▸ Livery: with its tropical beach theme and similar use of graphics, the "Whey Aye Five O" brand would later bear resemblance to the "Drifter" and "Coaster" liveries, the routes for which all appropriately served areas along the coastline.
"Whey Aye Five O" was a play on the title of the American television series, Hawaii Five-O and was tailored to Geordie locals with their 'whey aye' exclamation (meaning "of course"). Since surfing resorts and glamorous white beaches are what the Hawaiian Islands are renowned for, illustrations of palm trees and surfers riding tall waves acted as the principal imagery on the livery design. Accompanying the sky blue base colour of the branded vehicles was a palette of exotic colours which different elements of the livery were filled in. With the likes of red, orange and yellow being implemented into the graphics, maximum contrast was achieved against the base coat, all while demonstrating the tropical Hawaiian concept that the brand endeavoured to communicate.
As standard, text branding was written along the cant rails of the vehicles — in this instance, written in the VAG Rounded Bold font. To match the livery's colour scheme, the route via points were filled in red and the frequency of the brand's services in orange. Also placed over the cant rails were illustrations of seagulls, in addition to a green variant of the logo's 'Five O' section.
The standout part of the composition was the large wave towards the back of the vehicles, which almost extended their full height. The size of the wave meant it almost entirely covered three windows, prompting the use of Contra Vision vinyl to alleviate an obstructed outside view for passengers onboard. As it transpired, the Contra Vision was still problematic in facilitating this clearer view from inside, although the wave was left on throughout the entirety of the brand's active life.
▸ Vehicles: the original allocation to the brand was a batch of six Scania L94UB/Wright Solar vehicles, which remained in use until 2014 when they were taken over by six higher spec Scania CN230UB/Scania OmniCity vehicles; the OmniCitys featured onboard WiFi as part of Go North East's dedication to customer service. A later PVR increase in 2016 saw a further five OmniCity vehicles be added to the brand, followed be a sixth after services changes took place in January 2018.
▸ Routes: services 50 (South Shields to Durham) and 50A (South Shields to Chester-le-Street) were the two routes under the brand initially, until former "South Tyne" service 5 (South Shields to Jarrow) was added to it and began interworking with them in 2016.
▸ Discontinuation: "Whey Aye Five O" was sadly discontinued in April 2019 due to the newly-appointed managing director's dislike for excessive and, in some cases, unnecessary brands within Go North East's network. It was the final brand to be removed ahead of the major overhaul that the company underwent around a month later. As as result, its allocated Scania OmniCity vehicles were the last in the entire fleet to be repainted into the 2016 corporate livery as a new version was established in line with the upcoming rebrand.
Scania L94UB/Wright Solar version (2011–2013)
At first, the "Whey Aye Five O" routes were operated by six Wright Solar vehicles (fleet numbers 4926–31), all of which had been based at the former Gateshead depot beforehand and carried the livery for the "Fab Fifty Seven" brand. In 2011, when "Fab Fifty Seven" received a batch of dual-doored Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renown vehicles from Oxford Bus Company, the Wright Solars were repainted into a light blue base and cascaded to Chester-le-Street depot. There, they were given general allocation to routes 50 and 50A, for which they would soon be given a dedicated identity for in the form of the newly-established "Whey Aye Five O" brand.
4926–31 were the very first Wright Solar vehicles to arrive into the Go North East fleet, having been ordered in 2001. Operating for sixteen years before their phased withdrawal between 2017–18, they were the last buses in the fleet to include the old prefix registration plate system that was issued in the United Kingdom between 1983 and 2001. The format for these particular vehicles was Yxxx ERG, where xxx was the last three numbers of each vehicle's fleet number. For instance, the registration for fleet number 4931 (illustrated below) was Y931 ERG.
In early 2014, the allocated Wright Solars were repainted into the standard red base colour that acted as Go North East's fleet livery at the time, following the "Whey Aye Five O" brand being upgraded to WiFi-equipped Scania CN230UB/Scania OmniCity vehicles. The Wright Solars remained in service at Chester-le-Street depot with a general allocation to route X25 (Langley Park to Newcastle). After numerous depot movements and a further three to four years in active service, they were withdrawn from the Go North East fleet and sold for scrap.
A drawing of 4931 can be seen below, depicting the Wright Solar version of the "Whey Aye Five O" livery.
Scania CN230UB/Scania OmniCity version (2013–2019)
January 2014 saw six Scania OmniCity vehicles (fleet numbers 5255–60) be transferred over to Chester-le-Street depot for services 50/50A in order to replace their formerly allocated Wright Solars. Fitted with onboard WiFi, they acted as an upgrade for passengers on the routes as part of Go North East's customer service improvements. Formerly, the six vehicles had been based at Percy Main depot, where they carried the "Cobalt Clipper" livery for services 309/310/X39. Ahead of transfer to Chester-le-Street, they were repainted into the "Whey Aye Five O" brand's light blue base livery, with branding applied at a later date.
Former "South Tyne" service 5 was added to the brand in 2014, which saw an additional five Scania OmniCitys (fleet numbers 5243–47) be repainted accordingly to fulfil the new peak vehicle requirement while maintaining consistency with the vehicle type used. Like with 5255–60, they were previously stationed at Percy Main depot, where all but one were branded for "Cobalt Connect"; 5247 had been branded in the "Northern" red base livery as a spare for Percy Main-based services.
Prior to service changes effective from 17th April 2016, the eleven Scania OmniCity vehicles had a depot change from Chester-le-Street to Washington, where services 50 and 50A would then begin operating from following the addition of service 5 to the brand.
Services changes from 28th January 2018 saw service 5 be extended from Jarrow to North Shields to replace that section of the route formerly covered by service 9. This resulted in the services' peak vehicle requirement increasing by one, which was covered by 5254; it was repainted from its red base livery and transferred from Percy Main to Washington depot.
The Scania OmniCity vehicles remained in the "Whey Aye Five O" livery until the brand's demise in March 2019, whereby all of the examples were repainted into the 2016 fleet livery and services 5, 50 and 50A became 'basic' services.
A drawing of the Scania OmniCity version of "Whey Aye Five O" will be coming at a later date.
Date last modified: 2nd August 2021
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