Cllr James Lewis, Chair of the new West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee has visited Optare's bus manufacturing plant in east Leeds, where seven new AccessBus vehicles are to be built.
At its last meeting at the end of March, the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority's Executive Board agreed expenditure to buy seven Solo SE buses from Optare for Metro's dial-a-ride AccessBus service.
AccessBus provides door-to-door transport for people across West Yorkshire who have difficulty accessing conventional public transport. Destinations include local shops and facilities and all vehicles are low-entry, easy access minibuses fitted with the most up-to-date safety equipment.
People with limited mobility use AccessBus services to make 550,000 journeys each year.
The current AccessBus fleet is made up of 26 Optare Solo buses and eight Mercedes Mellor Sprinter van conversions. Purchased in 2006, the Mellor Sprinters needed to be replaced due to increasing maintenance costs. When Metro invited tenders for the replacement vehicles, the best tender was received from Optare for the provision of seven more Solo vehicles.
Visiting the factory, Cllr Lewis said, "I am glad that the order for these new vehicles, which will provide a vital lifeline for people with limited mobility across West Yorkshire, will also help to support local jobs and mean money is spent in the local economy.
"Over the past 14 years, Metro has ordered over 60 vehicles from Optare and they also supply vehicles to many of West Yorkshire's bus operators, small and large, as well as to operators across the UK. I hope that in the future, the company will be among the bidders to supply new, state-of-the-art trolleybuses for the NGT network in Leeds, which is due to start running in 2020."
Enrico Vassallo, CEO of Optare PLC, said: "We are delighted to be supplying more buses to WYITA and we are particularly proud to supply buses that are running on routes local to where they are manufactured in Sherburn in Elmet near Leeds."
" Optare are a forward thinking and environmentally conscious manufacturer and we have won several awards for our electric vehicles which we are now starting to see in service in Harrogate and York. We are also one of the first suppliers of Euro 6 emissions compliant diesel vehicles to London and Belfast"
Leader of Leeds City Council and WYCA member Cllr Keith Wakefield said, “I am pleased that by ordering these vehicles from local firm Optare, the Combined Authority is supporting the local and regional economy and jobs in West Yorkshire.”
Manufacture of the new AccessBus Solo SE vehicles will begin in August with the new vehicles beginning to go into service in the autumn.
Details of how to register for the Metro AccessBus service online, by phone or by post can be found on the Metro website at www.wymetro.com or by calling 0113 348 1903, Mondays to Fridays (excluding Bank Holidays) between 7.30am and 4pm.
A flat fare of £3 per journey applies but passengers holding English National Concessionary Travel Scheme passes travel free of charge.
For further information please contact:
Rebecca Green, Marketing Co-ordinator
T: +44 (0) 7810 158 415