Skylink Derby

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One of the things I love about traveling by bus is that it gives you the opportunity to visit places without having to worry about driving, parking, etc. On the whole Derby is well connected to numerous towns and cities via the local bus network with regular services to places including Nottingham, Burton, and Leicester. And it’s Leicester that was the my chosen destination to visit whilst on my latest break back home in the East Midlands, and naturally I would opt to go there by bus. For this journey I would hop onboard the Skylink Derby, which as the name implies is mainly a bus service offering connections to the local airport.

All aboard

Skylink Derby, run by Trent Barton’s sister company Kinchbus, connects the cities of Derby and Leicester, running via Castle Donnington, East Midlands Airport and Loughborough. The service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and with a regular daytime frequency. At time of trip the frequency was every 20 minutes BUT this has since been improved further and NOW runs every 15 minutes.

The buses currently in use on Skylink Derby are similar to those used on Trent Barton’s Allestree service, the main visible difference that these Skylink buses are yellow. Also inside the buses are luggage racks for you to store your suitcases whilst you relax as the bus takes you to and from the airport.

Creature comforts

As with most newer Trent Barton routes the buses have USB charging points so you can give your phone and tablet some extra juice, and there are also display screens at the front of the bus showing the next stops and a countdown to the end destination. I did the full journey from Derby to Leicester which can take around 100 minutes to complete depending on traffic conditions. Whilst this seems like a long time it does at least give you plenty of time to charge your phone.

Payment Options

Paying for travel on Skylink Derby is similar to that for other Trent Barton and Kinchbus services:

  • Cash
  • Contactless payments
  • Mango app – A pre-paid option where you load credit onto your account and then pay for your journey using your smartphone.
  • Kinchkard – A smartcard that allows you to pay for travel in advance – can by 10 trips, 28 days or annual travel

Places to visit/connect

Whilst the Skylink Derby is primarily promoted as a service to/from the airport there are a few other places served on route including:

  • Derby City Centre
  • Derby Railway Station – handy for onward train connections
  • Pride Park, Derby (bus stops nearby)
  • Donnington Park – home to motor racing and the world-famous Download music festival
  • the university town of Loughborough
  • National Space Centre in Leicester (a short walk away from the bus stop)
  • Leicester City Centre

To the skylink again

Despite it being such a long route and with it a long journey time there is to like about Skylink Derby. It’s frequent, runs all day and night, the buses are clean and with the added bonus of charging points. I personally see this service as more than just an airport bus, for me it’s also a handy way of making a leisurely trip from Derby to Leicester, and back again. I say leisurely – it’s not exactly a fast bus between the two cities, so if you want to travel from Derby to Leicester and back for commuting then the quicker train alternative would be a better option here.

More info

Disclaimer – All views mentioned above are 100% my own and are not representative of Kinchbus or Trent Barton.

by Adam Thompson