On Sunday afternoon after lunch in Edinburgh City Centre the rain closed in so my friend and I decided to go to the cinema to see the new Bond film. I'm not here to review the film but can someone give the director a slap and tell him the 15 does NOT go over Westminster Bridge, or indeed any bridge over the Thames! However to get to the cinema meant a ride on one of Lothian's Volvo 7900 Hybrids. I wasn't expecting one of these to be part of the comparison but I'm glad it was.
I went on one of Lothian's older models last year, as well as the ones First Essex have on the 100 Chelmsford - Lakeside service and hated them so much I even tweeted Volvo to say so. But I had a pleasant surprise - the newer ones are a vast improvement. The gap between electric motor cutting out and diesel engine cutting in is much shorter, the horrible vibrations have gone - it's feels far less than a B6 now, and it was a good comfortable ride. My only concern, which my friend who travels regularly on them brought up, is that they are stuffy with no opening windows. I'm not sure in a capital city that is a good move as the climate never has a chance to settle. I would think in Summer they can get extremely hot, but still a massive improvement on the original 7900's.
|Lothian Buses 38 Volvo 7900 Hybrid BG64 FXL in Princes Street Edinburgh|
First of all they are very big, however are still only 42 seaters which is surprising as it looked more. Anyhow I quickly located the bus station, and boarded one of the Stagecoach versions to Westhill, a suburb of Aberdeen about a 30 min journey away. I must say they look rather impressive.
|Stageoach 29905 Van Hool A330 Hydrogen bus SV64 BRZ in Westhill, Aberdeen|
|Rear of 29901|
|First 64994 SV14 FYR in aberdeen|
And so I need to declare the winner - what is the best new bus around at the moment. Obvously for town work it's the Borismaster, but since it's not possible to travel on one out of town yet they can't really be included in an overall survey. So these are the contenders.
Volvo B5tl Gemini 3
Volvo 7900 Hybrid
Van Hool A330 Hydrogen Cell Bus
I knew which had come bottom but as I travelled from Norwich to Beccles 24 hours into my return journey on Tuesday I was still pondering which vehicle should win. Nothing is perfect and ticks all of my boxes. Then reality kicked in and I realised I was traveling on a bus that was quiet, smooth, comfortable, didn't rattle, not stuffy despite a full load, still pulled away well despite a full load, in fact all round the best bus I had travelled on all trip. So the winner of best new bus on the market is a 7 year old Volvo B9tl Gemini 1.
|37568 seen in Norwich Bus Station last year|
1. ADL E400MMC
2. ADL E200MMC
3. Volvo B5tl Gemini 3
4. Volvo 7900 Hybrid
5. Van Hool A330 Hydrogen Cell Bus
6. Wright Streetdeck
7. Wright Streetlite
Look out for special posts on Aberdeen and Borders Railway but I hope you've enjoyed this completely unscientific survey. I always say I'm a passenger first and foremost and these reviews are based soley on the pleasure I derived from traveling on them. Of course cost, fuel economy, emissions etc all play a part in what operators purchase but my backside doesn't take that into account.