October 2015 saw Go North East's "The Highwayman" identity be rebranded as "Green Arrow", along with which came improvements to the frequency of its encompassing 97 service, operating between Newcastle, Whickham and the Metrocentre.
▸ Livery: the principal feature of the new livery was a target board towards the back of the nearside and offside faces, which was made up of three differently coloured rings and a dart pointing out. The graphic took full advantage of the vehicle height, resulting in the window sections being printed onto Contra Vision transparency film so as not to obstruct the view for passengers inside.
Positioned between the two wheel arches, the brand's logo was stylised in uppercase lettering and written in the Twentienth Century and Avenir typefaces. Where the word 'GREEN' and frequency branding were set in the Regular variant of Twentieth Century, 'ARROW' was displayed in Avenir Black and had its 'O' character represented by the target board graphic found towards the back of the bus. Each of the letters in the logo appropriately contained a gradient fill between two shades of lime green. Beneath the logo was frequency branding associated with the service — in this instance up to every 10 minutes — with the number '10' presented in a bolder text weight for emphasis.
The route branding visual exhibited a bright green pointed flag banner that spanned the length of the cant rail along both sides. Journey points for service 97 were placed inside and filled in a colour resembling the base paint. They were written in the Bold weight of the DIN typeface, the style of which Go North East had recently chosen for displaying route information on all promotional brands.
Shortly after being unveiled, "Green Arrow" shared its identity with a blue counterpart — appropriately titled "Blue Arrow" — released for newly launched services 11/11A/11X (Whitley Bay to the Metrocentre).
▸ Vehicles: the brand's allocation comprised ten of the Scania L94UB/Wright Solar vehicle type, all of which were carried over from its predecessor. The peak vehicle requirement dropped from twelve to ten with the removal of services 98/98A, resulting in fleet numbers 4932 and 4933 being repainted into Go North East's corporate red base livery to act as spare vehicles while stationed at Riverside depot.
"Green Arrow" constituted vehicles primarily of sporadic fleet numbers, those specifically being 4938, 4940, 4941, 4944, 4947, 4948, 4967, 5218, 5227 and 5228. In this allocation, 4938–48 were examples manufactured in the original, 2000 version of the Wright Solar bodywork. This differentiated from the later, 2004 version through the absence of a large roof ventilation pod near the front; 5218–28 in the allocation were some of those in this newer release. Another inconsistency with the vehicles making up the allocation was the front face Hanover destination blind units: where six of the vehicles included a 36x19-dot full colour section on the righthand side, the remainders were fitted with the standard full amber version — the full colour section allowed the route number to stand out from the adjacent destination and via points by being tinged a different colour. At the time "Green Arrow" was launched, the numbers in the destination blinds had recently undergone reconfiguration to have them displayed in white while emulating the Arial font.
Although the brand was unveiled in late 2015, by which time a number of Go North East services had been upgraded with premium features, its Wright Solar vehicles were kept in the same condition as they had been under "The Highwayman". The relaunch therefore lacked any additional benefits to customers, although the service frequency was increased to up to every 10 minutes to provide extra journeys along busier corridors, the Metrocentre in particular.
▸ Routes: from "The Highwayman", service 97 was the only route to be carried over to the "Green Arrow" brand, as both the 98/98A were fully suspended in conjunction with the overhaul. To accompany it and make up for those losses, however, two additional services were introduced: 97A and express service X97. The X97, operating at peak times on weekdays only, offered a more direct journey for passengers commuting between Newcastle and Whickham by omitting the entire Metrocentre corridor of the route, thereby whittling down the 70-minute journey time of the standard 97 to around half an hour. The 97A interworked with the 97, operating between Newcastle and Broadway (in Whickham) on the outbound journey, and between Fellside Park and Newcastle on the inbound journey. Like the X97, it missed out the Metrocentre section.
Service changes from 21st July 2019 heavily impacted the "Green Arrow" workings, seeing the 97 reduce to a 15-minute frequency cycle from its former 10. This was met with the route being extended to Eldon Square Bus Station in Newcastle, with journeys travelling via Newcastle Central Station to provide connections with rail and other bus services. Service 97A, introduced when the brand was launched, was completely withdrawn as a result of inadequate passenger numbers on most journeys. The Whickham section of this route was substituted by a new, albeit short-lived, circular 197 service that operated on a 20-minute cycle from morning until early afternoon (the 197 would be withdrawn seven months later, during the era of the brand's revised version).
▸ Discontinuation: following a four year period under the original "Green Arrow" identity, the 97 was given an upgrade in October 2019 with a batch of new ADL Dart SLF 5/ADL Enviro 200MMC vehicles as part of a £1.8 million investment. Along with a striking new livery, conforming to Go North East's 2019 'roadstripe' house style, the vehicles facilitated free WiFi, a new fabric-leather seating style in red, USB charging ports at every seat (with wireless charging facilities available at some), mobile device holders, and audio-visual next stop announcement systems. Lower emissions given off by the new buses prompted the "Green Arrow" title to be kept on, as a way of emphasising the environmental attributes of the buses.
When the new batch of Enviro 200MMC vehicles were delivered, the former Wright Solar examples were withdrawn in order to be scrapped or sold on to other operators for future use. Go North East then proceeded to phase out the entire vehicle type from their fleet due to their inability to be converted to Euro 6 emission standards, mandatory of all buses operating in Newcastle upon Tyne from July 2022 with the introduction of its Clean Air Zone initiative.
A drawing of 4967 can be seen below, depicting the original "Green Arrow" livery.
Date last modified: 10th May 2022
▸ "The Highwayman" — preceded the brand
▸ "Blue Arrow" — shared its identity with the brand
▸ Green Arrow [v2] — succeeded the brand [coming soon]
If you have any other information to contribute towards this page, feel free to contact me on one of the links provided below.