FirstGroup has ordered 305 new vehicles worth £70m. The order includes ten Plaxton bodied Volvo B11Rs, 71 ADL Enviro200 MMCs, 80 ADL Enviro400 MMCs, eight ADL Enviro400 MMC gyros, 45 ADL Enviro400s, 71 Wrightbus StreetDecks and 20 Wrightbus StreetLite Maxs. All the new buses will feature onboard Wi-Fi, meaning that by the end of the financial year around 60% of the 6,300 FirstBus fleet will have this equipment. Most passengers will also benefit from leather seats, while some of the new vehicles will be fitted with next stop audio visual display screens and around 30% with USB charging points. The order brings the company’s investment over the last six years to £455m in 2,500 new vehicles. 87% of the new vehicles will be DfT approved ‘low carbon certified’, which the operator estimates will save 4 million kg of CO2 per year.
Speaking exclusively to B&CB, First Bus MD, Giles Fearnley, said the investment is largely on trend with the last three year’s outlay in new vehicles. There are fewer vehicles than previous orders, but a greater quantity of double deckers than previously. Commenting on the eight Enviro400 MMC gyro powered deckers, he said, ‘We like the principle of this technology,’ emphasising that their use will be to better understand gyro power, working with partners in the roll out of this alternative drive train option. With the gyro power vehicles being double deckers, it means they will be used on high patronage services. The new orders will all be to First’s standard specification, apart from ones on specialist services, such as the Glasgow airport fleet. Routes with ‘passenger growth and potential’ will see the new buses allocated to them.
Giles said, ‘This is great news for First Bus customers. We are determined to make the bus a more compelling proposition, attract more customers and grow our business. Ensuring that our customers travel in modern, comfortable, fit for purpose vehicles which provide added value such as free Wi-Fi and USB charging is pivotal to our customer engagement strategy and our future success. In 2015, we announced the largest order on record in the UK for vehicles with Euro6 engines, complementing efforts from our partners in local councils to improve air quality in our towns and cities. Our 2016 order again reflects our commitment to working with our partners to reduce emissions and improve the environment.’
‘FirstBus is proud to continue supporting British bus manufacturers. Our manufacturing partners continue to lead the world in quality, innovation, fuel efficiency and value for money. I’m pleased that we’ve again invested heavily in our fleet and our tradition of supporting the British manufacturing industry remains strong.’
FirstBus has also highlighted its commitment to partnerships, with 14 new buses entering service in Doncaster this month, marking the start of the ‘Doncaster Bus Partnership’ in May. The Sheffield Bus Partnership will benefit from a further ten new vehicles. The strong developing partnership in Cornwall will see the operator invest £7.1m in 30 new vehicles. Due to high profile partnerships in the West of England, 68 new vehicles worth £18.1m are earmarked for these operations.
ADL’s Chief Executive, Colin Robertson, said, ‘We have worked closely with FirstGroup over many years to raise the bar for the industry. Our shared vision is to provide passengers and drivers with world-class products that introduce advanced technology, improve comfort, safety and vehicle performance, and exceed environmental requirements. All of the vehicles in this order meet these exacting demands and endorse our policy of continuous, multi-million pound investment in new technology and the vehicles of tomorrow. The 133 double decks and 71 midi buses we will deliver to First Bus are our latest generation vehicles, designed, engineered and built in the UK. Establishing ADL as FirstGroup’s principal bus supplier is a great accolade and a tribute to our product quality and reliability. This order will play a significant part in underpinning jobs at our manufacturing facilities in Central Scotland, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Surrey, where we employ 2,000 team members. It also spells good news for the 4,000 jobs in our extensive supply network.’
MD – Sales and Customcare for Wrightbus, Ian Downie, said, ‘We are delighted to have received this significant order from one of our longest standing customers. When delivered, there will in total be more than 670 StreetLites and 136 StreetDecks, which were launched in 2015, in operation with FirstBus. Wrightbus is proud of its long term relationship with FirstBus and looks forward to delivering this latest fleet of new buses into service.’