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Thursday, 17 September 2009

ftr Swansea

Wednesday and it's Swansea for the all-important launch of their ftrMetro.

These are the last of the batch to enter service and what great strides the City of Swansea has made. Long stretches of bus-only track, one through the city itself and a gated expressway away from a congested area.

One long sunny day our team had the launch venues all prepared early on and our guests were soon arriving. Senior officials from the City, Welsh Assembly Government and our other stakeholders assembled firstly to name one of the vehicles "City of Swansea" (the city is celebrating its 40th anniversary of being one) and then to formally launch the ftrMetro service.
[The photo shows left to right Sir Moir, me, the Lord Mayor, and others plus Tony McNiff, MD First Cymru far right].

Sir Moir Lockhead was on hand to carry out the ceremonies and present some fine models of the StreetCar vehicle to the representatives of the partner organisations. He also handed one to Keith Sheard, who has been the Chief Test Pilot since the inception of the ftr programme. He has worked with every operating company to bring the vehicles into service and it is him in the cab in nearly every official photograph!

One of the vehicles in Swansea is the original ftr prototype as shown to the world several years ago and which has just completed a major overhaul to bring it up to production standards. Despite this it still has a different front suspension arrangement but is otherwise indistinguisable from the rest of the batch.

All the vehicles at Swansea have leather seats and we are progressively converting the rest of them as the original moquette ones wear out. They are being one one vehicle at a time and some are already in evidence in York and Leeds.

The brings to an end the first group of ftr projects. StreetCars are now being produced by Wrights for Las Vegas and about 30 of the 50 ordered are now in stock there ready for entry into service in January 2010.

For the UK Bus Rapid Transit remains a big issue and potential projects are being developed. What is clear is that, like Las Vegas, the next vehicles are likely to be hybrid, and to that end we are still at quite an early stage of learning with the seed vehicles in London.

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