New Volvos for Safeguard

Tuesday 6th December 2022

Safeguard Coaches managing director, Andrew Halliday contacted me last week suggesting I might like to sample the company’s two recently delivered new Volvo B8R/MCV Evoras (spelt eVoRas – just to be different I guess). It sounded a good idea and one not to miss out on so yesterday morning found me in Guildford’s rather tired looking Friary bus station ready to give them the once over.

The buses certainly look smart with Safeguard Coaches’ traditional red and cream livery suiting the box type shape of the Evoras, although I noticed the red and cream have swapped places with the former now along the lower skirt panels which probably makes sense with so much road dirt especially in winter although it’s noticeable how clean Safeguard’s fleet always looks. Reference to the company’s 90th anniversary in 2014 has also been removed, which is just as well as it won’t be long until the 100th, which is something to look forward to.

The new Volvo is on the left and an older Optare on the right showing the comparative liveries.

Both buses were out on Safeguard’s circular routes 4 and 5 serving the Royal Surrey County Hospital and the Park Barn residential area during my visit yesterday morning so although they’re both exactly the same, I went 80% round the circuit on one bus before alighting and crossing over the road to retrace my journey on the other.

It was interesting to compare driver techniques in handling the buses and many thanks to Graham who gave a superb ride and was very helpful and friendly showing me over the bus before departing from the bus station.

He was already a fan of them pointing out one had a registration KOD…

… and the other DUV, with the former sporting an image of a happy cod fish in the cab so drivers know which they’re in. I understand there’s a dove on order for the other bus.

I very much appreciated a quiet rattle free, smooth ride thanks not only to driving technique but the Euro 6 engine. The bus gave the impression of being a solidly built vehicle compared to its main competitor the ADL Enviro200.

These two buses have been specified by Andrew with 38 seats including three tip-ups in the nearside wheelchair bay.

Opposite this bay on the offside are a pair of double seats.

This configuration looks to suit the passenger profile on Safeguard’s three local city routes and has the advantage of offering 11 completely step free seats (including the tip-ups).

It was noticeable on the journey on route 5 from the bus station how nine of the 14 passengers who boarded in the town centre chose to occupy these step free seats with two taking the single seats either side of the gangway at the very front and only three sitting towards the back of the bus.

As you can see the buses have come with a smart new moquette for Safeguard which I thought looked very nice.

The seats are very comfortable and come with seat belts, and my first impression was the leg room was good, but I noticed the passenger sitting in front of me seemed less comfortable, and then I noticed my knees were almost touching the seat in front, but not quite, so there is just about enough room.

Any more leg room and it would mean less seats, and passengers maybe having to stand, so these things are always a compromise. Safeguard are currently running routes 4 and 5 each every 15 minutes in the morning peak, 12 minutes in the afternoon peak and 20 minutes during the daytime with a half hourly service in the evenings. Interestingly Sundays have a 15 minute frequency during shopping hours. Route 3 operates every 20 minutes.

The buses don’t have next stop announcements or displays but do come with USB ports in the sides of the bus rather than the backs of the seats in front, so only of use to passengers sitting next to the window.

However, journeys on Safeguard’s routes are relatively short, and I doubt they’ll get much use.

Towards the back, there are three steps as seats get progressively higher.

The rear five seats, often an afterthought for comfort, were not bad at all to sit in.

Graham showed me the three lighting arrangements including a daytime all white light …

… a night time blue tint…

…. and a mix of the two.

The drivers’ cab looked spacious and well laid out and the seat looked comfortable.

The moulding around the cab door doesn’t really allow for any welcoming notices to be affixed which is a shame.

All in all two very comfortable buses which were lovely to ride in and I overheard a mum telling her young son as she boarded what a lovely new bus this is.

It is.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThS

14 thoughts on “New Volvos for Safeguard

Add yours

  1. The number of seats v. legroom is indeed a compromise, but one has to ask how often it is that every seat on the bus is occupied and for what length of time. To provide seats for a handful of passengers for a few minutes each day means that other passengers sit in discomfort all day long.

    Jim Davies (height 1.88m)

    >

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    1. Giving more legroom also makes it easier for passengers seated by the window to get past an aisle-sitting passenger.
      I also find few buses (and trains) give me adequate leg room, but I am 6 ft 5in (1.96 in new money).

      I am also surprised that Safeguard bought a bus from someone other than Optare – I think the rest of the fleet is 100% Optare. Did Andrew Halliday give any reason for this?

      Lastly, the buses livery and presentation remind me of the late, lamented Epsom Buses operation.

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  2. What struck me was the dimensions of the bus (helpfully given in feet and inches) shown in Roger’s close up photo of the cab. Last Saturday I rode on a London Transport RF during the excellent Ensignbus running day which had a seating capacity 39 but was only 27ft 6in long by 7ft 6in wide. Sadly I didn’t see RF riding on a RF which would have been a photo worth taking.

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  3. Lack of next stop announcements/displays is surprising. In fact given it’s a legal requirement on rail I’m surprised it’s not mandated on new buses.

    One of my least favourite things about bus use anywhere unfamiliar has always been figuring out where to get off, especially in the dark. Now admittedly mitigated by being able to see where you are on Google maps but as you’ve rightly commented in the past not everyone has smartphone/data.

    Next stop announcements make it so much easier and less stressful. That said I don’t always appreciate the noise when it’s somewhere I am familiar with!

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      1. Point being that however much attention you pay it makes no difference if you don’t know what you’re looking for because you’ve not been there before…

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      2. You can pay attention but if you’re not familiar with the area, how do you know, Noel?

        In that respect, Next Stop Announcements are useful.

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      3. It’s not long ago that when I was in an area I was unfamiliar with I would ask the driver, or conductor, if they would call out the stop nearest to the place that I was going to, and they did so. I’m sure there are staff who are still happy to do that.

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  4. They look like nice vehicles. It’s a shame Safeguard sounds like an insurance company or something you put on the bodywork of a car.

    Warrington used to put a Welcome notice on the front window so it can be done

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