“Amazing technology” is how Chris Reay, managing director of Reays Coaches of Wigton, describes his new Optare Solo SR hybrids, which are believed to be the first hybrids to enter service in Cumbria.
The 9.2 metre ultra-low emission Solo SRs are being used on the six-day-a-week hourly number 75 service between Dalston and Cotehill via Carlisle and which has been rebranded as the ‘Eco Hopper’.
" We are always looking for innovative ideas and this is a great way to help the environment, while also improving the service we provide for our passengers,” says Mr Reay. “Even when you are braking, the hybrid driveline takes the energy out of the motion and re-charges the battery. It is amazing technology.
“We were fortunate enough to be allocated money from the Green Bus Fund,” he adds, “but we have gone that extra mile and had leather seats installed throughout to give them a more luxury feel.
Seating capacity is 31 on leather trimmed Esteban Civic V2 seats and wood effect flooring adds to the sumptuous feel inside the saloon. A further 21 standees takes the total passenger capacity to 52, which is more than sufficient to meet peak time demands. The low entry height, front kneeling capability and simple fold-out wheelchair ramp also make the Solos easy to use by passengers of all levels of mobility.
A Siemens ELFA series hybrid drive system powers the buses. This well proven system
uses AC induction motors for their ruggedness and simple controls. As the use of an electric drive does not require a multi-speed gearbox there are no step changes during acceleration and deceleration resulting in a smoother and quieter ride. Two induction motors are coupled together through a summation gearbox to drive the rear axle.
A Euro 5 compliant Mercedes-Benz OM904LA engine powers a generator to produce electricity for storage in the roof-mounted Ultracapacitors. All auxiliary systems – brakes, doors, suspension, 24v system and hydraulics - are powered by ancillaries integrated into the diesel engine.
Optare Sales Director, John Horn, said: “We are very pleased to have supplied these super quiet and highly fuel efficient hybrid Solo SRs to Reays, who are a new bus customer for us.
“Their entry into service has created quite a buzz with some very positive comments from drivers and passengers alike. The high quality internal specification also shows how flexible Optare can be in meeting the needs of customers like Reays who want buses that will be more appealing to passengers and which will help increase bus usage.”