FirstGroup today unveiled the first Greyhound coaches which will introduce the iconic brand to the UK. Greyhound UK will launch on September 14th between London and the two cities of Portsmouth and Southampton and the company hopes to add further destinations from 2010.
In the USA and Canada, Greyhound offers the only countrywide network of coach services. Celebrated in film and song for nearly a century Greyhound has become the most famous bus brand in the world. Greyhound UK will offer unrivalled product and service quality with a large range of cheap fares starting from £1, plus 50p booking fee, on www.greyhounduk.com. Onboard features will include spacious leather seating, free wi-fi, power sockets, air-conditioning, complimentary newspapers and Greyhound will also offer industry-leading customer service.
Sir Moir Lockhead, FirstGroup’s Chief Executive, revealed the new vehicles and said:
“For 95 years Greyhound has been an icon of American life carrying millions of people across the USA and Canada. Since FirstGroup took over Greyhound in 2007, we have hoped to bring this famous brand across the Atlantic and I am absolutely delighted to reveal the first authentic Greyhound coaches in the UK.
“Although built on a venerable and famous brand, these vehicles will offer the latest in customer service and comfort. Greyhound UK will offer unrivalled value for money with fares available on-line from £1 each way plus 50p booking fee. All vehicles will be equipped with free wi-fi, air-conditioning, up to 20% extra leg room compared with rivals and industry-leading customer service. Passengers will travel in comfort and be able to use the time spent onboard for work or leisure. When we introduced these features in the USA, with Greyhound’s BoltBus subsidiary, passenger demand exceeded our expectations and I am confident that Greyhound UK will do the same.
“Our services will be more attractive than rival bus and train options, but we also believe that Greyhound UK’s growth will come from persuading more people to leave their cars at home and opt instead for our coaches. By providing these services at an unbeatable price, and doing so with the carbon footprint around 23% of journeys by private car, we think we will really make an impact on how people will travel in the future. I am pleased to be able to say that “the Greyhound has landed” and I am confident that it will set new benchmarks for travel in Britain.”
FirstGroup is Britain’s largest bus and rail operator and is already one of Britain’s biggest scheduled coach operators with over 250 vehicles operating under a variety of brand names. First is evaluating plans to roll out new Greyhound UK services from 2010.
Alex Warner, Greyhound UK’s Managing Director, explained the product and service offering:
“Greyhound UK will provide fast and frequent services. On September 14th we will launch with an hourly service each way between London and Portsmouth and London and Southampton. These services will be provided with convenient kerb-side pick ups at a number of locations in both south coast cities with all services in London arriving and departing from Bulleid Way, Victoria Railway Station, London. Greyhound services will also integrate with ferry services to and from the Isle of Wight. All services will be non-stop between the two cities, taking under two hours and providing a journey time advantage up to 40% over other coach operators whose services typically stop a number of times at intermediate locations including Heathrow.
“Customer service will be at the heart of Greyhound UK. Buying a ticket through our website will be simple and great value with a large number of cheap fares from £1 plus 50p booking fee. Our Scania Irizar coaches have only 41 seats rather than the 50 or so typically operated by other coach companies and the level of comfort eclipses anything else in the marketplace. We’re recruiting and training our staff to be committed to providing safe, reliable and customer focussed services.
“Market research we’ve conducted shows that 46% of existing rail customers and 73% of current coach customers would consider trying a new coach service based on the Greyhound product and service proposition.”
The new services will be marketed through a multi-media campaign with a focus on targeted online advertising complemented by more traditional print and field marketing activities. The services will be particularly attractive to a young demographic profile that is media and technologically savvy – such as the large student populations in the cities served. In addition, commuters, day trippers and those attending sporting and other entertainment events at both ends of the routes will also be attracted by the Greyhound product, service and value proposition.
All Greyhound UK coaches will have names. The theme will be women’s names from popular American songs such as ‘Sweet Caroline’, ‘Barbara Ann’, ‘Jolene’ and ‘Peggy Sue’.
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