Comfort in high capacity

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Coach and bus operators have a diverse number of vehicle options open to them when purchasing new. Richard Sharman takes a look at a vehicle which it’s hoped will fill a large gap in the market that has had minimal options in recent years

The holy grail for many years in mass transport has been a dual-purpose bus that is capable of carrying 100 seated passengers. It was a trend that was started by former Hong Kong tri-axle Leyland Olympians that mostly operated on the Megabus network before filtering down to independents; those vehicles still command a high price on the used market on the rare occasion they become available, despite many being over 30 years old.

In 2009, and for three years after, Volvo was in the 100-seater market with the Optare Olympus. Seating 61 upstairs and 39 downstairs, it was a popular option due to its powerful D9A engine and high-backed seating. As with the former Hong Kong Olympians, these are still sought after but rarely change hands.

High demand

Richard Mann, Sales Manager at Volvo Bus & Coach explained: “We’d had numerous customers ask us over the years if we planned to do a 100-seat double-decker again, so it has always been at the back of our mind. In 2018 our colleagues at Volvo Sweden developed the Volvo B8L chassis for the Hong Kong market, which required a Euro V option. MCV bodied the first example and it attended the Volvo Ocean Race event.

“Given that Hong Kong also uses right-hand-drive chassis, we thought that the B8L could provide the solution we needed for Volvo in the UK to offer a 100-seater double-decker once again.

MCV is a key bodybuilding partner for Volvo, and as they bodied the very first B8L example they were the perfect partner for this project with us in the UK.

“Golden Tours, who took the very first MCV eVoTor coaches, had a requirement for large capacity double-deckers to operate the Harry Potter shuttle service from Central London. The route spends significant time on the motorway, so Golden Tours also required a larger engine; at 350bhp the D8K engine is well suited to not just the city but also the motorway. The company has taken the first eight vehicles for the service.

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