There’d be a certain delicious irony if the recently announced 68-bus £7.6mil Optare order for a “major operator” went to National Express West Midlands. For, there’s talk again of NatEx and Stagecoach buddying up. If the order was indeed NatEx’s, that would mean Stagecoach once more buying Optares in some quantity. Well, sort of.
Speculation à la 2009 in the Grauniad yesterday that NatEx and Stagecoach may join. Or they may notBut the order isn’t likely to be NatEx’s and in all probability it won’t be Stagecoach’s. So, who, then? Optare isn’t giving anything away, preferring to make you guess.
Part of a batch of 10 Visionaires for Arriva, were these East Lancs badged Volvo B9TLsOptare clearly states the order is for a UK “major operator”. It’s a mixed order of single & double decks. To me, this doesn’t smell of First. Perhaps Go Ahead. If I were a betting man, I’d guess Arriva—and more precisely, perhaps some of this going to Arriva London. It may yet include some open tops for Arriva London’s Original Sightseeing Tour. These would be Olympus variants known as Visionaires, or Panaires, as the fully open top bodies are (or used to be) called. Time will tell.
Now that the Olympus Visionaire operates in Dorset, the more I see them the more I like the look at them, in spite (or perhaps because) of their being the last legacy of the East Lancs era. Of the all-Scania OmniCity, ADL400 and Visionaire deckers recently delivered to Wilts & Dorset, it is the last of these that looks the best. And the Scania OmniCities seem to have developed very early squeaks & rattles.
Optare is planning to raise £7.4mil in new shares to fund the relocation of its Leeds factory and to provide some working capital. These are on sale at 2p per share. Yesterday, Optare’s shares are worth 3.25pps at their closing bid price. Surely even either 2p or 3.25p, they can only go in one direction. Especially after a staggering 68-vehicle order.