Thames Travel, a subsidiary of the Go Ahead Oxford, has taken delivery of six of Optare's Solo SR midibus model which are being used on five new routes in the Bicester area.
An important factor in choosing the Solo SR was the low emission levels of the Mercedes-Benz OM904LA engine which is Euro 5 compliant and meets the requirements of a low emission zone that's scheduled to come into effect in the City of Oxford later this year.
Thames Travel General Manager John Hammond said, "We already have Optare Solos in our fleet and the modern looking image was just what we wanted for a series of new services we have just launched in the Bicester area.
"They are a proven design and their low emission characteristics are important, as some of the routes they will be used on serve Oxford where a low emission zone comes into force at the end of the year.
Availability was an issue too and Optare were able to meet a tight deadline to supply the vehicles in time for the launch of the new routes."
Along with low emissions, the Mercedes-Benz engine is renowned for its good fuel efficiency. This is further enhanced by being matched to an Allison 2100 Series five-speed automatic transmission, which incorporates a lock-up torque converter in gears 3, 4 and 5 along, with a Klam electro-magnetic retarder automatically activated when braking, both of which contribute to reduced fuel consumption.
The 9.0 metre Solos have seating for 29, consisting of 23 fixed Esteban Civic V2 seats and six tip-ups, three in the wheelchair bay to the rear of the driver's partition and three in the buggy space directly opposite. Hanover LED destination equipment is fitted to the front, nearside and rear.
Optare Sales Director, John Horn, said: "I'm very pleased that Optare was awarded this order by Go Ahead Oxford for their Thames Travel operation on the basis of good past experience with our products and the low emission levels of our Solo SR.
"Our ability to meet a demanding delivery schedule was also an important factor and we were able to do this as a result of the high levels of efficiency that we are now achieving at our Sherburn plant."