First Group is to follow Arriva’s lead by introducing in service a Turkish-built Temsa Avenue. We had a brief look at a LHD version at the 2008 show.
An artist’s impression. Looks better in First’s lighter livery than in Arriva’s darker colours. It’s kind of a cross between a Lynx, Tempo and the Citaro variant with First ManchesterTurkish buses in the UK haven’t much of a reputation. Upon its purchase of Chesterbus, First quickly dispensed with its eight BMC 1100 single decks said optimistically to have spearheaded Chesterbus’ comeback. The unloved ex-Chesterbus 1100s briefly became something of a white elephant in the eyes of the established industry, in the way that the former Oxford Tube Skyliners and ex-London Citaro bendies have recently.
Using them on the Chester park & ride, our Northern Correspondent felt that the 1100’s ride was just a little harsh but actually not unacceptable, especially over shorter distances. Rather, it was the fit, finish and internal noise levels that let the 1100 down.
Will the Temsa Avenue overcome the flaws we’ve come to see from fellow Turkish stablemate BMC? There’s no point in denying that the Avenue, like the 1100, is lightweight. In fact, being lightweight is its “strength”, for the reason for the trial is to judge whether a sub-10 ton bus—at about on ton lighter than usual, these days—made of a high proportion of composites is able to deliver the promised up to 20 per cent improvement in fuel consumption.
But will it last? Mainstream UK bus operators have tended to shy away from lightweights. There’ve been surprises but lightweights aren’t renown for their durability or longevity. Operators favour heavyweights with First in particular turning to the Volvo/Wrightbus combination. With the composite-rich Avenue, though, it might be time to trade life span against reductions in operating costs. Perhaps the Temsa might actually last well, though First’s trial is but or six months.
Arriva’s now placed all 20 Avenues in service at its Redcar garage. First will be more cautious, buying one only. Perhaps First’s conservatism is because it’s known to be talking to at least two others about lightweights. This is reported as Volvo/Wrightbus and, significantly, a model of Chinese manufacture. Whatever happens, the interim future now seems to be hybrid *and* lightweight, with modern technology able to provide a product that converts a lightweight weakness into a strength. They also have the advantage of being cheaper but only time will tell if this is short-termism. Cheaper means that First may yet get back on track to ensure it meets DDA targets.
First Arriva, now First. Will Stagecoach join in or develop an ADL lightweight of its own?