Six more Optare Versa low-floor midibuses have joined the fleet of Network Warrington, five for use on the new Connect17 orbital service linking residential areas of the town with places of work and education and the sixth on other routes. The vehicles were handed over at a ceremony at Warrington Town Hall on Wednesday 1st May.
The new service has resulted from a successful bid made last year by Warrington Borough Council to the Department of Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund.
This is the third time in just two years that Optare has supplied buses to Network Warrington. In April 2011 six Solos were delivered to replace time-expired Metroriders and last November six Versa diesel-electric hybrids were supplied with the help of the government’s Green Bus Fund.
Speaking at a handover event at Warrington Town Hall, Chair of Network Warrington, Maureen Banner, said: “This new service is designed to meet stakeholders’ needs. We want to encourage people to use our buses, which they will find modern, clean, safe and dependable.”
Optare Sales Director, John Horn, added: “We are very pleased that our buses are proving themselves on the streets of Warrington by providing a good travelling experience to local people. Receiving repeat orders from such a highly-regarded operator is always the best endorsement of the quality, reliability, fuel efficiency and passenger acceptance of our products and of the back-up support we provide.”
With seating for 37 plus up to 23 standees, the 11.1 metre Versas have ample capacity to meet anticipated peak demands on the new service. Passengers will also be assisted by an audio-visual system making next stop announcements along with Mobitec LED destination equipment.
Power for the Versas is from the Euro 5 compliant Mercedes-Benz OM904LA engine delivering 154 bhp (115 kW) and 610 Nm of torque. This is backed by a five-speed Allison automatic transmission with lock-up torque convertor and an electro-magnetic retarder is also fitted, both contributing further to the acknowledged fuel efficiency of the Mercedes engine.
2nd picture caption: Left to right: John Horn, Optare Sales Director; Maureen Banner, Chair of Network Warrington; Cllr Linda Dirir , Executive Board Member for Highways, Transportation and Climate Change at Warrington Borough Council; Ann Marie Slavin, Acting MD, Network Warrington; Damian Graham, Engineering Director, Network Warrington.