New and improved buses which are more environmentally friendly are being rolled out with the hope that drivers will make the swap to public transport.

Stagecoach North East has announced the introduction of 23 brand new buses to its Newcastle fleet, after an investment of £5.2m.

The new double decker ADL MMC Enviro 400 buses will run up to every six minutes as services 39 and 40, connecting the communities of Dumpling Hall, Chapel House, Fenham, Byker and Wallsend.

Operating from the company's Walkergate depot, the buses will feature state-of-the-art, Euro 6 engines equipped with stop-start technology for improved fuel efficiency and audio-visual next stop announcements with scrolling LED displays.

The journey experience has also been enhanced by improved comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi, USB charging points and contactless payments on board.

Gary Chisholm, engineering director at Stagecoach North East, said: "Embracing new technology and continually investing in improvements is helping to make life easier for all of our passengers.

"With increased traffic congestion on our roads, offering a greener way to travel with the inception of Euro 6 technology has never been so important."

Euro 6 buses emit less nitrogen oxides than a new Euro 6 diesel car and, as the bus has 15-20 times the carrying capacity of a typical car, just one bus can replace up to 75 car trips.

As congestion is costing the UK economy more than £13bn a year and bus organisations continue to invest in making buses a better choice, there has never been a better time to make the switch to public transport.

Stagecoach has been working with Newcastle council officers to improve bus priority within the city centre, with the aim of reducing journey times, improving reliability and making buses a better choice.

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes, Stagecoach managing director Steve Walker and members of NEAT at the Stagecoach bus launch
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes, Stagecoach managing director Steve Walker and members of NEAT at the Stagecoach bus launch

Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council , said: "Encouraging our residents to swap from their cars to public transport is an important move in helping to tackle climate change in Newcastle. Less cars on our roads means less pollution and reduces Newcastle’s carbon footprint, helping us achieve our ambitious target of being NetZero by 2030.

"I welcome this investment from Stagecoach in more environmentally friendly buses that will not only reduce their emissions but provide a modern, comfortable journey for their passengers."

The Stagecoach team has also been working with North East Action on Transport (NEAT), to develop the next stop announcement technology for passengers with visual impairments.

NEAT is an informal group with aims to make public transport more accessible to people with a visual impairment. The group is comprised of public transport users and staff from sight loss charities and organisations, such as Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and RNIB.

Angus Huntley, empowerment officer for Newcastle Vision Support, said: "North East Action on Transport welcomes the introduction of the new vehicles in Newcastle and the audio announcements and visual displays, which now make bus travel much more accessible to people with sight loss.

"We believe the introduction of this technology is an important step in improving the travel experience for people with sight loss, helping them to feel more confident and be more independent."

Steve Walker, managing director at Stagecoach North East, said: "We believe that breaking down barriers for those unfamiliar with bus travel is central to encouraging modal shift to public transport. We're delighted that this new technology is helping to make life easier for all of our passengers and making buses a better option.

"We would like to thank the team from NEAT for their valuable contribution."

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During 2016, £9m was invested in 43 new buses for the company's two Newcastle depots, and a further £3m investment was made earlier this year on 18 Enviro 200 buses in Teesside.

Recent research by KPMG shows that every £1 invested in bus services generates up to £8 in wider social, economic and environmental benefits.