Bus operator Go North East has invested £6.9m on a fleet of new buses.
The Gateshead-based firm, part of the Go-Ahead Group, has bought 47 new vehicles and will phase out older models as part of modernisation efforts.
Following Go North East’s £30m investment on 100 new buses, and a major depot in Dunston, some 18 months ago, the latest vehicles are being used on the X66 Metrocentre Gateshead express route.
Intu Metrocentre mascots the Metrognomes feature on the buses’ livery and helped to launch the investment.
Go North East’s Red Kite service, which follows the Red Kite trail from Newcastle and Metrocentre to Rowlands Gill and Consett, will receive new vehicles, as will the Lime service.
The Lime is being renamed Coast & Country to reflect its route along the coast to country cycle track from Consett to Sunderland passing through Stanley, Beamish and Washington
The vehicles will be phased in over the next few months and are fitted with leather seats, LED lighting, wood effect flooring, free Wi-Fi, next stop announcements and USB and plug sockets.
Special engine technology which recovers braking energy to power on board systems that would otherwise require power from the engine, will also help the buses to reduce fuel consumption.
Go North East managing director Kevin Carr said: “Each year we have reinvested every penny of our profits back into improving services. These new vehicles will ensure our fleet is one of the most modern in the country.
“We have very loyal customers and we continue to innovate commercially to ensure they stay with us, by giving them features they tell us they appreciate including free wifi, plug sockets, next stop announcements and comfortable seats.”
Go North East has a fleet of 660 buses and employs around 2,100 staff. The company runs services in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham and Teesside.
A series of launch events are planned over the spring and summer to introduce the new vehicles and new brands into their local communities.