FirstGroup places largest ever UK Euro 6 order

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Wrightbus to supply the bulk of the operators £77.7m order, with ADL also providing 117 buses

FirstGroup has announced an order for 385 new buses to be delivered before the end of this financial year – a total spend of over £77m.

The order includes the largest investment by a single operator in the UK for Euro 6 compliant buses, with over 90% (355) of the buses being fitted with the low emission engines.

The £77.7m spend includes around £3m worth of funding from the Scottish Government’s Green Bus Fund, Bristol City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and the Department for Transport (DfT).

This takes FirstGroup’s investment in new vehicles over the past five years up to almost £385m and will enable the replacement of 2,200 vehicles, approximately one third of the company’s fleet in the UK.

Ballymena-based Wrightbus will be supplying 183 micro hybrid StreetLites and 65 StreetDecks, as well as bodying the 20 Volvo B5LHs.

The 65 Wrightbus StreetDecks will be hitting the road after a pair of the buses completed a successful five month trial in Oldham. Managing Director of FirstGroup in the UK, Giles Fearnley, spoke to CBW  and said of his excitement about the vehicles’ “fantastic fuel consumption” and confirmed that they will all be complete with the new bodywork – first seen at the Euro Bus Expo in Birmingham last November.

Falkirk-based ADL will fulfil the rest of the order with 63 Enviro 200s and a total of 54 Enviro400s. Two of these – to serve Bristol – will be ‘Virtual Electric’, part hybrid, part electric. A further five Enviro 400s bound for Stirling are the GK model, with flywheel technology.

The 20 Volvo B5LHs – when delivered – will all be serving one location, but their intended destination is yet to be publicly confirmed.

The remainder of the buses will be deployed nationwide and will serve Aberdeen, Bradford, Bristol, Glasgow, Halifax, Leicester, Slough, Southampton and Swansea.

All of the new buses will come fitted with leather seats, CCTV and free WiFi. Giles confirmed: “It is the 21st century and this is progress. When we’ve carried out surveys the thing that comes up the most is the demand for on-board WiFi.”

FirstGroup will also be trialling the installation of USB charging points on some of the vehicles. These will be particularly prevalent on longer routes in the South Yorkshire area. The usage of the USB Charging points will be closely monitored before deciding whether to extend the number of buses served by them.

Another feature that the whole order of buses will benefit from is a dedicated pushchair space. As well as the space for wheelchairs, tip-up seats replace standard seating. When not in use these will leave enough room for at least one pushchair.

Giles confirmed that despite the record spend, First will be investing in more buses next year with a particular emphasis on deckers.