Robin Hood leads the way as character buses take over Stagecoach East Midlands Sherwood Arrow service
Stagecoach East Midlands has led the way in turning buses in two key seaside areas into attractions in their own right. By giving the Seasider fleets in both Skegness and Cleethorpes individual identities and colourful paint schemes the buses have become as much a part of the holiday as amusements, beaches and fish and chips.
What Managing Director Michelle Hargreaves and her team have achieved is making the bus part of the holiday experience rather than just a means of travel from A to B.
Stagecoach East Midlands also has a strong track record of engagement with the local community with its support for charities through branded buses, as well as recognising significant local events, such as Lincolnshire Day with its Lincolnshire Flag bus.
The character idea has now been extended to the buses which operate the Sherwood Arrow service which links Nottingham with Ollerton and Worksop. For many years the buses used on the route have been painted in bright yellow and green colours.
Now characters from the legendary tales of Robin Hood each have their own bus.
Stagecoach East Midlands has re-branded the Sherwood Arrow service by introducing four character buses onto the route: Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Maid Marian and Friar Tuck.
Stagecoach East Midlands hopes that the buses will encourage families to leave the car at home and take a trip on a Robin Hood character bus.
Four Enviro 200 buses, 36001/05/06/07 carry the names, although we await confirmation of which character is on each individual vehicle.
Like the Skegness and Cleethorpes Seasider buses, children will also have the chance to complete a Robin Hood collection of badges. With one for each bus character, they will be available on the matching character bus when a child has paid a child fare or is accompanied with a fare-paying adult. Bus drivers will also have badge collection cards for each child, for them to record their collection. Sending in photos of completed collections via Twitter and email, children will have the chance to win a £100 toy voucher.
The Sherwood Arrow service, which is partly funded by Nottinghamshire County Council, serves the rural areas between Nottingham, Ollerton, Worksop and Retford. Attractions such as Sherwood Forest and Rufford Park can be reached by using one of the character buses as well as Wheelgate Park and White Post Farm.
Stagecoach East Midlands has advised that a launch event in Ollerton will be taking place on 26 July 2016 between 10am and 3pm on Forest Road outside the Spar shop. One of the Sherwood Arrow buses will be there for people to come and admire. The Stagecoach team will be on hand to answer any questions that customers may have and there will be entertainment including a stilt walking Jester, face painting and a storyteller at the event.
Michelle Hargreaves, Stagecoach East Midlands Managing Director, told SKM: “We are thrilled to announce that new character buses are now in service on the Sherwood Arrow. With the area’s strong links to the legendary tale, it seemed fitting to incorporate this into the rural service we offer.
“Sherwood Arrow is a great service for families to use as you can get out to explore and visit the countryside where there are many attractions just waiting to be enjoyed this summer. We hope that the characters will be well received by children and adults alike!”
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.