The last of ten of Optare’s Solo SR hybrid midibus has been handed over to Manchester Community Transport (MCT) following its display at the recent Coach & Bus Live show in Birmingham. All have now entered service under contracts awarded to MCT by TfGM (Transport for Greater Manchester).
Following delivery of the last of the Solos, MCT Managing Director, Rob Marshall, said: “MCT is delighted to be putting these new hybrid Optare Solos into service in several areas within Greater Manchester. The fact that they are also carrying our new brand and livery adds to their kerb appeal and will help to raise the image of our business as a high quality bus operator right across the wider area in which we are now operating.
“Buying these Optare buses represents a major investment for MCT and we acknowledge the financial support received through the Government’s Green Bus Fund secured by TfGM,” he adds.
“It’s also the first time that we have introduced hybrid technology into our fleet and the reaction of our staff to this new technology has been very positive. Our drivers in particular have responded very well and have recognised that these buses require a different driving technique to which they are proving quick to adapt.”
Amongst the equipment on the 9.2 metre, 31 seater buses is a full telematics package from Actia. This includes an on-board diagnostics capability that can relay a wide range of information back to base using a GPRS link providing accurate information on how the bus is being driven, particularly in relation to fuel economy and passenger safety and comfort.
Operations Director Gary Young says that this is a major advance in fleet management. “The tracking element of the Actia system enables us to know exactly where these Solos are, which aids route adherence and timekeeping and helps us meet our contractual obligations to TfGM. We can also monitor our fuel consumption, driver behaviour and CCTV events much more accurately, which will help identify opportunities to improve the customer experience and make cost savings whilst reducing environmental impacts.
“And we benefit from the ability to get information in real-time direct into our office on any faults that may occur when the buses are out on the road. This will help ensure that we correctly diagnose faults, ensuring that repair time is minimised and that buses are back in service as quickly as possible.
“Throughout the process of specifying and building the buses I have been impressed by the improvements in Optare’s production performance,” adds Mr. Young. “They have responded quickly to any issues that have arisen during the build process and rectified them efficiently and effectively. As a result these new buses are of a high quality of fit and finish and are already impressing our drivers and our passengers.”
John Horn, Optare sales director, commented: “Optare is very pleased at the reception these new buses have received at MCT. With all ten now in service there will be in excess of 100 Optare hybrid buses operating in the Greater Manchester area, each delivering a great passenger experience, cleaner air for local people, and reduced costs for their operators.”