Scania’s Omnicity articulated demonstrator, YN54 ALO, has been tested
for a 10-day period to allow uni-link to consider whether articulated
buses offer a future alternative to the buses they currently operate. The
bus has 54 seats, and the capacity to carry 145 passengers when fully loaded.
It has a 260hp (191 kw) Euro 3 engine, with ZF gearbox and retarder.
The evaluation of the ‘Bendy-bus’ was undertaken because capacity is a major issue for uni-link, owing to the increasing popularity of their services and the continuing growth in passenger carryings year-on-year. The bus was used on the busy cross-city U1 route, which links Southampton Airport and Parkway railway station to Southampton city centre and the waterfront ferry terminals.
Alec Gore, University of Southampton’s Transport Manager said, “Our business has grown very rapidly, and that growth shows no signs of slowing down, so we have to address capacity issues to provide the standard of service passengers expect. At times, the current travelling environment is suffering owing to crush loadings. Fleet expansion is possible, and we are looking to work with our service provider- Accord Operations- to invest in vehicles which best suit our needs.”
George Fair, Operations Manager of Accord Operations Ltd, said, “Many of our drivers have found the main benefit of the articulated Scania is the reduced dwell times at bus stops. Thanks to being fully smartcard enabled, we can board large numbers of passengers very swiftly. We often carry a full standing load, and with this articulated single-decker, we have been able to empty a full load in approximately one minute! This is a great improvement compared to a decker, when those boarding are hindered by the bottleneck between the two sets of doors and the stairs, as the upper deck passengers slowly exit the vehicle. An added bonus is that several of our drivers have had previous experience driving articulated buses in Southampton. Uni-link’s reliability and punctuality is widely recognised by passengers in the city, and with replacement of our oldest vehicles looming as they approach their sixth year with us, now is the time to plan for future growth in Southampton.”