Peter and Linda McKenzie of Donric Group, a family owned large bus and coach operator in Australia, visited the Optare production facility on a recent trip over to the UK. The Donric Group has grown from a fleet of 8 vehicles in 1980 to in excess of 360 buses and coaches today. The group’s bus and coach fleets cater for a diversified range of people movement activities from school buses, route services to a wide range of charter & extended touring.
Donric Group have recently taken delivery of two Optare Solo SRs to be operated by Gold Bus, one of the six companies within the group, aptly named after the area in which they operate in Ballarat, Victoria, known for its Gold Mining.
The Solos will operate as Special Education School Buses in partnership with the Department for Education in Victoria, serving Ballarat Specialist School. Located not far from the banks of Lake Wendouree, Ballarat Specialist School provides educational programs for 3-30 year old students with mild, moderate and profound intellectual disabilities associated with physical, social, emotional, behavioural, multiple and sensory impairments.
Peter McKenzie, Chief Executive, Donric Group, said, “The application of the low floor, mid size Solos as a Special Education School Bus is a new concept in Australia, with the growing demand for special education services and access for multiple wheelchairs. The Solo provides a higher capacity whilst still able to navigate through the urban streets.” The Solo’s front axle is forward of the entrance doors meaning fast passenger access can be easily achieved, which is ideal for this application. The Solos meet ECE-R66 roll over requirements and their fuel efficiency and low floor access are also advantages over the more traditional high floor mini bus solution.
“Optare’s selection of well known global brands in the Solo’s driveline adds to the maintainability of the vehicles and their performance in high temperatures was also another deciding factor in choosing the Solo. The vehicles have been very well received by both customers and drivers.”
David Siviero, Global Sales, Marketing and Service Director, Optare, said, “We are delighted at how well these vehicles have been received and continue to work with our agents Patico in Australia to produce more vehicles for the Australian market.”