Santa Claus is coming to town

Guildford is a hub of Christmas activity at the moment!

Arriva have decorated Enviro 200 MMC 4089 (YX17 NYB) with festive images such as snowflakes, penguins, elves, polar bears and of course Father Christmas himself. They are also leaving teddy bears on board buses at random. News that isn’t quite so happy for the festive period though comes from an article published by Surrey Live this evening. It claims that the operator has sent a letter to its 120 Guildford-based drivers informing them that the depot is now running at a loss following recent contract losses. This possibly started with the Park & Ride transferring to Stagecoach, but presumably refers more to the recent awarding of a contract for university bus provision to Stagecoach, and the loss of the part-81 and 437/462/463 council contracts to White Bus. The news article claims that Arriva plan to terminate the employment contracts of its drivers, before then re-employing them with a lower salary. You can read the full article by clicking here.

Stagecoach regularly decorate a bus in both Basingstoke and Portsmouth, which then tour their home town’s network with Santa in the driving seat. Locally, both Guildford and Aldershot depots have decorated a bus with imagery and ‘Merry Christmas’ lettering, however these currently just run regular routes with normal drivers. Both being Enviro 200s, Guildford’s vehicle of choice is 36435 (GX61 AYO), whilst Aldershot’s similarly treated 36916 (YX63 KFE) is in fact currently on loan to Guildford meaning both can be found on routes out of the town. Aldershot’s will be returning next week though, when Santa will be at the helm and running to this timetable.

Hallmark are also decorating their vehicles, but less obviously so as part of a competition they are running. A snowman was touring their Surrey network 1st-7th, an elf at the moment 8-14th, a reindeer next week 15-21st, and finally Santa 22-24th. Passengers contacting the company via social media using the hashtag #FestiveFleetFinder, with the date, time and location of their sightings, could win a network day pass worth £8.

Safeguard haven’t decorated any vehicles to the best of my knowledge, however Santa will be taking to the wheel on Monday 17th December. The operator is holding a ‘Festive Fun Day’ between 10am and 4pm at Guildford Bus Station, which will feature Santa driving a bus but donating his fares to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity.

Destination blinds have also been modified to display Christmas symbols – mostly Christmas trees – and messages on a number of local operators including Hallmark, Stagecoach and White Bus.

Finally, you can check what our local operators are running over the festive period on our Christmas & New Year page.

Arriva’s YX17 NYB in Guildford – CHRIS ERRETT


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