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hkitalk.net 香港交通資訊網»論壇 (B) Bus 巴士討論區 外地巴士討論 (B5) [GB] Solo - 10 Years On
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[UK] [GB] Solo - 10 Years On

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NV58 發表於 2008-3-8 08:16 | 顯示全部樓層 |閱讀模式

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2008 sees the 10th anniversary of the superlative Optare Solo midibus in passenger service. Launched in 1997 as the replacement of Metrorider, the Solo not only won the "Millennium Product" and "The Queen's Awards for Enterprise 2000", but also becomes Optare's best selling product ever. Over 3,000 has been sold during the course of 10-year production, with customer base from the British "Big 5" - First, Stagecoach, National Express, Go-Ahead and Arriva, but also smaller groups and independent operators alike. It becomes the first midibus to seriously threaten the popular Dennis Dart since the latter went into production in 1989, and the Solo manage to out-compete the equivalent sized Darts in almost across the country, except London.

So it seems a good time to reflect this undoubtedly successful bus. Apart from the early production R-reg examples, of which all found their way with Wilts and Dorset, here are some Solos made into service at various different UK registration period.

S-reg (Sep 1998 - Feb 1999)
Optare managed to secure health orders from various customers early on, but non of which would have been as important as National Express Group, who ordered 10 for their Travel London operations. However, the Solo itself would, and still, never manage to dislodge Dart's popularity in London. Less than 100 Solos have made it to service in London Buses operations, and Travel London's Solos, after an eventful life in London, would be transferred into other NatEx operations. Travel Coventry's 3236, for instance, was formerly Travel London 236:


T-reg (Mar - Aug 1999)
Another early customer is Meteor Parking, who specified what would become one of the oddest looking Solos in service:


V-reg (Sep 1999 - Feb 2000)
Despite its lack of appeal in London, the Solo quick found favour across the country. One important customer was the then council-owned Notthingham City Transport.


W-reg (Mar - Aug 2000)
Originally the Solo was offered at two length - 8.5m and 9.2m. This is the 9.2m version.


X-reg (Sep 2000 - Feb 2001)
...whilst this is the short 8.5m version owned by West Yorkshire County Council, but operated by First West Yorkshire.


Y-reg (Mar - Aug 2001)
Meanwhile, the tickle of Solos into London continued...


51-reg (Sep 2001 - Feb 2002)
As Optare made a major breakthrough by winning an initial order of 24 Solos from Stagecoach. 47001 is the first of the line:


02-reg (Mar - Aug 2002)
First, however, is a much earlier customer, who got their first Solos 2 years before. Eventually they would built up a substantial fleet across Britain.


52-reg (Sep 2002 - Feb 2003)
Solos success, as mentioned, was never realised in London at all. This example, new to Epsom Buses near the end of 2002, is amazing one of the last Solos bought for London Buses services at the moment.


03-reg (Mar - Aug 2003)
Stagecoach's next batch of Solos would be bought for a high profile of service, branded as Corby Star for town service in Corby. Solos become Stagecoach's standard minibus, and they would build up a fleet of over 500 Solos across Britain by 2007.


53-reg (Sep 2003 - Feb 2004)
Built as the Metrorider's successor, the Solo still retain some family resemblance:


04-reg (Mar - Aug 2004)
The Solo is also preferred by many local councils. YN04XYY is owned by Lancashire County Council, and seen operated by Kirby Lonsdale Mini Coaches on the Lune Valley services.


[ 本帖最後由 NV58 於 2008-3-8 00:22 編輯 ]

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Tinyl Bus Photography - FB Group
Gavin 發表於 2008-3-9 21:00 | 顯示全部樓層
I've taken a few bus photos in Britain during trip last year.

Here are the S to 07 reg Solos

[ 本帖最後由 Gavin 於 2008-3-9 21:02 編輯 ]
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Gavin 發表於 2008-3-9 21:00 | 顯示全部樓層
cont'd

[ 本帖最後由 Gavin 於 2008-3-9 21:07 編輯 ]
E235.JPG
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smal 發表於 2008-3-11 04:34 | 顯示全部樓層

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Many Happy Returns! ;)

[ 本帖最後由 smal 於 2008-3-11 04:42 編輯 ]
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老二做PR, GER 走晒, Inevitable
 樓主| NV58 發表於 2008-3-8 08:17 | 顯示全部樓層
Cont'

54-reg (Sep 2004 - Feb 2005)
Another operation what the Solos are commonly found are free shuttlebus service, like this Go North East example, operating the NewcastleMetrocentre shuttle service. This particular example, with a longerrear overhang, is powered by a Cummins engine, an new offer since 2002as an option to the standard Mercedes-Benz engine:


05-reg (Mar - Aug 2005)
Optare expanded the Solo product line further by offering the SoloSlimline, which is essentially a narrow version. This, along with thenew 7.8m and 10.2m length offered, expanded Solo's appeal - althoughthe 7.8m would prove a lot more successful than the awkwardly long 10mversion.


55-reg (Sep 2005 - Feb 2006)
Another improvement, although not possible to see here, is theintroduction of a new interor based on the Tempo full-size singledecker. This feature can be found like newer Solos like these operatedby Preston Bus. Already an established operator of Solos andMetroriders, Preston Bus would buy more in the clash with Stagecoach in2007, in one of Britain's hottest bus war in recent years.


06-reg (Mar - Aug 2006)
Another free-shuttle, although much shorter life, is the Stationlink ofBirmingham, operated by Zak's coaches until last year, when the servicewas withdrawn.


56-reg (Sep 2006 - Feb 2007)
Meanwhile, Optare offered yet another version of Solo, the Solo SE.This version is offered at a lower price, and shorter lengths as well,7.8m and (seen here) 7.1m, making it a proper replacement of smallminibuses.


Small improvement also made it to existing line of products as well, as seen in these two 8.5m Solos owned by Preston Bus:


07-reg
Yet another free-shuttle Solo, this time in Leeds, operated by First West Yorkshire with 9.5m Solo Slimlines.


57-reg
As Stagecoach continue building up their fleet of Solos, it also becameits weapon of choice in the Preston bus war. This Solo Slimline though,47524, is actually destined for Stagecoach Wales, but was loaned toStagecoach Lancashire to provide additional low-floor capacity.


And so the story continues...

N.B. New post due to character limit.
Tinyl Bus Photography - FB Group
hr8473 發表於 2008-3-8 09:48 | 顯示全部樓層
如果 Metrorider 當年o係香港搞得掂o既話香港或者都會見到 Solo
不過依家日本 29 座長陣小巴咁流行,當o係香港見到 Solo 睇怕都係 0
Kwan @ Siemens Medical Solutions
 樓主| NV58 發表於 2008-3-8 19:59 | 顯示全部樓層

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原帖由 hr8473 於 2008-3-8 01:48 發表
如果 Metrorider 當年o係香港搞得掂o既話香港或者都會見到 Solo
不過依家日本 29 座長陣小巴咁流行,當o係香港見到 Solo 睇怕都係 0


They are for different purposes though. Those Coasters and Rosas are popular as mini-coaches, a role which the Solo will never fit well into - Afterall, the Solo is designed mainly for commuter services.

It's a shame that the Solo is somehow overlooked in HK though. It's a great little bus, well proven in Britain, and to a much lesser extents, the European market as well. It's size and capacity makes it an perfect fit to buses like KMB's AMs and it is a very realistic alternative to its rival, the ADL Enviro200Dart, but since KMB opted for the E200D, so we can almost be certain it will not be considered at all. The shortest Solo SE will provide an opportunity to bring accessible services to HK's minibus services as well, but, of course, the Solo SE costs so much more than comtemporary Japanese products that it rules itself out anyway.
Tinyl Bus Photography - FB Group
ate7 發表於 2008-3-8 20:32 | 顯示全部樓層
原帖由 NV58 於 2008-3-8 19:59 發表


They are for different purposes though. Those Coasters and Rosas are popular as mini-coaches, a role which the Solo will never fit well into - Afterall, the Solo is designed mainly for commuter services.


Yes, Coasters and Rosas are initially designed as mini-coaches, but thanks to HKians, well Chinese I should say, they converted Coasters and Rosas into commuter bus, which as RMB and GMB in HK, as well KMB ATs, and Macau's buses.  So it is not too difficult to understand why some people compared Solos with Coasters and Rosas.
 樓主| NV58 發表於 2008-3-8 20:44 | 顯示全部樓層
原帖由 ate7 於 2008-3-8 12:32 發表


Yes, Coasters and Rosas are initially designed as mini-coaches, but thanks to HKians, well Chinese I should say, they converted Coasters and Rosas into commuter bus, which as RMB and GMB in HK, as w ...


To be fair, those vehicles are versatile, and cheap to run as well. Who can blame them? The only thing is, as much of the HK bus services move into low floor operations, the Coaster/Rosa equipped minibuses will be continuously outclassed - I mean only if passengers or the government care about that in the first place.

[ 本帖最後由 NV58 於 2008-3-8 12:46 編輯 ]
Tinyl Bus Photography - FB Group
kmb_gu657 發表於 2008-3-9 07:57 | 顯示全部樓層

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S-reg




T-reg


V-reg


Y-reg




51-reg


52-reg


03-reg


54-reg


05-reg
ATE22 發表於 2008-3-9 08:57 | 顯示全部樓層
AV115 發表於 2008-3-9 10:26 | 顯示全部樓層
come to that, is it possible to put Solo in Macau? It seems that Macau needs such buses much more than Hong Kong does. Perhaps replacing the Mercedes 814 when they get old?
DIH 發表於 2008-3-9 12:46 | 顯示全部樓層
原帖由 AV115 於 2008-3-9 10:26 發表
come to that, is it possible to put Solo in Macau? It seems that Macau needs such buses much more than Hong Kong does. Perhaps replacing the Mercedes 814 when they get old?

A post in B4 said that bus companies in Macau are short of drivers.
Importing a Solo or a Kinglong will not make any difference to that.
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