Route branding is applied to the 11 new Solos, with a further five on route in the next few months
Berkshire-based Courtney Buses has introduced a fleet of 11 new 29-seater Optare Solo SRs onto its Windsor and Maidenhead routes. The operator has opted to route brand the latest delivery of vehicles – which the firm said has brought widespread praise from the public.
In addition Courtney has fitted Hanover TFT screens with ‘next stop’ voice recognition and full colour destination equipment to the whole of the new fleet to improve passenger information, specifically, assisting the visually impaired and the hard of hearing members of the public.
The vehicles are powered by Mercedes-Benz OM904LA engines rated at 154 bhp (115 kW) and 610 Nm of torque. The Allison 2100 Series five-speed automatic transmission is fitted with a torque convertor, which helps improve fuel efficiency, as does the electromagnetic retarder which operates automatically when the footbrake is applied.
Bill Courtney, Managing Director, is said to have deliberated long and hard over the make and model of his investment, and Optare’s promises are yet to be proven, however the public response has demonstrated it was the right decision to make in terms of passenger benefits.
Barry Catlin, Training Manager, said: “When the vehicles first arrived we felt it was important to spend time instructing our staff on how to best use the eco drive technology to provide a smooth and comfortable journey for our passengers and to assist in reducing the fuel consumption. Many drivers acknowledge the benefit of the eco dashboard with the easy to read bars, economy dial and driver skill counter giving them instant feedback on their driving style and assisting them in maintaining a good driving standard.
“Our drivers enjoy working with the Optare SR as it gives a very smooth and quiet drive, there is excellent visibility from the cab position and the large mirrors give good vision to the rear. The instrument cluster to the right means the main dashboard has an uncluttered appearance and the cab feels spacious.
“All the vehicles have the benefit of Synectics CCTV which is easy to download and view. The allround coverage of the cameras not only protects our company from fraudulent claims but is also used as an instruction tool to show drivers the specific dangers on each route.
“As colour branding was so successful in Maidenhead we made the decision to rebrand the 171/172 routes in Bracknell. This fresh approach produced positive feedback from our customers during the launch day held back in February in Maidenhead.
“Bill has always firmly believed operating a high quality fleet of vehicles will attract custom through recommendation. Any new vehicles ordered will always have ‘Courtney Standard Livery’, with Esteban V3 seating with embossed leather headrests and up to the minute technology.
“Having an in-house full-sized commercial bake oven allows us to re-spray and maintain all the body work for our vehicles and with an experienced team of engineers, enables us to keep disruption to a minimum.
”The company uses Regenatec’s UCO system to run buses on biofuel, which is claimed to reduce its carbon footprint by 97%. In line with Courtney’s vehicle replacement policy, Bill Courtney has placed an order for another five Optares, due within the next few months.