London sightseeing specialists, the Big Bus Company, are so pleased with the performance of their ten Volvo B9TLs with Optare Visionaire bodywork - the first brand new buses to be bought for the company’s UK operation - that they are currently taking delivery of ten more!
All twenty have been specified with Volvo’s Euro 5 Incentive D9B 9.4 litre engine rated at 260hp, coupled to the Voith gearbox. The double decks have been specifically designed for sightseeing tours – half being completely open top and the remainder being ‘half top’. The 10.8m vehicles have capacity for 31 seats on the lower deck (or 27 with wheelchair) and 51 on the upper deck.
All vehicles are fully accessible, with a ramp at the entrance and wheelchair position at the nearside front. All feature bonded double glazing and LED destination equipment, as well as a multi-lingual audio system which, on the first ten, has capability for up to 10 languages and on the current batch can handle up to 24 languages.
“One of the main reasons for opting for Volvo was their ability to deliver Euro 5 right now,” explained Engineering Director, Gerry Price. “We’re a forward looking company and are keen to minimise our impact on the London environment as much as possible.
“Both Volvo and Optare are companies we knew we could trust in terms of quality and reliability and they have worked well with us to come up with a vehicle which fulfilled our requirements. The buses are now performing very well, proving very popular with our drivers, and the service support we receive is from Volvo is first class – you can’t ask for more than that!”
Buckinghamshire operator, Souls Brothers, took delivery of a tri-axle Volvo B9TLs with Optare bodywork in 2008. The 100 seat double deck is used on some of the many schools contracts in which Souls specialise.
“We were looking for a high capacity vehicle as they are perfect for our operations,” explained Managing Director, David Soul. “We have a number of older Volvos in our fleet and have always found them to be particularly reliable so when we saw that Volvo were introducing a tri-axle double deck, we jumped at the chance.”
Specified with Volvo’s Euro 5 compliant D9B engine rated at 310hp, coupled to the ZF Ecolife gearbox, the high capacity buses provide many of the comforts of coach travel. Configured with 100 high back seats, all of which are fitted with three point belts, the vehicles have luggage racks fitted on both sides of the upper deck and also on the lower saloon, forward of the rear axle. Three tables are located to the rear of the lower deck and the high spec vehicles also feature bonded double glazing; air conditioning throughout, including independent driver’s system; a DVD System with saloon monitors; bronze tinted windows and PA system, as well as Mobitec LED destination equipment, a Bridge clear device and a Look seven camera CCTV system
“With Volvo, we know that, not only are we providing a smooth and comfortable ride, but that the schoolchildren are being transported in the utmost safety,” explained David. “It has also enabled us to consolidate two of our existing school contracts into one with consequent savings in staffing, fuel and depreciation costs.”
Beestons of Hadleigh in Suffolk are to boost their private hire capacity with a new Volvo B9TL tri-axle bus due for delivery in March.
The Optare Olympus bodied double deck is specified with Volvo’s Euro 5 Incentive D9B 9.4 litre engine rated at 310hp, coupled to ZF’s Ecolife six speed automatic gearbox. Its high spec interior will give passengers a coach-like feel, featuring 100 high back seats with leather headrest inserts, three point seat belts, luggage racks and bronze tinted bonded glazing, along with two tables to the rear of the lower deck, a PA system, as well as Mobitec LED destination equipment and a Look eight camera CCTV system.
Beestons believe that high capacity is the way forward with private hire. “We bought two similar second hand vehicles from Hong Kong a few years ago for our private hire business and they are undoubtedly the busiest vehicles we have,” commented Operations Manager, Tom Munson. “Large parties love them as they don’t have to be split onto two coaches and there are obvious savings for us in fuel and staff costs.”
The new buses will be used for school contract work and private hire, particularly in and out of London.
Beestons have also ordered a Volvo B12B tri-axle coach with Van Hool bodywork from Volvo dealers, Moseley for delivery at the same time. Having bought from another manufacturer over the past few years, Beestons have again turned to Volvo because they are able to offer the right type of vehicle that they require for their operations.
The Ensignbus Company of Essex has taken delivery of ten Volvo B9TLs for operation on its scheduled services in Thurrock.
Fitted with Optare Olympus bodywork, the double decks are specified with Volvo’s Euro 4 compliant D9B 9.4 litre engine, rated at 260hp and coupled to the ZF Ecolife gearbox. All are fitted with 82 seats and feature a 12 camera CCTV system and digital destination displays to the front, sides and rear.
Their investment in the routes was due to the high volume of passengers on the services concerned. “We wanted to increase capacity on busy routes and increasing from single to double decks was the obvious solution,” explained Peter Newman, Chairman of the Ensign Group.
“We chose Volvo because we already run 11 Volvo Olympian double decks as part of our 50 strong Essex fleet which we find very reliable. We had high expectations of these new double decks and they are certainly living up to them!” he added.
Ensignbus are no strangers to the B9TL product. In 2003 the Group’s City Sightseeing Worldwide operation chose Volvo as its primary supplier of chassis for new open top buses. Since then over 120 vehicles have been delivered to locations in Spain, Italy and Greece, of which 70 are B9TLs.
Canterbury Park and Ride
Ten new Optare bodied Volvo buses have gone into service on Canterbury’s new Park and Ride service which is operated by Kent Top Travel on behalf of the City Council. Four of the buses are B9TLs and the remainder are B7RLEs.
All ten of the new vehicles are Euro 5 Incentive compliant: the B9TLs with Volvo’s D9B 9.4 litre engine rated at 260hp and the B7RLEs with Volvo’s common rail 7.1 litre D7E engine, rated at 290hp. Both products feature ZF gearboxes.
The low floor buses, which feature a distinctive new silver and green livery, are fitted with Esteban Civic VO seats (81 on the double decks and 43 on the single decks), CCTV system, CD/radio and Hanover LED destination equipment. They are now all in operation on the busy Park and Ride facility which operates from three sites in Canterbury.
After 38 years in business, Confidence Bus Ltd of Leicester have bought their first ever new vehicle – a Volvo B9TL with Optare bodywork.
The company’s 30-strong fleet of second hand coaches and double decks handles a busy mix of school contracts and private hire for community groups. Being conscious of new legislation concerning accessibility, however, the company decided that the time had come to buy new.
“We see this as the beginning of a new era for the company as our newest vehicle is actually 15 years old and the oldest one we have in regular service is 26,” explained Transport Manager, Andy Harris. “Our customers are very happy with our vehicles, all of which are of a very high quality, and they love the classic designs, but this new vehicle provides us with low-floor, easy access for all passengers. And, being Euro 5 Incentive, it enables us to travel into London, which we can’t do at the moment.”
The new Volvo B9TL has been specified with Volvo’s D9B 9.4 litre engine coupled to the Voith gearbox. The Optare Olympus double deck body has capacity for 77 passengers, including 74 Abacus ‘Bodyguard’ fixed seats and three tip-ups, about which Andy commented, “We sacrificed seating capacity for increased legroom and additional pitch, to ensure that our passengers travel in comfort.”
All of the fixed seats have three-point seatbelts, and the vehicle also boasts a PA system, radio and CD, a six camera CCTV system, gasket glazing to increase uptime and ease of maintenance, additional hopper windows at the front, upper deck, digital tachograph and tree deflector.
The body’s modern design provides a striking contrast with its corporate black and grey livery and old style, manual destination blinds which incorporate the traditional Leicester City typeface, ensuring it stands out from the crowd.
“We came to Volvo because, as far as we’re concerned, it’s a tried and tested product,” explained Andy. “Although we’ve not bought new before, we’ve had a number of Leylands and Volvos in our fleet which have proved extremely reliable. Also, Volvo were able to deliver exactly the product we wanted, when we wanted it.”
The new bus is being used for private hire, and in particular for funerals. “Leicester has a large Asian community and we regularly take bookings for large parties to attend funerals,” explained Andy. “I’m sure that the distinguished appearance, livery and comfortable interior of the new vehicle will make it ideal for this particular niche and raise the profile of the company in this and other markets.”
26 February 2009
Caption for photograph:
Big Bus Company have taken delivery of ten more Volvo B9TLs for London sightseeing tours.