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Monday, 2 July 2018

Optare Metrodecker Finally Takes Off

Long time readers will know that I was highly impressed by the Optare Metrodecker when Borderbus trialed it a couple of years ago, when Ipswich Buses trialed it, and most recently when Reading Buses tried it out on their Greenline 702 route. I wasn't quiet in my praise for it, and that I thought it was the best bus by far built in this country.

Well it seems Reading Buses agreed with me - their drivers certainly did - and they have ordered 5 high spec Metrodeckers for the route, which will be delivered next year. I also waxed lyrical over the BCI Enterprise which Reading Buses have also ordered 2 of, not for the 702, although it's likely they will be used in Legoland high season due to their greater seating capacity.

But this post is about the Metrodecker, and, on top of the Reading order, Transport for London have ordered 31 fully electric Metrodeckers as part of a 68 electric decker order which includes 37 ADL/BYD electric deckers, which will have the E400Citi body.

I am delighted for Optare. They have taken their time to develop this bus, listening and working with operators to ensure they produce a vehicle operators and passengers alike will use.

The Metrodecker in Windsor back in April
I quite liked that blue livery, however now it looks very different. Reading have been loaned the bus long term while their own Metrodeckers are being built and she has been given the Greenline treatment, and wow she looks good. Unveiled at yesterday's Reading Buses open day I am grateful to DS Trains, Mangopear Creative, and the maestro himself, Martijn Gilbert for sending me pictures of 899 in her new glory. Cheers, guys!

Pic (c) DS Trains
pic (c) Mangopear Creative
pic (c) Martijn Gilbert
pic (c) Martijn Gilbert
pic (c) Martijn Gilbert
I hope this is just the start for the Metrodecker. The vehicle deserves it, as do Optare for not rushing it. Kudos to Reading Buses for negotiating the deal with Optare, and for listening to their drivers, not to mention the odd blogger - very odd in my case!

14 comments:

  1. I must have missed something from the Optare history, but...

    Why has Optare got such a bad reputation? I quite like their single deckers, and are often cheaper than ADL and Wright. Why do the big 5 avoid them so much?

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  2. Most of the big 5 have Solos and Versas. The Spectra I always thought was a great decker, but I must be honest I've never really been grabbed by the Excel or Tempo. it can be a number of things, from after sales care, to providing the right spec, to delivery time.

    One thing is certain, to impress people of the calibre of Martijn Gilbert and Dave Bickerton Optare must really have upped their game and come to the party.

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    Replies
    1. It is a rare day when I don't have some form of contact with John so where did Dave come from!! Just call me Trigger......

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  3. RIP BCI Enterprise!

    http://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/16327038.bus-believed-to-be-carrying-children-crashes-with-lorry-on-a120/

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    Replies
    1. Everyone who has to drive for a living in this weather has my sympathy.

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    2. RIP Enterprise but not RIP anyone else, which is testament to the build quality of the BCI, and I suggest seat belts too.

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  4. It's good to see the 702 being given a new lease of life, and with Optare too. I hope it succeeds; it deserves to with the imagination that is evidently going into the relaunch. I grew up with Green Line, but of course times have changed and they got left behind. A bit like Optare. But history is important. How else do we understand anything?

    Whilst indulging in a bit of nostalgia, I'm constantly surprised by how the more I learn the more I realise I don't know. What is it that makes Reading buses, and others successful? It isn't money, as important as that is as everyone keeps telling me; is it ideas and creativity which are more important? I think so.

    I don't buy much these days, but when I do I want something that has the personality of its creator in it, made with passion. Not because of the image or the name or whatever mass-produced else comes out of a PR factory. Perhaps it's the same with services? Whenever I see First's attempts at promo shots I'm always reminded of Prince Charles' legendary dictum on the then Chinese leadership at the Hong Kong handover ceremony: "appaling old waxworks". (Though the Chinese are actually one of the more creative races - Deng clearly learned how not to do it from Mao). Though they tried hard, kudos to First for seeing they had reached the end of the road with the 702 (at least); not just money, but ideas.

    In a way it's a (perhaps inevitable) tragedy that as First declare if Government comes up with the ideas they'll come along (though one wonders with what, exactly); Reading show again that, hopefully, it's the ideas that attract the money. First, not for the first time, again, have got hold of the wrong end of the stick. They blew the bank buying Laidlaw's transport interests in the US with no idea what they were going to do with them afterwards. Didn't they learn anything?

    I recall Bill Hiron at a recent awards ceremony, when asked what was the secret of Stephensons success (made out of running viable services that First can't) replied "we don't have the bureaucracy". Do First have so many managers that they spend all their time trying to avoid falling over each other, or more probably trying to make each other fall over? No one can take the risk of looking up, or ahead. It feels like it.

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    1. Reading. Brighton. Oxford. Cambridge. Bristol. Nottingham. Edinburgh.
      High car parking charges in the central area, and not much of it. Compare and contrast with other cities....

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    2. Yep. To afford to be adventurous you need to have a captive market to pay for it. And over most of the country First just don't have one. Poor decisions, often long ago. The past haunts us, again.

      Most local Councils simply can't afford to restrict car parking. They depend on the income.

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    3. and of course as a bus manager if it's all down to car parking, there's nowt you can do about it, and the job becomes much easier. Doze on . . .

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  5. East Anglia Rail Timetable Changes 2019

    Lets hope they are better prepared than Thameslink were. I have my concerns as to the capacity to fit in all these extra trains and to maintain a reliable timetable

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    1. Has the proposed timetable been released yet? I don't think it will be nearly as stressful as the Thameslink timetable change for one reason. There are very few stretches of line GA shares with anyone else whereas with TL there are very few lines they don't share with anyone else.

      The GA network has actually reduced with London Overground and Crossrail, and since they aren't taking over any new routes driver training will be restricted to the new trains, not new trains AND new routes. I don't think GA will have a problem, but the ever unreliable infrastructure? That's the bit that concerns me.

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  6. Clacton Bus Changes

    The Heddingham timetables for the First Bus Routes they are taking over are now available on their website

    https://www.hedingham.co.uk/timetables/

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