Thursday, 6 October 2011

Star of the Show

It was the only bus to see, not that there was much else to get excited about. And since it was right by the entrance of Coach & Bus Live, you could hardly miss it.

We now know the replacement Tempo is the Tempo SR, the “secret” that Optare exposed at yesterday’s show. And what a difference the restyling makes. It means that the front of the Tempo now looks less like the back end of a bus. Tempo 1 was very upright. Indeed, SR takes the best of the Versa’s styling cues without Versa’s over-exaggeration. Optare designers (with a little help) are back on form with a front that is almost as good looking as Optare’s previous heavyweight single deck stunner, the Delta. Is it me, or is there something of the ECW bodied Bristol RE about this bus? To think that three years ago we endured the Solo+ & Rapta. Imagine the direction that might’ve taken the Tempo.

The Trent Barton hierarchy were on hand for the handover at Coach & Bus Live (with a little help). I can speak with experience in saying that there’s always a sense of pride when you see one of your own fleet at a show. You get a warm feeling as the industry top brass (with a little help) crawl over, climb aboard, and generally scrutinise the latest product.

This is the more interesting given the 2008 published views at Trent Barton about some earlier Tempos. Trent Barton took the unusual step of slating Optare in one of its passenger newsletters. This followed Tempo delays and poor workmanship.

This particular Tempo SR is destined for Trent Barton’s Rainbow routes. They’ll evidently be rebranded (with a little help) in the i series, e.g. as i4. Indeed, the Nottingham suburban services will in time drop the Rainbow sub-branding altogether and we will shortly see the end of the Rainbow. But it’s been a pot of gold for Rainbow. It may have had its day but Rainbows 1-5 (as was) first brought a privatised and deregulated Trent Barton to everyone’s attention. Back in the early 1990s, the “Rainbow effect” was legendary and it filled many a conference slot. Whether you feel that routes should be individually branded or not, you can’t argue against the Rainbow effect. It’s been an incredible success for Trent Barton. But the rainbow lives on in a series of coloured dots in the Trent Barton name and behind the front axle.

The i base coat is a metallic shade of kingfisher & is not unlike Arriva’s. It suits the vehicle’s design and it complements the areas of black. We’re actually not sure about the Trent Barton logo.

Likewise, within, we’re not sure about the seats. The alternate blue & green leather headrests are good but the chosen moquette on the cantilever squabs & backs is somewhat lustreless. It makes a change not to see leather, though.

Reactions to Tempo SR were nonetheless favourable. Mind you, would you say otherwise in front of Ray Stenning, who was there? Now all Optare needs are some Tempo orders for their new high production facility…

Report and pictures with thanks to Omnibuses’ Northern Correspondent, with additional information by Busing


RC169 said...

"Is it me, or is there something of the ECW bodied Bristol RE about this bus?"

Hmmm...I'm intrigued - where do you see the similarity? To my eye, it looks as if Optare have tried to produce a toned-down version of the Versa front. I know the Versa is controversial, but at least it's different to the majority of its competitors. The Versa's separate destination box also looks much better (as well as making the destination easier to see!), and that might improve the looks of the Tempo 2.

Anonymous said...

Godalmightydamn, that's ugly. The bloated front reminds me of the bastard offspring of a GMC RTS and a Designline Olympus. And to replace a dented headlight surround, you have to replace the whole front. Sorry Ray.

Anonymous said...

Just to make sure you don't allow an assumption to become thought of as a fact, but the overall appearance and basic design was all Ray Stenning's work, and I have it on good authority that he worked very closely with both trentbarton management and with Optare's excellent design team to make sure reality was as close to the original vision as possible, bearing in mind the physical restraints of sticking with the basic Optare structure.

Anonymous said...

ADL E200 anyone?

Shouldn't the route number be on the nearside?

Neil said...

I personally think it looks quite good.

Anonymous said...

There is no evidence to suggest that all former rainbow routes will become 'I' routes, just because this one is. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Rainbow 5 became indigo, close observers will remember, and rainbow 2 became 'the two'.

Once again, conclusions are being drawn based on assumptions. Risky territory that!

will said...

Based purely on design i would have a Tempo SR above an ADL any day.

will said...

I assume the following are all Trent specified;

Like the destination set-up, both in terms of different colours and (if looks like)seperate boxes so the route number/name will always be shown.

Like the fine details, such as etching on the interior partitions

Dislike the interior. Whilst i can see the reason for moving away from the 'coffee shop' interior, is this really a forward step?

Anonymous said...

As some of the anon's have mentioned, some of this story is sloppy reporting based on presumption, not fact. A shame to see the blog resort to this kind of journalism. Hopefully Busing will address this?

Anonymous said...

As an operator, whose whole fleet was once Optare, all I can see and read is this incessant fawning over Optare design, Stenning spin and Trentbarton Huff n puff.

Optare are a busted flush to most small operators. Their after sales was diabolical, parts delivery worse and I will never repeat the four years of hell that I endured with their products.

It is a shame that products with such good potential are damned by the stable they come from.

They are lucky that the politics of the industry big boys keep them from disappearing completely.

I wont hide under anonymous and I know that I am not at all alone in my despair at Optare.

Paul Thompson

Stevie D said...

The original Tempo was butt-ugly, and looked like it had been designed by people working on different projects who weren't allowed to communicate with each other. While this one may be a little more bland and a little less extravagant, I think it's much more pleasing to look at.

That said, I'm not a huge fan of any Optare styling generally, not since the days of the Delta and the Metrorider, and I don't think I've ever seen an East Lancs body that doesn't look unbearably awful, so "bland but quite pleasant" is a huge improvement on their track record!

Busing said...

Thanks for your comments. Here's some feedback:

1. "Hmmm...I'm intrigued - where do you see the similarity?

Not similar to the ECW bodied RELH of your profile, RC169 but in the slope & curve of the windscreen that has a vague RE look about it. A matter of opinion, I guess.

2. "Optare's excellent design team"

Not everyone who commented shares that view!

3. "Shouldn't the route number be on the nearside?"

Yes, it should.

4. "There is no evidence to suggest that all former rainbow routes will become 'I' routes"

At the time of writing, that was my understanding. May change, of course.

5. "Some of this story is sloppy reporting based on presumption, not fact. A shame to see the blog resort to this kind of journalism."

See 4. above. Am genuinely sorry if you feel this way. Yes, I can address this in future, by not publishing anything.

6. "All I can see and read is this incessant fawning over Optare design, Stenning spin and Trent Barton huff n puff."

There's lots more to say on two of these three that perhaps I should not. Do re-read some posts of Trent Barton, though. These are aimed at both sides of the argument.

For now, is Tempo SR more marketable than Tempo?

Anonymous said...

Does the 'SR' stand for anything?

Anonymous said...

SR = Sales Rejuvinator????

Countrybus said...

Busing said: "Yes, I can address this in future, by not publishing anything"

A blog is a forum for exchange of opinions. Some will agree, some won't; some will wander off the subject, others will ride their pet hobby horse.

But it was ever thus, whether online or face-to-face, although online can offer the advantage (disadvantage?) of anonymity . . .

Contributors are reliant on you to start the discussion by putting your point of view. I look forward each morning to your piece, and congratulate you on producing such a wide range of thought provoking comments and topics. Well done, long may it continue!

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's any suggestion that people want you to stop blogging. Quite the opposite. It's your blog and it should reflect your opinions. Of course not everyone will agree all the time and perhaps we commenters need to be a little more careful in ensuring that our responses repect the orignal post. Some of us try!
BTW I have no problem with presumption - as long as it is stated as such as not presented as fact (which tends to happen in some of the comments).

David said...

There's nothing wrong with a bit of speculation and presumption. Whether it's right or wrong doesn't really matter, we're blogging not writing a newspaper.

As for the Tempo SR, it's much better than the old Tempo but I still don't see the point of it. Although I speak as a passenger who thinks the Versa is wonderful- funky design, good buggy and disabled bays and a sensible layout.

Also, whisper it quietly but I was sad that the Rapta was never built- it's much nicer than the hideous Olympus. And compared to the stuff ADL churns out- have you seen the E200, it's revolting on the outside and cheap and nasty on the inside- it's a work of design genius.

In my less-than-expert opinion, it's a real shame that Optare's manufacturing standards aren't as high as their design standards. They look good but they're not reliable and never have been.

Anonymous said...

I liked the old Tempo (I can't believe everyone hates it so much!) and like this one too. The seats are awful though.

And how can you not like the Enviro200's looks?! Come on, everyone loves the smiley face! Even my mum can pick out Enviro200s from other buses, because of the smile!

yorkshireman said...

@David 11:24: "In my less-than-expert opinion, it's a real shame that Optare's manufacturing standards aren't as high as their design standards. They look good but they're not reliable and never have been"

Totally agree - Optare have always pushed the boundaries in terms of styling - if only we had a range of vehicles with Optare's designs and ADL's reliability.

Tempo SR is an improvement - but it's still a Tempo and will be hard to shake off the Excel/Tempo unreliability tag

Anonymous said...

It has seemed to me over the years that Optare have always had a slightly hand to mouth existence which perhaps accounts for their indifferent reputation for build quality. (Think back to various stages of management ownership, as well as NABI and ownership by the same outfit as DAF, the name of which I've forgotten, then the more recent and rather shaky seeming link up with East Lancs).

However, with the stake of Ashok Leyland (which it will not surprise me to see substantially increase over time), one might hope to see greater resource being available to be directed at quality control in manufacture.

Anonymous said...

Glad you don't respond to my complaints Busing! "Oh well, probably best if I don't bother running any buses at all"

Speculation vs fact - the former is fine if presented as such

Anonymous said...

Love all of Optare's current products, this one is great too!