Euro Bus Expo 2012 - special report (part one)

Our regular Northern-based correspondant Gregg Collins visited the UK's largest bus and coach trade show - Euro Bus Expo at the Birmingham NEC last week.

Using a wonderful variety of photographs taken by Gregg we take a look at some of the newest buses and coaches on the market - including some being revealed for the first time!

We start with a brand new model for the UK (and one of our personal favourites) this is the very attractive Mercedes Benz Citaro K, although available overseas for a number of the years the latest 10.6m version of the Mercedes Benz Citaro is available to the UK market for the first time, with around about 30 seats it is hoped to appeal to London operators, some of whom already favour the 12m version for their large single decker routes.

Another new model unveiled at the event was the suprise Optare MetroCity, like the new Mercedes Benz Citaro K (although with a far less attractive appearance) it is hoped to gain interest from the London market and to that effect the vehicle on display was a TFL compliant version in London red livery, this new model looks basically like the body of a Versa with the front of a Tempo SR stuck on, it will be interesting to see whether any operators take to this, or whether it will just become another Solo+!

Wrightbus had two additions to its increasingly popular Streetlite range on display, this one being the new wheel forward 9.5m EV (Electric Vehicle) version, eight of these will be joining the Arriva The Shires fleet in Milton Keynes next summer, using an innovative coil system buried in the road surface which allows the vehicles to be flash charged each time they stop at a terminus they will be able to operate in zero-emission mode all-day, seven days a week on route 7 between Wolverton and Bletchley.

The other new Streetlite model on display on the Wrightbus stand was the door forward 11.5m Max version, with up to 45 seats it delivers greater fuel efficiency, combined with the increased seating capacity associated with a larger bus. The Max competes head-on with the new, longer Optare Versa, both are of similar length although the Streetlite Max is slightly shorter and seats an extra passenger compared to the Versa.

Next we have the gas powered MAN Ecocity, first seen in the UK with a pair of demonstrators last year it has gained orders from Arriva and also one of our local operators, Go Ahead owned Anglianbus, both operators used funding from the governments Green Bus Fund towards the purchase of these vehicles, speaking of the Green Bus Fund, Transport Minister Norman Baker announced at Euro Bus Expo that an extra £20 million of funds have been made available to allow a 4th round of the Green Bus Fund to take place next year!

Another new single deck vehicle on display was the hybrid Volvo 9700, the vehicle on display was a left hand drive version, but a right hand drive version is imminent and has already gained orders from Lothian Buses (10 vehicles) and Firstgroup (29 vehicles). With their European styling the buses are designed and built totally within the Volvo Group.

Thats it for part one of our special look at Euro Bus Expo 2012 - look out for part two which should be online either later this evening or tomorrow.

Many thanks to Gregg Collins for allowing us the use of his fantastic selection of photographs, they remain copyright to him.