I have long considered that a bus is a great mobile advertisement. In the 1970s I was aghast when the bus company I worked for took advertisers money and plastered a number of its vehicles with car adverts. They might have well put a ‘Buy a car and don’t travel by bus message on the back of the Fleetlines.
It was the 1980s before many operators realised that they could use their own buses to promote their own services. Classic. Extol the virtues of travelling by bus to those motorists who were caught up in traffic jams.
Then in the last 20 years or so there has been an explosion in plastering route branding on vehicles. A great move - as long as it doesn’t obscure the windows! There is just one niggle I have, if vehicles carry route branding then they should be used on the route that the branding is ‘selling’.
It can be done. Reading Buses, Nottingham Transport and Trent Barton are experts on the correct management of route branded vehicles.
If operators cannot allocate branded vehicles to routes then they should ditch the route branding all together.
Only last Saturday I came across a vehicle which was even in a special route livery operating off route - some 30 miles from the nearest point of the route that it should be used on. Then later in the day another route branded vehicle 30 miles off route. Well it would have been 30 miles off route but the service number on the vehicle no longer exists - it was replaced some four weeks ago, although the renumbered service covers the same calling points.
Come on bus operators, if you have vehicles with route branding on make sure it is up to date and that the vehicles are allocated to the right route. Branding of vehicles is not cheap so why spend the money if you have depot controllers who cannot manage vehicle allocations effectively!
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.