A Georgian estate house yesterday provided the backdrop for the launch of the new buses being introduced on a vital north-east route.
Stagecoach North Scotland have bought 15 electric-hybrid double-deckers for their 35 service, which serves 15 towns between Elgin and Aberdeen.
The environmentally-friendly vehicles were revealed at a showcase event for the £3.5 million investment at Duff House in Banff.
They will be based at the transport firm’s depot in Macduff and feature leather seats, seatbelts, free wi-fi, USB charging points and contactless payment facilities.
It is hoped the buses will reduce CO2 and NOx emissions in the region when they get on the road this weekend.
The buses also have an onboard system called GreenRoad to provide drivers with instant feedback on their driving to improve and promote fuel-efficiency.
And tourism bosses may even help visitors see the north-east’s dolphin population.
Passengers will be able to get a look at the new fleet tomorrow when it they make their debut on the route.
Last night, tourism bosses welcomed their introduction and said they will help “open up” attractions in Banffshire and Moray.
Chris Foy, chief executive of Visit Aberdeenshire, said: “Excellent transport links are an important element of our north-east visitor experience and the eco-credentials of this new service highlights the importance of long-term sustainability.
“A high quality service north from Aberdeen will help to open up the coastal attractions of Banffshire for our independent travellers.”
Laurie Piper, operations manager at Moray Speyside Tourism, agreed and said the buses will provide passengers will a chance to explore everything the region has to offer.
She said: “The Moray Coast is world-renowned for its beauty, history and its wildlife.
“It is one of National Geographic’s top rated coastlines and home to one of the largest colonies of bottlenose dolphins in Europe.
“The new fleet of Stagecoach buses will give visitors and residents to the region an easy, sustainable way to travel and experience this most beautiful part of Scotland.”
David Liston, managing director of Stagecoach North Scotland, said he was excited to be able to offer the new fleet to their customers.
He said: “We know that service 35 is a vital service for the communities we connect and our new fleet will not only reduce the impact on the environment but they will also allow us to improve our punctuality for customers.”