With major changes due by the end of Summer 2015, the history of the Park-&-Ride network of services in Norwich can be traced back to the early 1990s with the establishment of the first site at the city’s airport. Progressively other purpose-built sites were opened at Costessy, Harford, Postwick, Sprowston and Thickthorn all up and running by 2005. Buses operated on the services in the early days were Leyland Nationals, Dennis Darts and Scania saloons.
Between 2005-2010 local council contracts saw the sites managed and operated by three companies: First, konectbus and Norse, the latter the bus and coach operating arm of Norfolk County Council. Thickthorn Park & Ride was operated by konectbus using pink VDL Bus DB250/Wrightbus Pulsar Gemini's, Harford Park & Ride by First using blue Volvo B7TL/Alexander Dennis ALX400's, Airport by Norse using yellow Irisbus Agora Line's saloons, Costessey by konectbus using green Optare Tempos, Postwick by Norse using Irisbus Agora Lines and Sprowston by First with purple Volvo B7RLE/Eclipse Urban's.
The current contracts run from 2010-2015 and are operated as follows.
Route 601 to/from Thickthorn on the south west side of the city and is currently operated by konectbus, now part of the Go-Ahead Group, using the fleet of three pink liveried VDL Bus/Wrightbus double-deckers.
Route 602 to/from Harford on the south side currently also run by konectbus with three blue Dennis Trident/ADL Enviro400 double-deckers.
Route 603 to/from Norwich International Airport to the north operated by Norse with four ex.London General TransBus Trident/President double-deckers in turquoise livery.
Route 604 to/from Costessy on the west side, alongside the Royal Norfolk Showground is the third route operated by konectbus currently with three Mercedes-Benz Citaro G articulated single-deckers. These are also ex.London General and originally used on the Red Arrow routes in Central London.
Routes 605 and 606 were originally operated separately as Postwick (605) to the east and Sprowston (606) to the north east. In 2011 Norfolk County Council merged the two routes in order to create a cross-city service. They are also operated by Norse with TransBus Tridents, three in purple and three in an orange/red livery.
Norse also operate some of their fleet in a common white-based livery to be used as and when required on any of their three routes.
Now though with the current contracts to end in September, significant changes are due to be made. Konectbus will take over the running of all six routes on the network, using a fleet of brand new ADL Enviro400 double-deckers, supplemented by the bendibuses and one of the current double-deckers on route 602.
In addition the company will also assume the overall operation of the main Norwich bus station and all the Park-&-Ride sites.
Interesting times ahead.