10 UK bus liveries we really, really love

Buses of Somerset

If you saw our recent blog post ‘10 UK bus liveries we really, really miss’, you’re probably also aware of the tidal wave of ‘Hey, what about London and Country?!’ comments it generated. Part 2, however, is for another day – today, we’re focussing on the present.

This was an incredibly difficult ‘top 10’ to curate, with so many excellent liveries and colour schemes prevalent throughout the UK in 2016. In pulling together this list, it has become apparent that liveries are no longer simply glorified wallpaper for buses. There has been a seismic shift in terms of the way operators think about their brands. Driven in part by the excellent creative work undertaken by Ray Stenning’s Best Impressions (for which we make no apology that their work rightly dominates our top 10), today’s most forward-thinking brands are all about enhancing the customer experience.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in…

10. Buses of Somerset

Buses of Somerset 32961 - MIG4761

Inspired by the leafy green orchards and cider farms of beautiful Somerset, First’s shift towards establishing strong regional identities across its UK bus operations is evident here.

9. Brylaine

Brylaine Travel. Boston. Lincs T680 KPU in Boston.

Often forgotten and always under-appreciated, Lincolnshire operator Brylaine’s bold colour scheme is clean, modern, chunky and robust.

8. Stagecoach Gold

Stagecoach Gold

Stagecoach really was the pioneer in creating a template for ‘business class’ interurban bus travel, which has now been rolled out in a number of locations across the UK. The gold and royal blue exterior, combined with interior mood lighting and coach-style seating really helps to distinguish these vehicles from their ‘beachball’ cousins.

7. Lothian Buses

Lothian Buses 286 | BF63 HDC

Lothian’s livery is truly versatile and lends itself well to almost any type of vehicle, particularly the latest offerings from Wrightbus.

6. Bluestar

Go South Coast (Bluestar) 2735 HF65CXH in Southampton on service 18 duties.

There’s something deeply satisfying about the shade of blue used for the Bluestar brand. The latest incarnation of the brand sees a tasteful thin yellow vertical stripe delightfully picking out the subtle route branding.

5. Stagecoach X5

Stagecoach Cambus 54318 YX64WDD at Milton Keynes Railway Station.

Perhaps one of the most eye-catching, jaw-dropping liveries ever to grace a coach. However, it’s not the only branding applied to the stunningly curvaceous Plaxton Elite which has made this list…

4. Arriva Sapphire

Arriva The Shires 5469 SN15LPZ in Oxford nearing the end of its working on a 280 service from Aylesbury.

First we had Gold, and now we have Sapphire…Arriva’s sparkling premium bus brand dangles the commuter a carrot, squarely aimed at tempting potential customers out of their cars.

3. Red Arrow

Trent Barton: 82 / YX65 ZHM 'Prancer'

Trent Barton’s revised Red Arrow literally stole the show at Coach and Bus Live 2015 (check out our round-up of that event). On the streets of Nottingham and Derby, there is quite simply nothing else to compare it to – it commands respect in every way imaginable.

2. Stagecoach Falcon

*Launch* Stagecoach South West YX65VXV

Yes, it’s a triple whammy for the Elite as Stagecoach South West’s striking ‘Falcon’ brand swoops in at number two. The triadic colour scheme is delightful; the powerful bright green beautifully picks out the Elite’s unmistakeable rounded features.

1. Transdev Harrogate’s 36

Transdev Harrogate & District 3623 BL65YYW turns into Kings Rd with a 36 Leeds - Harrogate service.

If you came here hoping to be surprised, we’re very sorry to disappoint. Let’s face it – there’s only one bus operator which has truly ‘redefined’ vehicle branding in 2016 – Transdev in Harrogate with their 36. Perhaps Best Impressions’ finest hour to date, it’s hard to see what, if anything, is going to come along and beat it – until the next incarnation of the 36 lands, of course.

So, that’s our ‘top 10’ of all that the current UK bus scene has to offer – which liveries would make your list? We’d love to know – write in the comments below, or drop us a tweet @transportdsn.

And before you go – how about a trip down memory lane?


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15 Responses

  1. Love this article, I have to say that I like the liveries on them all, but I have to bias with the 36 aswell. That must have taken some time to whittle down the liveries, good work.

  2. What a great article, certainly given me some inspiration for a future post. I too echo Scott’s comment, it isn’t easy getting so many unique and inspirational liveries down to a list of 10, I certainly agree with the majority of your listing.

  3. I’m sorry but every single one of those is without exception awful. They all suffer from clashing colours, swoops that don’t follow the lines of the vehicle, and/or silly garish branding. The Buses of Somerset is probably the best of that bad bunch but still has a silly name. No wonder enthusiasm for buses is waning if this is the best our livery designers can do.

    As for what I think should be number one, it unbelievably doesn’t even get a mention here. I’m talking about The Delaine’s classy and restrained traditional livery that hasn’t changed for decades and still looks elegant on modern vehicles.

    1. The Delaine almost made it in here, I agree, it’s a really beautiful livery that has stood the test of time. Others were also very close – Ensign a notable example.

  4. Although I agree with most of these being well up there in a top twenty liveries, I cant see how the Brylaine livery gets into the list. Just look too jarring and overly fussy. As much as I like the simplicity of the Bluestar livery I am not convinced it can go down at such a high position in the list either. The Falcon is stunning though and would be my number one. One that I am surprised to see not in the list is Travel West Midlands who have a few schemes that are right up there amongst the best – the Platinum version being stunning

    1. Thanks for your comments Graham – agreed, could have easily compiled a top 20 with everything out there at the moment! Brylaine makes it in purely because it’s so different to anything else at the moment, it’s bold and almost badly designed, but unapologetically so. I’m personally not a huge fan of NXWM Platinum – I think it will date very quickly, and compared to some of the other ‘premium’ brands which have made this list it’s more of a ‘NX slightly upgraded’. See – not a fan of absolutely everything Best Impressions! 🙂

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