An Optare Solo designed specifically for operation in Hong Kong, has commenced service on Hong Kong Island green minibus (GMB) route No. 54M (Kennedy Town Station - Queen Mary Hospital). The Hong Kong Transport Department will evaluate the bus on route no.54, and plans to trial the Solo on another two hospital routes operating via Prince of Wales Hospital and St Teresa's Hospital respectively.
The Solo’s unique combination of, shorter length, narrow width, low floor access and high seat capacity are considered ideal for the routes it will serve in Hong Kong. The vehicle’s low floor makes it accessible to all passengers including wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility. The Solo can be boarded quicker and easier than high floor minibus equivalents.
A spokesman for the Hong Kong Transport Department, said, "We are glad to announce that the first low-floor wheelchair accessible Public Light Bus (PLB) will be put into service in order to further promote the concept of transport for all. The trial scheme is one of the measures put forward in the Public Transport Strategy Study published in June 2017, with an aim to facilitating wheelchair users to use PLB services."
Robert Drewery, Commercial Director, Optare, said, “The low floor Solo is a first for Hong Kong and it is hoped that the vehicle will improve travel for all passengers and people with disabilities in particular. The Solo’s higher seat capacity should help address a shortage of drivers in Hong Kong also. Following a successful trial, there is potential for the Solo to enter the bus market in Hong Kong as a programme of upgrading the existing high floor minibus fleet begins.”