Big Stagecoach Dayrider Adventure

Enviro300 27642 GX10HBU was bus number one to King's Lynn
At the beginning of the "summer" holidays, I promised a number of special reports and outings which I had either been invited to or had planned. Today saw me venture out on my second to last special day out before the "summer holidays" draw to a close.

Earlier in August, Stagecoach in Norfolk launched their new Megarider and Dayrider range of tickets. This included the Dayrider Gold East; priced at £13.50 the ticket allows unlimited day travel on all buses operated by Stagecoach East across Norfolk, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshireand parts of Lincolnshire. Using said ticket, I planned a big day out on Stagecoach operated buses.

My adventure began on the 09:20 Stagecoach in Norfolk X29 from Norwich Bus Station, operated today by Alexander Dennis Enviro300 27642 GX10HBU. Credit must go to the very cheery driver for his customer service, a foot was not even near the pedal until each and every passengers was firmly planted in their seat, and at Foulsham he stopped the bus and got out to try and dislodge an overhanging branch which was big enough to cause damage to a single deck vehicle - let alone the double deck vehicles in the fleet. The 09:20 X29 from Norwich seamlessly connects with the 10:38 X8 from Fakenham to King's Lynn, using the same through bus and driver. 

Seen at the end of my ride on the stunning 46 is 18278 PX55AHF
After a forty minute wait in King's Lynn (Photographs including a very rare Konectbus working to come Sunday), I was off on a ten minute delayed Stagecoach in Norfolk 46 for March. The one hour and twenty two minute journey operates via Wisbech, after a twisting and turning journey through the King's Lynn bus only track, a ride past Saddlebow Industrial Estate and a fenland flatland ride through St Germans, Walsoken and Walpole. The bus allocated to the journey was East Lancs Myllennium Lolyne bodied Alexander Dennis Trident 18278 PX55AHF, a rather comfortable and sturdy ride benefiting from moquette high backed seats and standard extra deep East Lancs windows. Like the Arriva Durham X93, which I travelled on during my Yorkshire holiday, Stagecoach in Norfolk's 46 has become one of my favourite bus routes, for the sheer fact of how many beautiful views there are across the many Fenland villages the service picks up.

March, for a small market town a similar size to North Walsham, has excellent bus connections. The locals can get to Peterborough, back towards King's Lynn and of course southwards to Huntingdon, for even further connections towards Cambridge.

The vibrating Dart which ferried me down to Huntingdon
As we left King's Lynn ten minutes late, I was sweating on the next connection. At March, last stop end of the line for the 46, I would next take up a Stagecoach in Huntingdonshire 35 for Huntingdon. Today worked by Transbus Pointer Dart 34536 GX04EYK, my journey on the 35 was not the most pleasant of journeys. Considering passengers for Huntingdon would be on the bus for over an hour if they boarded at March, you would have thought Stagecoach would have offered something a little more comfortable than a tired Dart. Nevertheless, a somewhat enjoyable route taking me deeper and deeper towards Cambridgeshire. My ride on the 35 was far less enjoyable than my journey on the 46, the route into Huntingdon is a tedious one, seeming as though passengers are provided with a sightseeing tour of just about every housing estate in the town. Again, it was a tight connection at Huntingdon, although the next bus, if I did not quite make it, would be just seven minutes behind it. So off I stepped with ringing ears and a numb bum for a shaky jog to the opposite end of the bus station.

The attractive seating of the busway Enviro400 bodied Scanias
My next bus was Alexander Dennis Enviro400 bodied Scania N230UD 15202 YN64ANX; I was taking my first ride on the controversially built Cambridge guided busway.  Following a recent trend in high specification buses, vehicles operated by Stagecoach on Busway branded services boast free Wifi and USB charging points, real time next stop interior destination screens (In this case identical to those on the X1 in Norwich) and high back leather seats. Of all the highly specified buses I have been on over the past few years, these ones definitely top them. 15202 is no different in terms of the ride to any other Alexander Dennis Enviro400 product I have ever been on, through the bumpy housing estates it shakes no end; however, the wifi is fantastic and the seats are an absolute dream - both taking your mind off of the constant shaking. The only downside I picked up on from the guided busway, at least service 'b' anyway is the time consuming route out of Huntingdon; it seems to spoil the speed and directness of using the busway over standard bus services.

A Whippet Wright Eclipse heads along the guided busway
I hopped off mid route to get some photographs of the buses powering along the busway. It's quite a hard one to master and get absolutely no blur even after five or six attempts. Luckily, with buses every few minutes it's not as though an enormous length of time is wasted trying for photos. Whilst at the stop, I played around with some of the facilities. I was at one of the smaller, less busy stops; even still, there is sufficient undercover waiting room, heaps of information for timetables and ticket options, real time information on an LED screen suspended in the shelter and a touch screen device allowing users to see destination lists, contact telephone numbers and next buses. Access for all is paramount, with a prominent button being made available which will read next departures, where they will be going and state that wheelchair access will be available.

A short while later as we pounded the concrete of the guided busway the arrival in Cambridge was made. Forty or so minutes was filled in Cambridge with some photography of the local bus scene, to which since my last visit to the city there has been various changes. Whippet have been taken over by Tower Transit and taken on National Express work and Stagecoach have introduced the "Gold" branding to the area. On the long distance X5, an ambassador to intercity services in my opinion, a brand new fleet of Plaxfon Elites in a striking new livery have been launched - a significant upgrade to the somewhat worn out Plaxton Panther bodies Volvo B9Rs previously on the service.

...and the final ride of the day was on the Megabus M37
The homeward bound journey was made in one single trip with Megabus, a brand owned by Stagecoach. The M37 is a special one, being contracted partly to be run by Freestones Coaches, as a result the journey was made by a vehicle irregular to the rest of the Megabus network - this being Irizar Century bodied Scania K340 YN08DGU. Obviously, the Megarider and Dayrider ticket does not cover the Megabus service in Cambridge - which came to me at an additional charge of just £4.00 and a 50p booking fee.

The arrival was made back into Norwich an hour and thirty five minutes later, exactly on time as per the schedule. It is fair to say today has been an enjoyable one, and has got my mind whizzing as to where else the new Dayrider and Megarider ticket can take me. It seems that for an enthusiast day out west of Norwich, the new ticket options are just the ticket!
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About Kieran Smith

Norwich Buses Blog was founded in December 2013 by Sam Larke after he left another popular blog, Norwich Bus Page. Since it's launch, the site has grown dramatically, especially whilst written solely by Kieran Smith during 2015. The blog is now in it's third year and we look forward to more success and growth in the future. If you think you'd make a good writer for Norwich Buses Blog, please do get in touch via email: samuel.larke@gmail.com
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