We were kindly invited to go and meet the lovely people at Reading Buses today, which was both interesting and informative. Their hospitality extended to providing us with complimentary bus passes so that we could explore their network before meeting them, and this allowed us to experience first-hand the exceptional quality of service that they offer to their passengers.
Despite our tickets being on smartcards, meaning no driver interaction was strictly necessary, we were greeted verbally by polite, friendly, smartly turned out drivers on every bus that we used. Vehicles were comfortable and well loaded, with passenger information screens showing upcoming bus stops as standard. They are also very on-message when it comes to integrated transport, with the majority of buses stopping directly outside one or other (or both!) sides of Reading railway station. Not only this, but as you approach the station the information screen displays upcoming train departures, with live running information.
Little things, but they make a big difference when you have a tight connection and you know which platform you are aiming for before you reach the station. We also enjoyed a journey on a Claret Spritzer-branded Scania OmniDekka, which contains a wealth of exciting interior features. These include free WiFi, USB charging sockets and tables, alongside more exciting additions such as a jukebox, lego and a social lounge area at the rear of the upper deck.
After our journeys across the network, and a quick visit to their Bus Shop in central Reading, we headed over to the depot for our meeting. This included a tour of the depot and a ride on one of the company’s newly acquired gas-powered Optare Solos – which deliver a very smooth ride. What was clear from our visit is that the Reading Buses operation really is of the highest standard – and they continue to innovate.