1 in April 2006

Stagecoach won the tender to operate the service, with the buses chosen being the Olymbus model built by Designline in New Zealand and which had been introduced into service in Christchurch in 1998. Stagecoach boss Brian Souter had arranged the purchase of a prototype Olymbus while on a visit to Stagecoach New Zealand. It arrived in October 2004 and toured the country in Stagecoach corporate livery on proving trials until April 2005. A further nine buses followed, with the fleet of ten being allocated to the Walkergate depot, which received the necessary upgrades to accommodate them. They were substantially modified for operation in the UK, notably using a leaf door design over the plug design.[4] While the buses were double doored, the middle door was only provided for wheelchair access. Prior to launch, all ten buses were pictured on the Quayside with local dignitaries and partner representatives.[3]

The service launched on 22 July 2005 as a week-long free shuttle service to coincide with the 2005 Tall Ships Race, with the full service commencing on 29 July 2005.[5]

The Olymbuses were initially turbine powered diesel-electric hybrids, in which the wheels were solely driven by electric motors, powered by on-board battery packs. The batteries were charged overnight, and then re-charged while the bus is in operation in one of two ways: from a diesel powered turbine-generator, or through regenerative braking. The turbine/generators used were of a multi-fuel design - a fleet of buses in Tempe, Arizona were using the same generator running from LNG around the same time. Even with the turbine running, the buses were credited with a markedly quiet ride compared to conventional vehicles. Various types and manufacturers of battery packs were used - the prototype had to have its Hawker Genesis batteries replaced before entering service, due to being allowed to completely discharge while the vehicle was waiting to be certified. The nine production buses arrived with Portalac batteries, but by 2006 these had to be replaced with Hawker Genesis & Odyssey types having been life-expired.[6]

The service cost £8m to set up and initially passenger numbers were low; carrying just 11,000 passengers a week.[7]

The service began with two routes, Q1 and Q2 - the Q1 connected Central Station (the main railway station in Newcastle) to the Gateshead Quayside and town centre and Gateshead Interchange, by crossing the River Tyne via the Swing Bridge. In the Gateshead Quayside it passes the The Sage and the The Baltic Centre. The Q2 stayed on the Newcastle side, connecting the Haymarket bus station and Civic Centre in the northern side of the city centre, with the Quayside. Both routes share a small section in the city centre along Grey Street, Dean Street and Side, with three shared stops - Theatre Royal (top), Grey Street and Quayside (Guildhall).

As ridership increased, by 31 May 2007 the services had carried 1 million passengers[8]

Following development of the Ouseburn valley, on 3 September 2007 the Q2 service was extended through Ouseburn to the St Peter's Basin area to the east[9]

By the end of 2008, due to the turbines in the buses being unable to keep the batteries charged for the whole day leading to some instances of buses being withdrawn and replaced with conventional buses, it was announced that Stagecoach were going to replace the turbine/generators with a conventional diesel engine as an alternative charging system. This modification was going to be done to one bus first on a trial basis, to be evaluated in Spring 2009, with an anticipated cost of modifying the whole fleet of £200,000.[10] To augment the hybrid fleet, Stagecoach also painted two step-entrance Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Darts in the Quaylink livery.

Transfer to Go North East[edit]

Quaylink Optare Versa in November 2013, operated by Go North East

Although it was decided the service would continue when the contract came up for renewal in summer 2010, it was specified that the Olymbuses should be replaced with new buses, because of difficulties coping with the hilly nature of the route.[11]

Go North East won the contract to operate the service, again with a five-year contract, with operations transferred on 18 July 2010. The buses specified this time were to be conventional diesels of the Optare Versa model, but with engines to the state of the art Euro V EEV (Enhanced Environmental Vehicle) specification, which it was claimed would make the service greener than the previous Olymbuses. Conventional buses were used on the route for the first three weeks, with a fleet of nine Versas entering service from 10 August 2010. They feature increased seating capacity, information screens and audio announcements.[12][13]

The Designline hybrids were later sold for scrap, with plans by Nexus to use them on other routes not coming to fruition.[14]

Relaunch as commercial service[edit]

Due to budget cuts, it was announced at the end of 2014 that Newcastle & Gateshead councils would no longer fund the service beyond the end of the second 5-year contract, due to finish in July 2015. Go North East instead opted to continue to operate the service on a commercial basis with minimal funding from Nexus which itself would also end within three years.[15]

From 26 July 2015, Go North East will relaunch the service with a new look and with major changes to the routes - the Q1 route would be merged with their existing Orbit branded 51/52 (bi-directional circulars), and would be renumbered Q1 and Q2. These changes would extend the reach of the Quaylink network beyond Gateshead to the south, with the circular route connecting Felling, Heworth, Springwell, Wrekenton and Low Fell. Similarly, the old Q2 would be merged with their existing Great Park & Ride branded X40/40A route, and be renumbered Q3. This would extend the network to the north beyond Haymarket to Great Park and Gosforth. The relaunched services would use the same model of bus, the Versa, but these will feature a yellow and purple livery for the new Q1/Q2, with the Q3 using a yellow and green scheme, to differentiate the two.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][permanent dead link] Annual Report 2008/09
  2. ^ Newcastle Council Archived June 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. QuayLink FAQ
  3. ^ a b Community Gate.co.uk Archived July 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Communitygate.co.uk Archived October 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "FREE QuayLink buses during Tall Ships' Races". Stagecoach North East. 13 July 2005. Archived from the original on 6 November 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2010. We are delighted to confirm QuayLink will provide FREE shuttle services to the Quayside during the Tall Ships' Races. 
  6. ^ http://www.batterydemon.co.uk/063%20Quaylink%20bus.pdf
  7. ^ "Backing for electric bus service". BBC News. 13 March 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2008. It cost £8m to set up during the 2005 Tall Ships Race, but is attracting just 11,000 passengers a week. Newcastle and Gateshead councils say they will continue to pay £153,000 a year in the hope of gaining passengers. Changes to frequency and routes are now being planned in an effort to get more passengers onto the buses and to trim running costs. 
  8. ^ Nexus news archive QuayLink passenger is one in a million., 31 May 2007, retrieved 11 April 2008[dead link]
  9. ^ Nexus news archive[dead link] QuayLink heads for Ouseburn and St Peter's., 3 September 2007, retrieved 11 April 2008
  10. ^ http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/quaylink-bus-service-faces-200000-1478752
  11. ^ Chronicle News - Plug pulled on Newcastle quayside electric bus
  12. ^ http://www.travelnortheast.co.uk/news/stories/2010/june/070610-QuaylinkSeesANewOperatorFrom18thJuly.html
  13. ^ Chronicle News - New diesel Quaylink buses still eco-friendly
  14. ^ http://www.route-one.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/routeone570.pdf
  15. ^ "Quaylink fuels row over quality contracts". Bus and Coach. 19 December 2014. 
  16. ^ http://www.simplygo.com/news/changes-to-services-from-26-july-2015

External links[edit]