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October 2003

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Remembrance Day Poppies


Some of the early Optare Spectras in the fleet, including 701, 704 and 705 this week received large poppies on the front ready for remembrance day next month.

701 on 23 October 2003 (54595 bytes)

This is 701 on Thursday 23rd, the first day that the poppies were noted. This photo also shows the advert frames that have now been applied to most vehicles in the fleet.

More About Smart Cards & On Street Ticket Machines


More technical information about the Reading Borough Council issued smart cards is now becoming available. The cards are an example of a new system called SPICE - Smart Personalisation and Integrated Card Encoding, recently launched by Wayfarer at Passenger Transport Solutions (held earlier this month alongside Coach & Bus 2003 at the NEC). It combines with their SmarTrack software to provide complete life cycle management for the cards, with multi-functional, personalised cards for the passenger, and usage statistics for managers. The project for Reading Borough Council has involved 20,000 cards being personalised, created, encoded, validated and distributed.

There is also more about the new on street ticket machines. It seems that Reading is the first place in the UK outside London that has installed these machines. The machines are operated in partnership with the council, with 15 to eventually appear across the town. The first ten of these Metric Accent machines are already in place, and are to be modified so that passengers can top up Reading Buses and First Berkshire smart cards when they are introduced. A high-tech management system is in place to apportion revenue from ticket sales, the machines are connected by mobile phone to a central server in the council offices where sales are split between Reading Buses and NightTrack, depending on the ticket type sold. Data relating to the popularity of each machine will also be available so that decisions can be made about where the best locations for them are, or if there is a case for installing more.

Arriva Brand Services 328 & 329


Arriva have added route branding to at least one vehicle for services 328 and 329 between High Wycombe and Reading. The number of vehicles to be branded is not yet clear, but in the process the vehicle below N624 FJO looks to have received a full repaint along with its branding.

N624 FJO on 15 October 2003 (54987 bytes)

Photograph at Reading Station this evening.

The branding advertises some of the stopping points along the route - Reading - Shiplake 329 - Twyford 328 - Henley - Marlow - High Wycombe and three diamonds towards the rear read 'Great Days Out', 'Henley Marlow Twyford', and 'Family 7 Explorer'. Along the top the text reads "Regular daily service upto every 30 minutes between High Wycombe & Reading ROUTES 328 & 329".

More information will appear as it becomes known, but so far only N624 FJO has been noted with the branding.

Real Time System - Live & Online


As the real time system is being rolled out around Reading, elements are now becoming active. The on-bus screens inside NightTrack vehicles have now been seen in operation, advising of forthcoming bus stops along the route. Mark Stevens from Babtie advises that the real time bus information is also to become available on the Internet at as part of the Reading Urban Traffic Management and Control Project (UTMC). Already on the website are images from traffic CCTV cameras, rail information and car parking availability.

Smarts Cards - Now in Use


Reading's first smart cards came into use on Wednesday 1st October, with all Reading Borough Council bus pass holders (the pensioners and disabled) undergoing the conversion. The cards are credit card in size, and feature a copy of the holders photograph. All were issued in white plastic wallets, the wording on the wallets varying between the different pass holder types. Visually impaired holders for example have an additional bright orange box on their wallet along with some Braille that I'm reliably informed reads 'Bus Pass'.

Users are simply required to place the card on top of the ticket machine as they board - they can even be left inside the plastic wallet and still register. I suspect that the drivers will want to see the photo, but I can't help wonder that whether in the winter you could successfully use the pass from inside a glove!

Real Time System - Infrastructure starting to hit the streets


As reported last week on the forum, the first on street real time display has been put up on Minster Street. Unfortunately the displays seem to be as unphotographable as the new high visibility LED destination displays fitted to a number of vehicles in the Reading fleet, but they should prove to be a great asset to passengers in the town. The system has yet to go live, although this event can't be all that long away.

Real Time 051003 (26762 bytes)

The display, seen today reads:

System Under Test

We await further developments, and more of these displays appearing around the town. Already some vehicles in the Reading Buses fleet have TFT monitors fitted to provide progress reports as the bus goes along.

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