More Solos for Stagecoach

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Stagecoach Cumbria has recently taken delivery of seven new Optare Solo SRs for its West Cumbria operation. 48129 (YJ24 BFM) entered service in June. STEVEN KNIGHT MEDIA

The Stagecoach Group has almost doubled the number of slimline Solo SRs that it is taking this year from Switch Mobility, reports Steven Knight.

Switch Mobility restarted its Solo production line last year, with Stagecoach initially placing an order for 60 8.5-metre slimline Euro VI versions of the Solo SR in October. The order has since been increased to 118.

The Euro VI diesel version of the Solo SR continues to be sold under the Optare name, and has seating for 28 passengers. The buses will be operated by various Stagecoach operating companies. Stagecoach Cumbria said recently that the seven buses it recently received represent investment of £1 million, giving a total figure of £16.85m for the 118 vehicles.

The first 14 buses delivered were diverted to the Manchester fleet for Transport for Greater Manchester tranche 2 franchised operations. They carry the distinctive ‘Bee Network’ yellow livery.

Other examples of the new Solo SR buses are already in service with West Scotland and South Wales, with the latest deliveries being made to Stagecoach Cumbria and Stagecoach South. Further examples are due for Stagecoach’s South, Cumbria and South Wales areas with operations in Gloucestershire, the South East, the South West, Merseyside and East Scotland also due to add them to their fleets.

Delivery of the buses is enabling Stagecoach to take its oldest Solos out of service.

When the initial contract was placed in October last year Mahesh Babu, Chief Executive Officer of Switch Mobility, said: “We are excited to continue to expand our relationship with Stagecoach. We have taken the decision to restart production of our renowned Solo product and support Stagecoach in replacing its existing Solo fleet.”

Stagecoach bought its first Solo from Optare back in 2001 and that vehicle remains in daily service in Cumbria, although it is technically now part of the company’s heritage fleet.