Newbury & District is the first operator to take delivery of the diesel-engined version of Optare’s specially designed 12.1 metre Versa school bus. Six have gone into service and will be used primarily on school contracts although the company may also operate them on its local services in the Newbury area.
In designing the 12.1 metre Versa for school work Optare made full use of the modular construction of the model to achieve the required length, and because the first examples were built as hybrid drive with a heavier mechanical pack and roof mounted super capacitors, a number of weight saving measures were also introduced, including using lighter-weight materials and fitting Rescroft CT Lite seats.
This enables up to 49 seated passengers to be carried and their safety is enhanced by each seat having a full 3-point lap and diagonal “all age” seat belt and by the fact that the model fully meets the R66 rollover regulations.
Simon Weaver, Managing Director, says: “This is a very modern and stylish looking bus that has been purpose designed to carry schoolchildren in comfort and safety, and which ensures that we fully meet our contractual obligations. The fact that we can also use these buses on our regular service work gives us added flexibility.”
The company has opted for the six-cylinder Cummins ISBe engine to power the Versas. At 201 bhp (150 kW) it has ample power to cope with local hilly conditions when fully laden and its maximum torque output of 750Nm makes move-offs easy in all load or road surface conditions.
An electro-magnetic retarder is fitted to provide smoother deceleration and braking together with reduced power consumption leading to improved fuel economy. The Allison 2100 Series five-speed automatic transmission has a lock-up torque convertor which also contributes to good fuel efficiency.
Optare’s sales director, John Horn, says: “Once again Newbury & District are taking our Versa model, this time our uniquely designed 12.1 metre school bus version. The vehicles are finished in a striking black livery with deeply tinted side glazing giving them a really classy appearance and they’ll not only provide safe and comfortable transport to and from school for young people in Berkshire, but will also deliver good performance and fuel economy for the operator.”