Northern alights on artic
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• Optare could win its first order for an articulated bus — if Go-Ahead Northern wins council backing for a £.5m guided busway in Tyne & Wear.
The Gateshead-based operator has not made a final decision on the bodybuilder for the 12 artics, which would be designed to run on both road and guided track. But it is likely to order Optare bodies based on the single-deck Delta with an articulated version of the Daf SB220 chassis: "Optare is at the forefront of our consideration," says Chris Moyes, Go-Ahead's commercial director. It operates 19 Optare Deltas and 14 MetroRiders in its fleet of 700.
Daf has already built the articulated version of the SB220 chassis for Holland where it is marketed as the SBG. Leedsbased Optare says its Alusuisse body could "quite easily be adapted to an artic".
The Newcastle-to-Sunderland scheme could be operational by the end of 1994 if the councils in the area agree to invest £2.5m in road and traffic management systems. Go-Ahead Northern is calling for backing from councils in Gateshead, Sunderland and Newcastle and from the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive.
Go-Ahead hopes to order the artics within the next 12 months: they will cost around £155,000 each and will be designed to carry around 120 passengers, around 75 of whom would be seated. Guide rails will take over the steering, leaving the driver to concentrate on speed, smooth stops and departures.
The buses will be stationed in the Philadelphia area and are due to run at 714 minute intervals, cutting the present return jour ney times by up to 26 minutes. "We are not trying to run in competition with the Metro system, but rather to enhance it," says Moyes. will open up Metro-style travel to growing populations in places which could never be served adequately by rail, even if the Metro system were to be enlarged to Sunderland."
Optare has increased its workforce by 25 this month to 320 in response to a growing demand for its MetroRider. This record figure could be increased even further with a MetroRider order book exceeding 100.