Manchester orders 66 low-emission hybrid buses

Optare has been chosen to supply 66 hybrid buses to Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) in an order worth up to £13 million.

This is the largest single order for hybrid buses so far to be placed with help from the Government’s Green Bus Fund, which helps bus operators in England with the cost of buying low-emission vehicles. GMITA has secured over £3 million from the fund and £1.3m from other funders, including Wigan Council, to assist in the purchase of the buses for taxpayer-supported services.

Commercial operators in the Manchester area have also secured grants from the Fund.

The GMITA fleet will be made up of several different models - the Solo, Solo SR, Versa and Tempo - all featuring a diesel-electric hybrid system using ultra-capacitors and incorporating Optare’s Eco Drive system, which encourages optimal driver behaviour. The buses will also feature advanced telematics technology, which combines a passenger counting device, real time information, CCTV and vehicle diagnostics into a single integrated system.

GMITA is the political authority responsible for overseeing the provision of public transport in Greater Manchester. Its policies are implemented by Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive.

GMPTE’s interim bus and rail director, Michael Renshaw, said: “Public transport has a key role to play in helping the city region to cut carbon emissions. The introduction of a new fleet of low carbon, more fuel-efficient buses will be an important step towards achieving our environmental aims.”

Optare CEO Jim Sumner, who pioneered the Eco Drive concept, said: “We firmly believe that our Eco Drive hybrids will set the benchmark for emission and fuel saving advantages.

“The global trend toward low carbon and zero emission bus technology is now unstoppable. We think our combination of lightweight construction, modular design and range of green bus technologies is a winner.”

The GMITA order comprises 20 Metroshuttle vehicles, 30 buses for the general fleet and 16 school buses.

There will be a staggered delivery programme. The first 20 buses, for the Manchester Metroshuttle service, will enter into passenger service in autumn 2010, with the remaining vehicles phased in from January 2011.

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