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Friday, 9 November 2012

Euro Bus Expo 2012

The new Optare MetroCity for London
Photo: Stuart Jones Bus and Coach Buyer

It only seems yesterday we were bathed in the heat of summer in the Olympic Park. Now it is mid-November, the nights are long, which must mean our  annual expedition to Birmingham for the industry's trade show at NEC Birmingham.

There are in fact two different shows both occurring every two years. This one was the Euro Bus Expo and lasted over three days.

Our New Bus for London was there - LT3 looking resplendent despite already having several months' daily service under its belt. ADL and Optare showed their latest wares, as did all the other major manufacturers.

Technology continues to make great strides; the latest hybrid and electric vehicles demonstrate how far things have come in the past few years. Transport Minister Norman Baker announced a further £20m Green Bus Fund, again demonstrating Government determination to get the volumes of ultra-low emission vehicles up and unit costs down.

Science is also delivering assistance in many other areas of the industry. These include systems to improve engineering and operating efficiency, vehicle tracking, and fuel economy.

I was impressed with the Optare MetroCity on display for London operation. This 10.6m single-decker is designed for urban bus conditions, is light, which allows a capacity of 60 passengers, and at long last allows a rear window - a feature missing from this particular manufacturer's products for some time.

Optare already has a number of full, size electric vehicles in operation - so far with good results - and in a design where the vehicle requires very little modification regardless of the power plant, be that diesel, hybrid or EV.

So an optimistic show in tough economic conditions. The industry is trying hard for sure.

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