Following extensive trials of Optare’s 11.7 metre low-weight Versa, and good experience over many years with their Solo model, Go North East has ordered more new vehicles from the Yorkshire bus builder.
Optare is to supply Versa and Solo SR vehicles for use on services in Tyne & Wear and County Durham in an investment of £3.5million by the North East’s largest bus operator. Versa deliveries will commence in October with the Solos to follow in November.
A key factor in Go North East’s decision to order the 11.7 metre Versa was its successful operation during an extended trial of the model over a ten week period earlier this year. The test vehicle was put through its paces on some of the most demanding and intensive city centre services, with high passenger loadings and numerous hills. What particularly impressed them was the exceptional fuel efficiency achieved in these extremely testing conditions.
As with earlier Versas supplied to this customer, the new 11.7 models are powered by the Cummins ISBe engine to the Euro 5 EEV standard, which will deliver cleaner emissions in the city centre operating environment. This six-cylinder engine delivers 150 kW (201 bhp) at 2500 rpm and 700 Nm of torque, giving it a good level of performance for the tough route conditions without compromising on fuel efficiency.
Go North East has set a high specification for their new Versas with driver comfort receiving particular attention. A Chapman MK250 driver’s seat has been specified, which incorporates a head rest and lumbar support and the driver’s compartment is to have Denso air conditioning and a full protection screen.
The 12 Solo SR models are the 9.0 metre version powered by the Mercedes-Benz OM904LA engine. This well proven four-cylinder engine delivers 154 bhp (115 kW) of power and 610 Nm of torque and, like the Versas, is matched to an Allison 2100 Series five-speed automatic transmission.
Passengers on both the Versas and the Solo SRs will be seated on Esteban Civic V2 seats. The Versas are to be fitted with 37 fixed seats plus six tip-ups, three each in the wheelchair and buggy spaces located on each side of the saloon immediately to the rear of the front wheelboxes. Inclusive of standees, the Versas are capable of achieving a total carrying capacity of up to 62. The Solos will carry up to 49 passengers and have 23 fixed seats with three tip-ups in each of the wheelchair and buggy bays. In the case of both models, safe and easy access for passengers in wheelchairs and mothers with buggies will be provided by an easy to use fold-out manual ramp.
Chris Wise, Commercial Director at Optare, says that he is delighted that Go North East has again chosen both the Versa and Solo SR models of which approaching 90 have been delivered to the Go North East fleet over recent years.
“It’s particularly rewarding to win this business off the back of very extensive testing of the 11.7 metre Versa model in very demanding operating conditions and against a background of good experience not only from these trials but also from over two years of operating Versa and even longer with Solo.
“The exceptional fuel efficiency that the 11.7 metre Versa delivered during the trials is a direct result of the low weight of the bus, which unladen is just 7,820 kilos and the Solo has long enjoyed a well deserved reputation for fuel economy.
“Combining the low weight with good driveline matching and the use of our unique Optare Eco Drive dashboard makes both models the most economical buses of their size on the market.”