Watford independent Mullany’s Coaches has taken delivery of a pair of Optare Solo SR models for use on its local services running in the Watford and Hemel Hempstead area.
The buses were required to replace time expired Solo models in the fleet and to support a growth in passenger numbers on the 318 route between Hemel Hempstead and Kings Langley. A move to a 20 minute peak time frequency and the addition of a Sunday service led to the need to increase from two, to three buses on the route.
These changes were supported by a Local Sustainable Transport Fund grant obtained from Hertfordshire County Council. Mullany’s Coaches parent company, the JJ Kavanagh Group, also provided considerable investment to support the service development and vehicle replacement programme.
Mullany’s Coaches General Manager Tim Rampling said: “We chose the Solo SR because of our good experience with earlier models and its reputation for fuel efficiency. The new SR model has also got great eye-catching kerb appeal and we’re already getting positive comments from drivers and passengers about what some have described as the ‘wow’ factor!
“From an operational point of view we are always seeking to cut our costs and along with good fuel returns from the Mercedes engine, the Optare EcoDrive system will also help us by encouraging better driver performance, particularly in ways that improve fuel efficiency. This should also bring significant passenger benefits in terms of a more comfortable and safer travelling experience.”
The Solo SRs are the 9.7 metre model with seating for 37 on Ster seats plus up to eight standees at peak times. The low entry height, particularly when kneeling, and the simple fold-out wheelchair ramp, make the bus easy to use by the many passengers with reduced mobility who use the services.
Power is from the Euro 5 compliant Mercedes-Benz OM904LA engine. This delivers 154 bhp (115 kW) of power and 610 Nm of torque and is matched to an Allison 2100 Series five-speed automatic transmission. The lock-up torque convertor in gears 3, 4 and 5, along with a brake pedal activated electro-magnetic retarder, also contribute to better fuel returns.
John Horn, Optare Sales Director, commented: “We are very pleased to be supplying these new vehicles to Mullany’s Coaches, which will be the flagships of their growing fleet. Their good fuel efficiency, supported by our class-leading EcoDrive driver performance system, makes them viable to operate throughout the day even at times when passenger loadings are light. And the undoubted passenger appeal of this stylish model should help passenger numbers grow even more.”
Picture Caption: David Cheeseman, Optare Regional Sales Manager (left) hands over the buses to Tim Rampling, General Manager, Mullany’s Coaches.
Editors’ Note: Mullany’s Coaches is a subsidiary of the JJ Kavanagh Group, established in 1919 and now the largest privately owned coach company in Ireland.
Mullany’s Coaches operates a fleet of 30 service buses on local routes and school services from its base in Watford. It also runs a substantial coach fleet of up to 20 vehicles making it the largest independent operator in South West Hertfordshire.
At the Watford base it has a state-of-the-art workshop for the maintenance of its own fleet and which provides a range of services to local PSV operators including VOSA MoT inspections, pre-MoT inspections, and routine safety checks.