Initially set up to procure the Wales and Borders rail franchise, Transport for Wales will be tasked with nurturing a ‘multi-modal culture in Wales’
Toon Tour, the sightseeing bus service across Newcastle and Gateshead has become the winner of the inaugural UK Open Top Bus Cup, sponsored by Ticketer. This follows its victory in the Final against New Forest Tours.
The competition is the brainchild of Great Scenic Journeys, the new organisation that promotes a collection of eye-catching public transport routes across the UK & Ireland and accredits their customer service credentials. 32 teams (or open top bus routes!) entered at the beginning of July and were pitted against each other, with the public voting on their favourite in each game.
Ben Maxfield who heads up Toon Tour and the wider Go North East bus business commented: “We are thrilled to hear that our Toon Tour has been named the best Open Top Bus Tour in the UK. The team work hard to make this service a success and I think it’s a fantastic way to see the area. I’d encourage anyone who fancies to go for a ride, it is particularly good for a day out with the kids”.
We’re not surprised that both Toon Tours and New Forest Tours made it to the final
Alex Warner, chief executive of Great Scenic Journeys commented: “We’re not surprised that both Toon Tours and New Forest Tours made it to the final. We carry out customer service reviews of all the routes that are part of the Great Scenic Journeys collection, and these performed really well in their reviews last month. You can’t get much different when it comes to the scenery in the eclectic Toon and the stunning New Forest landscape, but both companies share a passion for making customers happy. The Geordie locals, also got massively behind their favourite route and roared them onto victory, with their customary gusto and fervour”.
The final was neck and neck before Toon Tour powered ahead, receiving 65% of the votes, despite New Forest Tours, with its famous wildlife and popular on-board commentary, looking capable of a fightback. Like Go North East, New Forest Tours is also owned by Go-Ahead, which saw off many of its rivals along the way to the final.
There have been some fascinating, tight matches along the journey to glory. The scores were level between Skegness Seasiders and Sunseeker from Cornwall – the Lincolnshire bus which has quirky names for each of its vehicles, prevailing in a replay. Newcomers Peak Sightseer from Stagecoach made it to the Cup Quarter Final, beating red-hot favourites Exmoor Coaster – Britain’s steepest bus route – in the first round, whilst Cardiff Bus saw its newly revamped service progress to the Semi-Final where it was narrowly defeated by Toon Tour.
There were also fierce local derbies in Dorset, with the bus that goes on a boat, the Purbeck Breezer losing out to neighbours Jurassic Coaster. Purbeck are owned by Go Ahead Group and Jurassic Coaster by First. However, Go Ahead got their revenge as their New Forest Tours edged out Jurassic Coaster in another cliff-hanger derby, this time in the second semi-final.
The draw also threw up some other interesting ties with McGill’s two Edinburgh Sightseeing Tours being pitched against each other (Britannia beating City Sightseeing) and a south east seaside encounter between renowned friends Eastbourne Sightseeing and Thanet Open Top 69, run by Stagecoach. Independently owned Eastbourne Sightseeing prevailed, but it wasn’t a surprise as they’ve been relentlessly putting on additional services all summer to cope with demand for their trips to the top of Beachy Head!
For details on the road to the Final and Great Scenic Journeys, click onto www.greatscenicjourneys.co.uk
This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.
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