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  • AWFUL Customer services (and that's the polite version...)
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    4 Reviews
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    • More +
      11.10.2010 14:20
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      A great service that I cannot fault

      I live in Nottingham and started working in Derby a few months ago, so I have to catch the bus daily between the two cities. When comparing prices on trains, coaches etc, I came across the Red Arrow.

      *The bus*
      The Red Arrow is run by Trent Barton buses and runs directly between Nottingham and Derby city centres. There are no stops inbetween and the bus takes the quickest route possible. This is great as it only takes around 40 minutes to get there. I usually catch the 8.05am bus into Derby and arrive for 8.45, which is great considering it is peak time aswell!
      The buses themselves have leather seating, whic is amazingly comfortable and really makes a difference compared to other buses. Also, as it is quite a long trip, this makes the trip more enjoyable, as I would not enjoy sitting in your standard bus seat for 40 minutes. The seats also give you more privacy, which I don't really need but I hate it when people stare at me on the bus.
      Furthermore, the buses have air conditioning and you can mess around with the vent so that it is directly on your face or pointing in another direction. You can also close the vent so that the air does not touch you at all.
      Making the service even better, the bus has free wifi. This is great when I have my ipod with me because I can connect to the internet and listen to music on Youtube :)

      *Fares*
      As I catch the bus before 9am and after 5pm, I have to pay peak time prices. A return to Derby during peak time is £5.70, a little steep but the cheapest way to get to Derby from Nottingham. I'm not sure how much fares are out of peak times.
      I catch the bus 5 days a week, so to pay for a return everyday would cost me a little under £30 a week. You can buy a weekly ticket from the driver, which lasts for 7 consecutive days. This costs £23, which is a great saving to me. Plus, if I need to rush into work on the weekends, I don't have to pay out anything extra.
      Trent Barton also have a Mango card saver scheme, where you top up your card online and receive 25% off a single fare. However, this does not work out cheaper than the weekly ticket option on the Red Arrow.

      *The drivers*
      The drivers on the service are amazing! Each and every one is extremely polite and always greets you with a smile and thanks you when you get off the bus. If someone who is in a wheelchair wants to get on the bus, the driver will get off the bus to open a door which gives access to a wheelchair lift, and will aid the customer onto the bus.

      *Services*
      The bus runs every 10 minutes, monday to saturday, during the day. I believe that it runs either every 30 or 60 minutes on Sundays.

      Overall, I cannot fault Trent Barton on their Red Arrow service. I have only ever received the highest standard of service from them and am happy to catch this bus everyday.

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    • More +
      26.10.2009 14:53
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      An almost faultless bus service

      Trent Barton is one of my local bus companies, and probably the best-known company in Nottingham, I would say. They operate a range of bus services both within Nottingham and as far out as Derby, and a lot of bus services could learn a thing or two from them!

      One of the most well-known set of buses are the 'Rainbow' buses. Each is a different colour on the outside, and they follow common routes from the outskirts of Nottingham to the city centre and back. There used to be five of them, but the Rainbow 5 has now been renamed 'indigo' for some reason, which I'll cover in a minute. The Rainbow buses and the indigo cost £1.60 for a single journey within a certain (wide) area of Nottingham, double that for a return, or you can buy a Kangaroo ticket and 'hop' on and off all day. These tickets are also valid on Nottingham city council buses, which is incredibly handy for people like me who live between two routes.

      They also have a range of other tickets such as Mango monthly passes, and the 'Frio', where you buy 13 journeys for the price of 10 (particularly useful to share with someone else in your household as your ticket just gets punched every time and no name is required).

      The indigo bus goes from Beeston past the university, through Lenton and into town. It's very popular with students and runs every six or seven minutes until late at night, where it becomes far less frequent but runs until 3am on weekends. This bus is worth going on just for the first class feel - it's been upgraded to have real leather seats and laminate effect wood flooring. The stops are all shown digitally, and they are also spoken by an East Midlands newsreader so you know when to get off.

      Other Trent Barton buses include the red 'Trent Barton' bus, which follows a similar route into town as a couple of the rainbows, and costs the same price. There's also the 'red arrow', which is a coach-like bus for longer journeys from Derby to Nottingham and back, and is more expensive but still cheaper than the train.

      The price of the buses typically goes up by 10p a year, which is quite reasonable considering the amount that the service improves each year. I think it's the sign of a good company when they completely upgrade their buses and services despite being in a recession - not only do they provide a service which people like, but they don't try and hoard money with sneaky tricks and excuses.

      There are a few people that complain about Trent Barton, particularly the prices going up, but in my opinion they are very reasonable. Especially when you take into consideration some parts of the country *cough* Swindon *cough* where you pay more than that for a much poorer service that is inefficient and covers a small area.

      The only complaint I have is that I could do with a Trent Barton bus going a bit closer to my house as the nearest stop is just under a ten minute walk away. However, when I was a student I found the buses amazing, and they are very useful to me now if I'm visiting friends in Beeston after work. They are also much more regular than the city council bus near my house, so I often get an indigo instead of waiting 40 minutes.

      Overall, Trent Barton are everything a good bus service should be, and it's not surprising they are so well used.

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      • More +
        24.04.2007 21:59

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        i now live in the usa after living in nottinghamshire for over 30years and the thing i miss about the uk and nottingham is the bus service which i beliveis the best in the uk. i live in a small town called chastworth g.a. and we dont have a bus service at all so that for the best service in the uk elaine tina roberts.

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      • More +
        30.11.2003 01:27
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        • "AWFUL Customer services (and that's the polite version...)"

        Trent Barton (by their own claim) is one of the few remaining independent bus companies left in the UK and they have been around in one guise or another for the best part of a century. With a fleet of over 300 buses and employing roughly 1,000 local people, they are based in Henor, Derbyshire and run routes throughout Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and as far to the north as Manchester. This leads them to the belief that they can offer a better and more personal service than their rivals. But does it work like that in practice? ~ Routes/Timetables ~ As a generalisation, Trents buses cover the vast majority of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire but they do partake in small forays into north Leicestershire and south Yorkshire; one bus also runs to Manchester via Stockport. The bulk of their routes link estates to each other and smaller communities to each other and to the larger towns/cities but they do partake in a small amount of cross-country provision. How often buses travel along their given routes depends on where you live, the time of day, the day of the week and more importantly, what competition there is. In high density commuter areas, a Trent bus is likely to appear before your very eyes every 5 minutes or so. If you live in a smaller town with no other bus operator in competition, your service will probably be around a bus every half an hour. In a smaller town WITH another bus operator running a similar route the frequency of buses will be stepped up. The Nottingham to Manchester Trans Peak service is timetabled to run at 2-hourly intervals. During peak hours some routes have a more frequent service, however this isnt necessarily the case as quite a few routes have a high density of buses running along them all day. Off peak services vary tremendously. Evening services on some routes are infrequent at best and non-existent on others apart from Friday and Saturday nights when they can cash in on the pubbers and c
        lubbers? ~ Fares ~ Trent has a mind-boggling range of fares available and you really have to be clued-in to know which will offer you the best value. There is also no real consistency in cost/distance so it is hard to get on a different route for the first time and have a clue as to the price. Single fares offer the poorest value for money, but are not charged at a uniform rate regarding distance unless you travel within Nottinghams City boundary, where there is a flat rate £1 fare. A single fare to Hucknall from Nottingham, a distance of around 8 miles ? costs £1.25 currently. A trip to Bingham from Nottingham, a trip of comparable duration/distance costs less than a Pound. The explanation I have been given is that certain routes suffer more congestion, which in turn makes buses more expensive to run. Fair enough but all it does is lead to confusion for the passenger. A TWO-TRIP ticket is one of two names given to a return fare. These are the only return tickets sold during peak travel hours, or you will need one for when you plan to make the reverse journey at peak time regardless of when you started out. SUPERSAVERS on the other hand are the off-peak return option and are of course cheaper than the two-trip alternative. Again confusion abounds as to the pricing structure in the same manner as single fares. Both tickets are open-ended; in other words you dont have to make the second half of your trip on the same day and you can make the second journey in the same direction as the first. If youre not already confused enough there are several other ticket options available. A FRIO ticket gives you 13 single trips between two fixed points of your choice for the price of 10. Paid for in advance on the bus you can use them all yourself or have the driver clip the ticket for however many of you there are travelling at any one time. A CASH SAVER ticket represents the best value for money for those travelling on a daily
        basis. Costing £28 for travel within the Nottingham City boundary and £47 for limited areas beyond (to a distance of roughly 8/10 miles); these can be purchased from the Trent office in the Broadmarsh Bus Station (Nottingham). They come in their own little plastic wallet, bear the holders name and photograph and last for 28 days at a time. ZIGZAG tickets again come in two choices, or should I say prices! This is a "one day use go anywhere" option, but you need to know where you will be heading before purchasing as it does make a difference. The £3.50 zigzag is valid on all Trent buses but NOT north of Bakewell. The £5.95 alternative is the one that is TRULY valid on all Trent buses. There is also a family zigzag ticket; the price is currently £7.50. Concessions are available for all tickets except the Cash Saver and represent exact half-fares in just about all cases. If all that has given you a headache ? try living with it! One positive thing though is that you do NOT need the correct change when you get on the bus - all drivers carry change. A far superior system in my experience. ~ BUSES/DRIVERS ~ Trent must boast one of the youngest bus fleets in the country. Most buses are no more than four years old and have low-floors (and can kneel), buggy/wheelchair zones, air conditioning/heaters, bins (not that you would know it half the time), are smoke-free and double-glazed. Most now boast a new bright red livery although the Rainbow services come in all colours of? yep you guessed it! These aforementioned vehicles are usually clean, or at least they are on the outside. Trent say on their website that they pride themselves as being one of the few companies that clean inside the buses in full public view; in other words during the day. Now I have seen a few routes get this prestige service, but from personal experience the majority do not. The floors/seats of the buses on the three routes I regularly use ar
        e usually paper and wrapper strewn before midday. Explosions in a food factory would sometimes be appropriate words to use! Whilst I am not blaming the bus company for the habits of some passengers, I do feel that promises made should maybe be kept. As the majority of the fleet is pretty new they do have a fairly high comfort factor for passengers. The buses are on the whole nice and warm in the winter and cool in the summer ? but a combination of powerful air-conditioning and open windows in the summer can tend to leave passengers at the back looking a little wind-swept! On the whole the majority of buses do appear to run pretty much to schedule and for the most part, where delays occur it isnt Trent?s fault. Increasing congestion means buses get held up in areas where there are no bus lanes for example, inconsiderate car-parking which blocks bus routes is another eternal headache. In any case, when you become familiar with your regular route, you learn its little time keeping quirks. Reliability, or as I have come to call it in recent months ?Will I have to get off and push?? is, as you can maybe tell, an area they definitely could improve on. In just the last month I have personally been on/seen FOUR buses that have broken down and this is just on ONE route. One driver told me that the company KNEW the bus was faulty but refused to do anything about it until the inevitable occurred. The words "just not good enough" are the politest I can think of? The drivers are this bus companys redeeming quality. Overall they are fantastic - friendly, helpful, chatty, polite and considerate to all of their passengers. They tend to stick to just one or two routes, which allows them to get to know their regular customers and vice versa. This makes for a far more pleasant start and end to your journey. They are not only each passengers every day contact with the bus company but generally speaking the best people to ask with any min
        or query. Of course there are exceptions to every rule ? but you quickly learn which drivers are the best. ~ Customer Services ~ So what happens if you have a question your driver cannot answer? What if you need route/timetable/fare information? The best place to go to is Trents office in the Broadmarsh Bus Station. The staff there are friendly and polite and answer all questions efficiently and most importantly ? with a smile. But what if you cant get to a Travel office? The short answer to that one would be "wait until you can"! You could try e mailing them via the website but answers are not swiftly given and blunt when they are, so therefore in my experience this isnt recommended. This is, however still preferable to the nightmare that lurks at the other end of the dreaded Customer Service Helpline. I call it something else entirely? When I have managed to get past the automated scenario and spoken to a real person I have found that they are not only extremely unhelpful, but also rude, patronising and seem more concerned with how stressful their own day is than helping their customers. When you have had this experience, dont bother complaining. They go deaf. Very very deaf. ~ In Summary ~ They do have some good ideas. They have excellent money saving tickets for example, but they can get lost in the quagmire of just too many options and a muddled and very confusing fare structure. They train the drivers well but at times fail completely to tell them what is going on with route/timetable changes, thus rendering this counter-productive. They have clearly invested heavily in new vehicles and then, apparently, fail to maintain them properly. A shiny new bus is neither use nor ornament when it is stuck at the side of the road, going nowhere and full of disgruntled passengers. In areas they cover where there is competition from a rival bus company it is likely you wont hear a single word of
        complaint regarding Trent or its services. Buses here are spotless and frequent. If you are however unfortunate enough to live in an area where you ONLY have Trent providing you with a bus service (as I do), then it is highly likely that your bus service will be at the lower end of the acceptability scale. Now is probably an appropriate juncture to announce that Trent buses have just been crowned "Bus Operator of the Year" for the third time in five years. Yes, really! An industry given award it is public transports equivalent of the Oscars; i.e. not passenger generated. If it was? well they wouldnt get a pat on the back from me! Trent has, in the past, worked very hard in my area at driving out the competition. The knock-on effect to this of course is we are now left with a second rate service that we have no choice but to accept. This is hardly what you would expect from an award winning company. We?ve just suffered a scathing round of bus-cuts, which has left in its wake a confusing new timetable and us with no evening services from Sunday to Thursday. I have been left with the belief that Trent cares about nothing except for profit; routes full of commuters during peak hours have been labelled "unviable". We are not the only ones. I glance regularly at their website and see many other routes are/have been suffering the same fate. I used to be a huge fan of Trent buses. I have even worked for them. It is unfortunate then that nowadays there are more things wrong with the way things are set up than right. All the hard work being put in by the drivers, all the money being spent on new vehicles is being completely wasted by poor decision making and, from how I see things, money coming above anything and everyone. If you need to get from A to B during Peak hours or are fortunate enough to live on a main commuter route then you really couldnt do any better than have Trent as your bus company. If those two sta
        tements dont apply to you ? you have my deepest sympathies. For further information go to http://www.trentbuses.co.uk

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