Optare has begun delivering against an order for 18 of its Versa model to First Cymru for operation in South Wales.
Two versions of the lightweight midibus model are being supplied: nine are the 11.1 metre model and nine are the new low-weight 11.7 metre model, with seating capacities of 36 and 40 respectively.
A stunning new livery has been applied to the 11.7 metre Versas, which are already entering service on the X2 route providing a fast limited stop link between Porthcawl and Cardiff taking in Newton, Bridgend and Cowbridge. The 11.1 metre versions are in standard First colours and will go in to operation on the 63/63B Bridgend to Porthcawl service.
Commenting on the new Versas, Justin Davies, Managing Director of First Cymru, said: “We are thrilled to take delivery of these new vehicles. They are modern, spacious, comfortable, good to drive and offer our passengers an enhanced journey experience.
“These new buses are a great addition to our local business and will enable us to serve local people, connecting local communities, long into the future. We hope that people will get on board to try them!”
First have specified a high standard of passenger comfort on their new Versas with features such as leather-trimmed Esteban Civic V2 seats and free WiFi connectivity. There are two spacious wheelchair/buggy bays, one on each side of the bus, and which can be accessed immediately on entry by means of a robust ‘book leaf’ type fold-out ramp. Each of the wheelchair bays has three tip-up seats and Hanover LED destination equipment is fitted.
Power is provided by the six-cylinder Cummins ISBe engine, which is Euro 5 emissions compliant. This delivers a generous 201 bhp (150 kW) enabling the buses to cope easily with the hilly terrain along the routes.
Drivers are assisted in ensuring passenger safety and comfort along with better fuel efficiency by the fitment as standard of Optare’s Eco-Drive dashboard. This constantly monitors driving behaviour and presents the driver with helpful information on their performance in a simple-to-read visual format. Fuel economy is further enhanced by the integral lock-up torque converter in the Allison five-speed automatic transmission and the use of an electro-magnetic retarder activated automatically through the brake pedal.
John Horn, Optare Sales Director commented: “We’re proud to be a part of First’s strategy to introduce stylish, comfortable and environmentally friendly vehicles into its fleet in South Wales.
“Our fully integral models are designed from the outset to be incredibly strong and durable, but with significantly reduced overall weight and class leading cost per seat. The 11.7m derivatives of our Versa range have an unladen weight of less than 7,800kg and as a result, we’re sure that First will benefit from significantly enhanced fuel efficiency while their passengers enjoy exceptionally comfortable journeys.
“The striking exterior paint scheme perfectly complements Versa’s stylish lines and in combination with the spacious interior and leather seating these buses are sure to help to entice more car drivers to travel by bus.”