Newbury & District is the first independent operator to take delivery of the 11.7 metre version of Optare’s Versa integral model, which was launched last year.
The company is using the vehicle on the 14 mile route 4 out of Newbury to Lambourn. This Monday to Saturday service is contracted through West Berkshire District Council and the high passenger capacity of the new Versa will allow for further growth in demand.
An entrance step that reduces to just 245 mm when kneeling makes the Versa very accessible for people with reduced mobility or mothers with pushchairs. A simple, manual fold-out ramp also provides easy access to the wheelchair/buggy bay, which is conveniently located to the rear of the right hand front wheelarch.
Power in the Versa is from the 6.7 litre six-cylinder Cummins ISBe Euro 5 engine rated at 201 bhp (150 kW) and which delivers 750 Nm of torque. This is matched to an Allison 2100 Series five-speed fully-automatic transmission with lock-up torque converter for increased fuel economy.
With a seating capacity of 44, plus standees, the model can carry as many passengers as a 12 metre single-decker but has an unladen weight of less than eight tonnes. Extensive in service trials have demonstrated that this low weight further enhances the already renowned fuel efficiency of the Versa. Along with its lower capital cost, the vehicle is particularly appealing to independent operators like Newbury & District who are looking for the lowest possible cost per seat in this class of vehicle.
Optare sales director John Horn says: “The high passenger capacity of our 11.7 metre Versa and its class-leading fuel economy make it a very attractive vehicle for services where demand is particularly high at peak times but may be lower in the middle of the day. It means that running a bus of this size remains viable throughout the day, even when passenger numbers are lower.
“Weight saving measures introduced last year during our development of an extended Versa platform for hybrid school buses were carried across to this model. The resulting low weight of less than eight tonnes contributes significantly to the exceptional fuel efficiency without compromising on the robustness and durability of Versa’s integral design.”