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Volvo B7R 10.3m Sunsundegui Sideral available for immediate delivery

Contact James Hyde on 0044 7818 011991 Volvo Bus & Coach Centre • Belton Rd West Loughborough • Leicestershire LE11 5XL

Volvo 9700 Prestige Plus available for immediate delivery


contents SUMMER 2010 30 NEWS • Wrightbus set to deliver new ‘baby’ • ITS Smart Card system gets underway • Temsa forges ahead with new products • Innovative Bus Stop warning system plus Bus Lanes – snippets

Fleet Bus & Coach Magazine D’Alton Street, Claremorris, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Tel: +353 (0)94 9372819/ 9372826 Fax: +353 (0)94 9373571 Email: ISSN: 1649-9433 Managing Editor: Jarlath Sweeney Editor: Sean Murtagh

32 FEATURE Volvo Bus gets on its bike with Sky PRO Team

Fleet Bus & Coach - the official Irish journal of the International Bus/Coach of the Year Awards.

SUBSCRIPTION FORM Please send me an issue of Fleet Transport magazine (plus supplements) every month for one year starting with the next available issue for the cost of €65 (Ireland), €85 (Europe) €120 US. Name: Job Title Company: Email: Address: Phone: Fax: Three ways to subscribe: 1. Cheque made payable to Fleet Transport for € 2. Please charge my debit/credit card for the amount of € Laser, Mastercard, Visa, Electron & Maestro. Card No. Expiry Date: CVV No. Signature: Date: 3. Please invoice me for € Purchase Order No. (if applicable). Send completed form to: Subscriptions, Fleet Transport Magazine, D’Alton Street, Claremorris, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Fax: +353 94 937357

34 REVIEW Busworld Turkey 36 FLEETING SHOTS Featuring Vintage Setra, New Volvos & Award for Wrightbus 38 TEST First drive of new Optare Solo Electric Vehicle (EV) 40 OPINION Back Seat Driver by Sean Murtagh

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FB&C 6.10




Aimed at operators from the UK and the rest of Europe, Euro Bus Expo will be the largest coach and bus event of 2010. Representing the needs of the coach and bus community, Euro Bus Expo 2010 is the perfect forum in which to meet manufacturers and suppliers in a relaxed but highly professional business environment. With more than 250 leading manufacturers and suppliers exhibiting at Euro Bus Expo 2010, we have every sector of the coach and bus market covered. In addition to a 100-plus vehicle line up, visitors will have the opportunity to look around dedicated Technology and Training & Development Zones as well as take part in a FREE to attend seminar programme. All-in-all, a visit to Birmingham’s NEC this November will definitely be worth your while. Whatever it is you are looking for, you are sure to find it when you come to Euro Bus Expo 2010.

Register online today at: technologyenvironmentvehicles ORGANISED BY



FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2010 29


BUS LANE Europe to Asia – 100 days coach journey On 15 April, Hans-Peter Christoph from Freiburg once again set off on a 17,000 kms journey to the Middle Kingdom with a Setra Top Class S415 HDH 6x2. The mission – attend the 2010 World Expo on 23 June. After 100 days on tour, the coach is then expected to be back in Breisgau, Germany by 23 July. Two years ago Hans-Peter Christoph on behalf of tour operator Avanti Busreisen, became the fi rst coach operator to take on this epic journey.

Wrightbus’ ‘new-baby’ due for arrival this Summer


rightbus makes a welcome return to the midi-bus sector with the unveiling of a yet to be named small product from the Ballymena based company. Its styling cues are drawn upon every facet of the company’s design, engineering and manufacturing experience, which has most recently seen Wrightbus selected as the preferred supplier for Transport for London’s ‘ New Bus for London project’. Therefore it incorporates a number of class-leading features in what is a highly weight and cost sensitive market sector.

“The new vehicle is currently undertaking a programme of extensive testing at Millbrook, with a launch event planned before the Summer break. It is set to make its public debut at Euro Bus Expo in Birmingham in November.”

“We have got a proven track record of bringing new and exciting concepts to market and we have also had the benefit of starting from a clean sheet of paper on this exciting project,” said Wright Group Managing Director, Mark Nodder. He added, “Expectations of any new product bearing the Wrightbus name will inevitably be high and we are confident that our ‘new baby’ won’t disappoint when it makes its public debut later on this year.”

Integrated Ticketing at last Autocar Expo – 20/23 October – Nice Acropolis, France Organised at the initiative of ten leading coach manufacturers, Autocar Expo “is the National exhibition that brings together during four days industrialists, coach builders, service providers and sub-contractors, but also banks and insurance,” said the statement. Partnered with Busworld, over 5,000 visitors are expected to attend the event to be held at the Parc des Expositions, Nice Acropolis. More details on

Volvo to launch new City Bus At the IA A Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover, Germany on 23-30 September next, Volvo Bus will introduce a new bus based on the company’s city/intercity platform. To be called the 8900, the new bus will slot in under the award winning 9700 – Volvo’s fully integrated coach.

Fleet Bus & Coach First with the news in the PSV industry

30 FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2010


s part of Transport 21, Government body the Rail Procurement Agency (RPA) will introduce pilot tests of the long awaited Integrated Ticketing System (ITS) before a phased roll-out. Integrated Ticketing will provide a payas-you-go system on re-usable smart cars as well as supporting weekly, monthly and annual tickets for regular commuters on Dublin Bus, Luas, Irish Rail, Bus Éireann and privately operated services. In addition to staff testing of the systems, the intensive testing programme will include piloting ITS in a ‘live’ customer environment. The RPA has awarded Mapflow Limited to supply the ticketing equipment to private bus operators who wish to participate in the ITS. Private Bus/ Coach Operators are invited to take part in the scheme through information forums and other initiatives.

Gerry Mullins, CEO of the Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC), who represents the private bus/coach operators on the Integrated Ticketing Board is keen to stress that his mandate is to represent all private coach and bus operators, whether or not they are members of the CTTC. He explains to Fleet Bus & Coach how the system will work. “Any bus or coach operator is eligible to join the IT if they run scheduled services in or into the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). At present around 20 private coach and bus companies have expressed an interest in joining the project, but there may be other companies who are not yet aware of it.Having a seat on the Board of the Integrated Ticketing Scheme, his focus has been on three areas:The Operative Contract: This was signed with Hewlett-Packard Ireland in April. HP will now be responsible for the provision of a telephone customer support helpdesk; back office business processing; an ITS website, and the supply of smart

cards. Our focus here was on keeping costs low so that they would not be a burden on the various transport companies. Supply of ticket machines for private operators: Each private operator who joins the scheme this year will receive a free ticket machine for each of their vehicles that will be used for Integrated Ticketing. The contract to supply the machines was signed with Mapflow (Avego) in May. We expect those machines to be available to the private operators in April 2011. The Participation Agreement: This is a legal contract that will set the conditions of membership of the Integrated Ticketing Scheme, and will be signed by all transport operators, both private and State. It was the subject of prolonged negotiation between us, the CIE companies, and the RPA in January and February. Negotiations were then suspended until the Operative Contract was finalised and they will begin again shortly. “We are confident that the three contracts together will ensure operators can enter the Integrated Ticketing Scheme on a sound legal footing, with quality equipment and at an advantageous cost. Anyone interested in joining or finding out more, is welcome to contact me by email –”.

(L-R) Gerry Mullins (CTTC), James McGinley (John McGinley Coaches), Paddy Matthews (Matthews Coach Hire), Lorene Kirwan (Wexford Bus), David Reilly (Citylink), Eugene Finnegan (Finnegans of Bray), Noel Matt hews (Matt hews Coach Hire), JJ Kavanagh (JJ Kavanagh & Sons)


Sustainability, innovation and brand value vital to Temsa’s success


t a Press Conference held during Busworld Turkey 2010, independent bus and coach manufacturer Temsa, underlined its mission in the sector and explained how the Turkish brand is continuously progressing. During the exhibition, Temsa displayed its growing product portfolio with 5 models exhibited. New versions of the Prestij Super Deluxe midi-bus, diesel and natural gas versions of its public transport vehicle Avenue and the renewed Safi r Coach – see cover. The multifunctional Tourmaline IC was also showcased. With the renewed Safi r coach, which features a complete facelift and improved performance both intercity and touring segments now come under its sales target. “The new 13m Safi r is designed to meet the needs of touring, as well as intercity transportation. Combining high passenger comfort with a powerful engine and low fuel consumption, the new Safi r opens a new era for operators where we say, ‘Let the bus work for you’.”

business model of the Sabana Group to all our processes. We value this model as a crucial aspect of our business that will allow us to pass on the success and strengths of our 23 year old brand to future generations; meanwhile preserving economic, social and environmental resources that are necessary to create a more liveable world.” Its objectives are also aimed at the industry in general. “Our mission is to be a leading example in the industry about environment-friendly and user-friendly products and to create public awareness about these issues.

BUS LANE Volvo @ World Expo Volvo Buses delivered 1,500 buses to the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China, which opened on 1 May. The fleet includes 120 electric buses that will operate within the exhibition area. The World Expo in Shanghai, which continues until 31 October is expected to att ract some 70 million visitors and will thereby become the largest world exposition ever. Th is represents a huge challenge for the City of Shanghai, particularly with regard to public transport. In recent years, the city has invested heavily in expanding public transport in all traffic modes, particularly buses. Solely since the Autumn, Volvo Buses has delivered 1,500 buses through its joint-venture company Sunwin Bus in Shanghai, of which 565 are the Volvo brand. Volvo Buses has built buses in Shanghai for ten years and currently more than 6,000 buses from Volvo operate in the city.

Describing Temsa as a pioneering brand in the sector, Temsa Global’s CEO, Mehmet Buldurgan mentioned that their business model focusing on sustainability, innovation and brand value plays a vital role to the company’s success. He said, “As Temsa Global, we apply the ‘sustainability’

Amparo SeeMe trials show clear reduction in traffic speeds and raised driver awareness at school bus stops


new warning system developed in Sweden has demonstrated its potential to save lives of schoolchildren in a series of trials in Scotland. The Amparo SeeMe system uses an automatic radio ‘tag’, att ached to a child’s school bag to trigger solar-powered warning lights on bus stops or at crossings, to warn drivers that schoolchildren are in the vicinity. The fi rst trials of the SeeMe warning system took place in Aberdeenshire, where sadly two young lives were lost in 2008 after children were struck by cars when they stepped off school buses. The interactive bus stops, which issue a warning signal when children are boarding or leaving a school vehicle, are being tested in Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen and Moray. Local Authority surveys report that the flashing warning signs activated by a signal from the transponder in the pupils’ schoolbags have reduced driver speeds by up to 13%, from 53mph to 45mph when the signs were flashing.

in particular it has been in use for the past three years at locations in Southern Sweden; near Eslöv, Gothenberg and Uppsala. In addition to Scandinavia and Scotland, the SeeMe system is being launched worldwide, with new trials beginning as far afield as Ireland and Australia. “The SeeMe system has just been approved by the Irish Department of Transport and the Road Safety Authority and we can see an immediate demand for the SeeMe system in Ireland” says Niall O’Byrne at Synoptix Traffic Solutions Ltd. There is a further advantage in that the system is a ‘positive solution’. Its performance is based on driver recognition of a risk rather than an automatic response to a speed camera, making it much more effective.

Pupils also reported a reduction in the number of cars overtaking school buses which have stopped to pick up or drop off children.

Bus/Coach Sales down 77% Sales of new bus and coaches in the Irish market continue to plummet. Figures released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) for April 2010 revealed that with 144 new registrations to date this year showed a decline of 77% on 2009. Mercedes-Benz top the charts with 22% market share with MAN next on 9%. Private imports account for more than 2/3rds of the unit sales (69.7%). Over in the UK, sales of big buses fell by 43% during April 2010 with single and double deckers affected mostly. Following on from recent trends registration of new coaches were up 78%.

Buses & Coaches at IAA Commercial Vehicles 2010 The 63rd hosting of the IA A Commercial Vehicles Show will once again feature Buses & Coaches among its vast halls. Organised by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) the event will be held at the IAA Hanover, Germany from 23-30 September 2010. Further details on

The Amparo SeeMe system is used across Sweden, including areas north of the Arctic Circle, but Text & Photos: Jarlath Sweeney -

FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2010 31


Volvo Bus teams up with SKY PRO


olvo Bus has supplied two 9700 Triaxle coaches to SKY PRO Cycling, carrying riders to destinations throughout Europe.

the floor of the coach is reinforced to facilitate the additional facilities.

One of the SKY branded vehicles was on show in London at a spectacular launch event, giving attendees the chance to see what Volvo and SKY PRO Cycling have achieved.

Also supporting the 25 riders and 37 staff, combining 13 nationalities, is Volvo Truck who are providing the vehicles to transport the cycles themselves. This marks a pleasing double achievement for Volvo being associated with the transportation of riders and their bikes.

Volvo initially supplied two identical 42 seater coaches which were stripped back by JS Fraser, almost to the chassis and refitted specifically for the purpose of carrying and conditioning riders. The coaches have nine specially designed Estaban seats, which can be fully reclined to provide optimal relaxation for the riders.

Head of Special Projects for SKY PRO Cycling team Gwilym Evans explained how a recommendation led to them specifying Volvo, “DHL are a close ally and put in an extremely good recommendation. We contacted Volvo and they were extremely accommodating and worked fast to provide us with the vehicles.”

Some of the other special features onboard the revolutionary new vehicle include a kitchen, with microwave and fridge, two shower units and toilet facilities. The back office area can be turned into a massage suite and there is also ample storage facility.

“We believe that these vehicles raise the bar in the cycling world, they are state-of-the-art and quite revolutionary. We think that having the right sort of environment for our riders gives them the best chance of success when they take to the roads,” added Gwilym Evans.

To ensure that the vehicle is completely geared for rider comfort and well-being the coach has an inbuilt radio mast and full internet access with Wi-Fi connections. There is a Hi-Fi system as well as TV screens with full SKY TV capability to receive channels from multiple countries. Mood lighting and a high efficiency air conditioning unit ensure that the environment is perfectly suited towards rider recovery, whilst

32 FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2010



Leisure Centre

Designer Shops

The Spa


Busworld Istanbul,Turkey


usworld, the Belgian Bus and Coach Exhibition specialists staged their third Show in Istanbul, Turkey. Busworld Turkey had over 150 exhibitors, many from Europe. Organised in conjunction with HKF Fairs and the IRU (International Road Transport Union), Chief Organiser Mieke Glorieux said that in spite of the economic slow down they were very happy



with the attendance, “We organised our fi rst Show in 2006 and the support from operators and manufacturers has ensured that Busworld Turkey will continue into the future.” Speaking at the opening event, Rustu Terzi, President of TOFED which is the largest association for operators said that road transport is the backbone of Turkey’s economy. He said that a key part of this was Inter-City coach travel and concluded by saying he was equally proud of the fact that Turkish operators had some of the most modern vehicles available in their fleets. Turkey has suffered as much as other European economies during the recession but it has not stopped the Government from taking some hard decisions in relation to the environment. Engine emission limits went straight from Euro 1 to Euro 4. While the industry could resist with



what was regarded as a punitive change, the Government have pressed ahead. In a further move it is planned to make low floor buses mandatory within two years. Traditionally City services, particularly in Istanbul, are operated by high floor Midi buses. Last year saw the introduction of BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), which uses predominantly Mercedes-Benz low floor buses on a designated route. Such a high profi le use of low floor articulated buses may help to change the culture. When the World economy was at its height it was always a possibility that Turkey would be an ideal location for a budget commuter type Airline to establish itself. As all of the major Cities are roughly an hours flying time from each other, it would seem to fit the Aer Arann type business model. However, now that we are in a different economic climate that possibility seems unlikely and the long distance bus business in Turkey is secure.


Turkey Population – 75 million Average age – 29 400,000 university graduates per annum 2008 exports €177 billion Europe’s 6th lowest economy World’s 15th lowest economy It is expected that in the next five years half of all buses in Europe will have been manufactured in Turkey.



Mercedes-Benz in Turkey employs 4,000 people at two locations. First established here 43 years ago Mercedes-Benz has exported 28,000 buses since it started manufacturing. CEO of the Turkish Division Dr. Wolf-Dieter Kurz told journalists attending Busworld that their manufacturing plant a Hosedare is one of the most advanced in the World. He said that with such a dramatic drop in sales it has put their energy and resources into Research and Development. In Hosedare 200 people work solely in R & D. While last year saw a drop in sales in the Turkish market of almost 40% the CEO is confident the market will come back as strong as ever. He is of the opinion that a move towards low floor buses and alternative fuel will bring some enthusiasm to the market. In spite of reduced sales, Mercedes-Benz retained 60% of the market share in Turkey.

Turkish manufacturer Temsa is always happy to welcome visitors to Istanbul. Company CEO Mehmet Buldurgan said that for the third time he could tell people attending Busworld that Temsa is continuing to increase market share. At the exhibition Temsa launched a 27 seater, Midi-Coach.

Text & Photos: Sean Murtagh -

Primarily for the domestic market it is built on a Mitsubishi chassis with a Mitsubishi Euro 4 145 hp diesel engine. Asked about the Irish and UK market, Mr. Buldurgan said that he hoped to be able to make an announcement about a substantial delivery to a UK customer in the coming weeks.

FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2010 35


Vintage Setra on song!


n board this 1966 Setra Type S6 25 seater bus was most memorable as the journey from down-town Stuttgart to Schorndorf ended outside the birthplace of Gottlieb Daimler one of the founding fathers of the present day German motor empire.

outwards to allow more elbowroom for passengers. This particular vehicle travels all around Europe representing Daimler at corporate events.

Powered by a Henschel 4 cylinder diesel engine, top speed is achieved at 100 kp/h with an average return of 12L/100 kms. Mated to the 85 hp block is a 5 speed ZF column shift gearbox. Another interesting feature is that the aisle seats slide

Volvo back in the Kerry Coaches fold


aking pride of place at the recent CTTC ‘Th ink-in’ held in Killarney recently was one of two top-spec Volvo 9700 coaches purchased by Kerry Coaches. Commenting on the fact that its their fi rst Volvo in 6 years, Kerry Coaches Transport Manager Allan O’Connor said, “It wasn’t that we had moved away from Volvo, it was just that we looked at other options, but we are absolutely delighted with the purchase of these two vehicles.”

rear and I-Shift automated transmission. Kerry Coaches operate a 50 strong fleet of vehicles consisting of coaches and mini-buses. According to James Hyde, Volvo Coach & Sales Manager for UK and Ireland, (pictured here on the left at the handover to Kerry Coaches owner Mike Buckley) there are now 30 Volvo 9700s operating in Ireland and the product has been a huge success since its introduction in 2006. Specification demands and customer expectations are high and the 9700 fits perfectly into this category,” he said.

Each of the two 49 seaters feature Volvo’s B12B chassis with a 420 hp engine mounted to the

O’Connor’s four in four


he fourth Volvo in four years has arrived at O’Connor Coach Hire of Kilbrittain, Bandon, County Cork, this time a new B9R chassis with Sunsundegui bodywork. O’Connor’s now run 12 vehicles that are primarily used for private hire and service to student travel and tour groups. Th is 51 seater features clubclass executive half leather seats, a centrally located demountable toilet and two high-spec television monitors. “We are delighted with the vehicle and the service

Commercials (Cork) for the last seven years and the support that Volvo provides us all over the Country is second to none.” He added, “We continue to be well supported in every respect by Volvo and will, no doubt be specifying Volvo again in the future.”

we received,” explained Cormac O’Connor. “We have used the same dealership – McCarthy’s

Hot and cold running water, climate control, Wi-Fi and CCTV are all installed for both customer comfort and safety. An integrated audio visual system, that incorporates SatNav has also been specified.

Wright Group – most innovative company


allymena’s Wright Group has scooped another award being honoured as ‘the most innovative company’ at the Aer Lingus sponsored Viscount Awards, held in London.

heart,” commented Wright Group Managing Director, Mark Nodder. “Many thanks to all the team at The Wright Group for the ongoing hard work and dedication and to the organisers of the Viscount Awards for recognising their efforts,” he continued.

The Wright Group was recognised for its emphasis on innovation and attention to customer demands, which have changed the face of bus manufacturing and fi rmly positioned the company as a global leader. “These awards ref lect the hard work and dedication of the whole team and show by

36 FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2010

Pictured (l to r), Aer Lingus Corporate Affairs Director Enda Corneille, Mark Nodder - Group Managing Director, The Wright Group and Pamela Ballantine, Northern Ireland Freelance TV presenter. example how Northern Ireland can be a global business success by placing innovation at its

Text: Jarlath Sweeney -

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Optare Solo EV

Optare EV’s are now distributed in Ireland by Electric Vehicles Ireland, Tullamore.


escribed by Optare as the Europe’s fi rst practical electric bus, the Solo EV is fully electric – not a hybrid. It is purely powered by batteries, hence produces no emissions at point of use. Models equipped with two battery packs have a range of 60 miles on a single charge while offering the same passenger capacity as dieselpowered Solo. The range limitation means it would not be suitable in most suburban or rural service operations, but for applications where only low daily mileage is experienced it can offer zeroemission operation. The Solo EV need only be fitted with a single battery pack, reducing its capital cost, where daily operation does not exceed 20 miles. The twin battery pack, management electronics and AC drive motor add some 480kg to the Solo’s gross weight, but as it has excess capacity anyway it has no bearing on carrying capacity. The number of seated and standee passengers could be affected if customers sought to fit additional batteries to extend the Solo EV’s working range. There is scope to fit additional battery storage in pods located between the chassis rails or they could be installed underneath seats in the saloon. Optare says there is a range of possibilities but the specification has to balance sensibly. Customers need to think about whether they are purchasing the bus to move passengers or purely to transport batteries. The Solo EV will be available in 8.1m, 8.8m and 9.5m lengths with both standard 2.5m 38 FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2010

and Slimline 2.3m body widths. The whole EV driveline package fits within the existing ‘quick change’ power pack module familiar to Optare Solo, Versa and Tempo models. Th is means customers wanting a Versa EV rather than a Solo could opt for one. However, as Tempo is larger, heavier and would require considerably more battery power, it has been developed along different lines and is currently being trialled in London as a hybrid – using the Allison EV parallel hybrid drive system. Solo EV features a drive train developed by Enova systems, which employs a 120kW P120 AC induction motor which is powered by two banks of Valence lithium-ion phosphate batteries. Regenerative braking is included in the control system and can recover up to 60kW of power under deceleration. The batteries, encased in steel boxes, are linked in parallel to provide 307 volts and 80kW/hour of energy. No gearbox is required. The on-board pneumatic systems are fed by an electrically operated rotary vane compressor and power assisted steering via an electrically driven pump. An electric cooling fan draws air from the engine bay and exhausts it below the bus to keep the drive operating temperature within optimum limits. The water cooling system is not pressurised. The cooling system also operates during overnight charging to prevent batteries overheating. Saloon heating is provided by an Eberspacher Hydronic M12 unit located in the space normally occupied

by the diesel tank. Th is is linked into the normal Solo heating circuit but is prioritised to rapidly demist the front windscreen. Optare says it has sufficient capacity to maintain a comfortable saloon temperature of 21 degrees. The motor controller unit contains a power inverter to drive the motor, two 8kW AC inverters for the power steering and air compressor drives, plus a 24v DC-DC converter to charge the standard vehicle batteries. The sealed casing is also water cooled. A full charge takes around eight hours and is best done overnight to take advantage of cheap rate electricity. A standard three-phase supply is required. Operators could take advantage of boost charging during the day to assist in extending the range, or the battery packs could be swapped for a fully charged unit. Th is process is said to take at least half an hour – so is a workable alternative in many duty cycles. Using power derived from renewable sources would reduce the operator’s carbon footprint still further. Within the power management facility lie full

TEST on-board diagnostics of the whole EV system and the original multiplexed electronics. The on-board battery monitoring and charger is fully automated and continuously monitors battery condition, indicating the state of charge and warning of any potential system faults. After a charging session, it automatically equalises the batteries – extending their working life and charge utilisation. It will automatically shut down the charging process and turn off the cooling system once full capacity has been achieved. Optare believes the battery packs will maintain their useful service capacity for around seven years, at which time they will have degraded to the point where they will only hold 80% of their original charge. There will be a residual value to these packs as they remain extremely useful in static power supply sectors and are ideal for companies requiring un-interruptible power supplies to protect data storage, or medical facilities to ensure essential life support equipment can continue to operate during a power cut. Optare also envisages much lower maintenance costs as there is far less strain on the drive system components and litt le requirement for use of foundation brakes. The electric drive motor has only three moving parts. There are no frequent oil and fi lter changes to consider and reduced overall vibration through the whole structure implies stress and fatigue on bodywork and framework should be greatly reduced.

Driving the Solo EV Apart from the battery condition gauge in the dashboard layout, there is nothing different to what drivers would expect from a conventional Solo. Switching on the system brings the vehicle to life and the whine of the pumps and compressor let the driver know the vehicle is ready for operation as soon as the pneumatic system is charged sufficiently. There is a standard handbrake lever, D-N-R switches identical to conventional selectors, an accelerator pedal and a brake pedal. On level ground, with D engaged, the system has been designed to feed in a degree of creep once the handbrake has been released. This allows the Solo to be checked by applying the footbrake until it pulls away. It could be argued there is no need for this, but when doing an uphill start, the slight degree of creep prevents any roll-back and maintains the vehicle in a stationary position while transferring the right foot from the brake to the accelerator pedal. Acceleration from standstill is very smooth. There are no gears, so progress remains smooth throughout the speed range to its maximum rated speed of 90km/h. As with all electronic drives, the rate of acceleration, amount of regenerative retardation and fi nal speed can all be programmed into the vehicle to suit specific operational requirements. Text & Photos: Martin Cole

The launch vehicle delivered suitable acceleration and sufficient top speed for most public transport applications. Around Millbrook Proving Ground’s test course it perhaps lacked the performance of the six-cylinder B Series Cummins option, but on the steep climbs it should be remembered the high torque output of the electric motor would keep its speed consistent with litt le effect through carrying a full complement of passengers. Optare configured the system to bring in regenerative braking as the accelerator pedal is backed off . Th is not only allows recovered energy to replenish batteries, it provides a natural feel comparable to engine braking on the overrun. Further regeneration is invoked by using the brake pedal which increases the retardation to its maximum before phasing in the foundation brakes.

stopped – and is merely gett ing used to the feel on the pedal. The Solo EV seems to have filled any requirement for a practical and robust electric bus capable of providing regular service operations. As battery technology and management systems become more advanced, it will be in a position to take advantage of improved efficiency, longer range, or lighter weight. Its worst enemy is the ‘chicken and egg’ situation which dictates small run, specialist production which increases the cost of the base vehicle significantly and customers will have to do some careful sums to make sure they can amortise them against the potential savings available. Conversely, higher demand will dictate the price can be reduced.

As there is no engine, there is much less noise aboard the vehicle or drive-by noise outside it. Drivers already familiar with the Solo would need litt le acclimatisation to the EV version. The main difference comes in controlling how it is slowed down and FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2010 39


Back Seat Driver


xpect the unexpected’, may be a cliché but in the current economic crisis, who could have ever imagined that the eruption of a volcano thousands of miles away in Iceland would have added an extra dimension to the problems of the economy? Coach operators are no different than other businesses that were affected by the ash cloud. As countless numbers of inbound fl ights were cancelled so too were coach tours. As the planes returned to the skies, tourists started to arrive and the coaches were back on the road again. However, two weeks later the cloud was back on the horizon with limited disruption. Although we will not know for certain for some time, the second round of disruption may have done more harm. Now people were beginning to think about their holidays and the impact a cancelled flight may have on their summer vacation. When confidence in anything is affected it is difficult to regain it. For a time the ‘Ash Crisis’ took over as a pub conversation topic, even overtaking the economy and the property market/crisis. What struck me about the conversations was that people were considering not travelling abroad for their holidays this year, opting instead for a ‘stay-cation’ (new trendy term for staying in Ireland for your holidays). Having been on the periphery of many of these conversations I could never be sure were people more concerned about the possibility of their trip being inconvenienced or the danger of the plane ingesting volcanic ash and crashing?

Deregulation may not solve everyone’s problems but it would give many new and welcome opportunities. So, back to coach operators and the effect all of this dust has had on this season. One operator I spoke to in the early part of the crisis was very concerned about it. At that stage he had a number of tours cancelled. Although confident they would be rebooked his concern was that if four were rebooked and this emerged as a trend his volume would be down by 20%. Another operator I talked to found that every year you struggle through the early months of the year on school and bingo and watch the evenings stretching in anticipation of the extended tour 40 FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2010

business starting. Now we have uncertainty, which will no doubt have a negative effect on the number of tours we do. As in all of these crises political intervention is usually swift and popular to start with and generally fizzles out with committees and task forces being established to deal with the problem.

Obviously clear winners in all of this crisis were the ferry companies. It is likely that some of the passengers that transferred to a coach and boat trip may fi nd that the standard of ferry and coach in 2010 has significantly improved and is more comfortable. One television programme showed a line of trucks waiting to embark at Dublin Port. A far cry from a line of Slattery’s Leyland Leopards queuing to drive onto one of the old B & I ferries. Ryanair took the hardship of travelling on old coaches, rough ferries and bad roads away for emigrants and tourists twenty years ago. Is it possible twenty years later passengers would rediscover the romance of a boat and coach trip in more comfortable surroundings than a crowded airport and aeroplanes. Who knows? Finally who would have thought a dormant volcano could wake from the slumber and cause more chaos in the world than a threat of terrorism. Not only that but it may have also inadvertently changed people’s habit to holiday at home. Let us hope they take the Bus or Coach!

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey was out very quick to say that his Department would assist in any way possible - airlines, hotels and coach operators in any way he could. Everything would be provided in terms of help except money. Sound Minister, we heard you and you know what, you can do something for coach operators that will not cost you money – speed up deregulation, release competition into the marketplace. Dereg u lat ion may not solve everyone’s problem s but it would g ive many Gerry Gernon, Matthews Tours Corporate Travel collected new and welcome the keys from Liam Farrelly, M.D., Central Bus & Coach Ltd. opportunities. UNVI’s National Sales Agent.

Matthews Coach Hire adds a new UNVI Riada GT to fleet

One of the advantages of the recent crisis was how the coach industry was portrayed in a positive light. Operators contacted the Joe Duffy Show to tell listeners who may have had friends or relatives stranded abroad where they had empty vehicles available to pick up passengers and take them back to Ireland.

Specification :UNVI GT Mercedes-Benz Vario O816, 29s + C, Grand Rally seats, Aisle carpets, Curtains , Radio PA, CD, DVD and monitor, Euroliner wheel trims, AC, Double glazing, chrome grille and mirrors, electrically heated and adjustable mirrors, driver and courier microphones, reversing camera, fridge, 4 x tables, Coffee machine.

Central Bus & Coach Ltd Keenagh, Co.Longford, Ireland. Tel: +353 (0)43 3322023 Fax: +353 (0)43 3322233 W: Text: Sean Murtagh –

Fleet Bus and Coach Summer 2010  

Fleet Bus and Coach Magazine

Fleet Bus and Coach Summer 2010  

Fleet Bus and Coach Magazine