Plaxton’s flagship Elite will offer an option for roll-on access for wheelchair users later this year, along with a full length cabin to provide the optimum combination of capacity and comfort. The new model will be the first through-deck coach to be built in Britain and has been developed to offer wheelchair passengers easier access whilst maximising capacity.
The first customer for the new model will be Stagecoach, which has ordered eleven on Volvo chassis for delivery in 2012-13.
They will be used on the megabus.com network. The new coach will be available from the last quarter of this year, initially as a 15m model configured for express service operation. Alternative lengths and layouts will be offered from early in 2013.
Kevin Wood, Plaxton sales and marketing director, said: “We initially launched the Elite as a high-specification tri-axle 14m coach in 2008, but always intended it would develop into a range of top-quality models “First was the 12.6m two-axle model followed by the maximum length 15m in 2009, and now comes the Interdeck Elite, which will be available both as an express coach and as a touring model.
“Two features stand out. First, there is no need to fit a wheelchair lift, which benefits users with much better access and benefits operators by reducing maintenance and training requirements. The second feature is the ability to offer up to 72 seats, but with the flexibility to offer a wide range of seating layouts, as we do on all our models.”
Investment in the new model by ADL in its Plaxton division is in the region of £1m. The new coach will be based on the proven stainless steel technology of Panther and Elite, but will usher in an entirely new structure to accommodate the 3.9m high vehicle and offers the potential for additional models in the future. An aim is to retain a high degree of parts commonality. A key distinguishing feature will be a restyled profile, necessary to accommodate the through-floor design.
“As well as building coaches for megabus.com we will be in a position to take orders for delivery to other customers in time for the 2013 season.” Kevin Wood added.
Full story in next week’s CBW.