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Optare Solo SRs proving fuel frugal at Perryman's

Published to the CV Show website on

A quartet of Optare Solo SR midibuses being used on cross-border services by Perryman's are delivering 14 mpg, according to the Berwick based operator.

Manager Roddy Perryman says that the good fuel figures are being helped by the Optare Eco Drive dashboard, which constantly delivers information to the drivers to show how their driving is, positively or negatively, impacting on fuel economy.

"This is a feature that's going down really well with our drivers and there's a friendly rivalry developing between them to see who can get the best score in terms of safer and more fuel efficient driving," says Mr Perryman. "This is all for the good because it means that we are not only saving on fuel costs but also reducing wear and tear on the buses and improving the safety and comfort of our passengers."

The dashboard is part of a full telematics package by Actia, which includes GPS tracking to assist with route adherence and timekeeping. It has a live diagnostics capability so that if a vehicle suffers a problem when in service, the fault can be remotely diagnosed at Perryman's Berwick base, and a fitter despatched with the correct part straight to the precise location of the vehicle.

Perryman's placed a strong emphasis on passenger comfort when specifying the Solo SRs, which are being used primarily on its 253 service connecting Berwick with Edinburgh following the coast, and its cross country 67 route to Galashiels.

During the holiday season the buses will also be used on the 477 service that crosses the tidal causeway to Holy Island, making it perhaps the only bus route in the UK to be dependent on the tides.

Safety features of the Solo SRs include all 29 forward-facing Rescroft CT Lite seats having a full lap and diagonal seat belt. A seven camera Cyberlyne CCTV system is installed and extra LED side marker lights provide better visibility on unlit rural roads at night.

The 9.6 metre Solos are powered by the Mercedes-Benz OM904LA engine rated at 115 kW and which is matched to the five-speed Allison 2100 fully-automatic transmission.

Roddy Perryman says that they chose the Solo SR following in-service trials of all the vehicles in that class on the market. "We concluded that this was a bus that would suit our requirements very well," he says. "It is based on a proven design offering excellent fuel economy and the styling is particularly appealing. It's also liked by our drivers who find that it's the right size for our mainly rural routes as well as being ideal for our local Berwick town services.

"We were also pleased with the way that Optare met our comprehensive specification, including fitting the telematics package and the other features we wanted. With the arrival of these buses, the average age of our 22-strong service bus fleet is now down to under three years old."

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