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SALVADOR Caetano (UK) has introduced a single-deck bus body designed to appeal to operators keen to exploit the imminent deregulation of local bus services, The body has been built in collaboration with Volvo on BRIM chassis. It offers a particularly low, slightly ramped, floor with a two-step entrance. The step is only marginally higher than that of rear-engined buses such as the Leyland National.
The bus, which is marketed as the Gaetano Stagecoach is designed to fa into a coach fleet. The first prototype is on a standard 12m manual gearbox BlOM chassis.
After deregulation Caetano believes economy and reliability will he paramount and operators and drivers will be willing to accept manual buses on local bus work. Clutches are cheaper and easier to maintain than automatic transmissions. Nevertheless an automatic I-310M will remain available.
Life is claimed to be 15 years without a rebuild and Caetano says the vehicle will be practical and economical.
The square Stagecoach body uses construction techniques more common in luxury coaches than bus bodies. The Dinol protected steel structure has one-piece stretched steel main side panels. Lower skirt panels and hinged front panels are in aluminium.
Unusually, the Stagecoach has no opening side windows or opening roof vents. The body has one-piece bonded windows for "strength and style". Ventilation is by two powered extractor fans. Body heating is ducted to keep interior heating levels as even as possible and to allow an easy to-clean unluttered floor.
Although Stagecoach is to be exclusively available on Volvo chassis, shorter 10 and llm options are a possibility.
The first 12m example, which will be on show at the CM sponsored International Bus and Coach Exhibition at Earls Court (September 1114) has been certified to carry 57 seated passengers and 28 standing.
It is priced at around 5:60,000.