First Bus places orders for 385 buses
All but 30 to be Euro6
First Bus has placed what it believes is the largest UK order yet made for Euro6 engined buses. A total of 385 new buses are to be delivered to the 6,300 strong fleet, of which 355 will be Euro6 and 30 will be Euro5. In total the orders are worth £77.7m, around £3m of which is being contributed by the Scottish Government’s Green Bus Fund, Bristol City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and the DfT in respect of various green initiatives.
Giles Fearnley, MD of First Bus, said: ‘This is great news for First Bus customers across the UK. In five years we’ve invested around £385m in new vehicles. Our £77.7m investment this year underlines our continuing determination to provide ever better bus services for our customers and reflects the increasing passenger numbers that we are seeing across First Bus.’ The £385m has been spent on 2,200 new buses, maintaining the company’s 15 year vehicle life policy.
Wrightbus have won the greatest share of the order with 183 Streetlites and 65 double deck StreetDecks, as well as the double deck bodies on 20 Volvo B5LH hybrids, a total of 268 units. ADL has been awarded contracts for 117 buses, including 63 of the new Enviro200 MMCs, 47 diesel powered Enviro400 MMC double decks, five Enviro400 MMCs with GKN flywheel technology (scheduled to operate in Stirling) and two Enviro400 MMC Virtual Electrics, which will enter service in Bristol from December as part of FirstGroup’s support of Bristol Green Capital.
Key to the placing of the orders was the fuel economy performance of vehicles in tests conducted by Millbrook. First claims that when the Microhybrid technology is combined with the lightweight design and optimised driveline of the Streetlite then we are seeing around 30% improvements in fuel efficiency when compared to an average equivalent Euro3 diesel bus.
All of the buses will be equipped with free Wi-Fi and some will also have USB charging points. It is likely that the charging point equipped vehicles will be trialled in South Yorkshire and on some student focused services in Scotland and Wales.
113 of the new buses, including many of the ADL built products, are to be used in Scotland, with First Glasgow getting 75, First Scotland East 31 and First Aberdeen seven.
Wrights Group Chairman and CEO, Mark Nodder, said: ‘We are delighted to continue our successful partnership with FirstGroup, and look forward to delivering more vehicles which are best in class for fuel efficiency and low emissions. This is the largest order taken by Wrightbus for Euro 6 buses, a strong endorsement of the new technology and innovative design.’
Colin Robertson, Chief Executive of Alexander Dennis Limited, said: ‘We are delighted to have won this very significant order and to be continuing our long-established and thriving relationship with FirstGroup. This latest order is a huge endorsement of our new-generation, market-leading midi and double deck buses and a further demonstration of FirstGroup’s commitment to the green technologies of tomorrow. In addition, it should not be forgotten that orders like this support 2,000 ADL jobs in the UK and thousands more in our extensive supplier network.’
Phil Owen, Commercial Sales Director at Volvo Bus said: ‘We have worked closely with First Bus for many years and welcome their uptake of Euro 6 Hybrid vehicles. Euro 6 can make a real difference on air quality in Britain’s towns and cities, while our hybrid technology delivers significant greenhouse gas savings. We are proud to continue our relationship with First.’
There are no orders for Optare although a spokesman commented, ‘We remain very supportive of Optare and the products they produce. However, the mix of vehicles we require including our preference for the Streetlite Microhybrid model has seen ADL and Wrights win the bulk of our order. We continue to have a close working relationship with Optare and anticipate orders in future years.’
Giles Fearnley, Managing Director, First Bus commented, ‘Everyone at First Bus is very much looking forward to welcoming the new buses into our local fleets. Drivers especially welcome the opportunity of getting behind the wheel of a new vehicle, while our customers too recognise the benefits of new buses. Providing free on board Wi-Fi in particular is well received by our passengers. We expect our investment to attract new customers to bus travel and encourage infrequent users to travel more often.’
He continued: ‘Our investment, which will have a positive impact on air quality in the towns and cities we serve and will help encourage modal shift, is great news therefore for our local authority partners and their plans to tackle congestion and air quality. Forging deep partnerships with local authorities and other stakeholders will help unlock the full potential of bus services, as we are proving in cities like Sheffield and Bristol. Our investment very much reflects our continuing commitment to support and work with our partners.’