ABERDEEN-based transport giant FirstGroup today announced a massive £70 million order for 425 new fuel efficient vehicles for its bus division in the UK.
First’s order, which includes six electric vehicles, represents the biggest ever investment in new buses in the UK, for services outside London, and brings the company’s total investment in 2,000 new vehicles to around £310million over four years.
All but six of First’s new buses will be manufactured in the UK with Ballymena based Wrightbus winning the largest contract. First has placed an order for 301 Wrightbus vehicles including 274 of its “StreetLite Micro Hybrid” buses, one of the most fuel efficient buses on the market.
A spokesman for the international transport group said: “First and Wrightbus have worked in partnership throughout 2013 to test, trial and develop the Micro Hybrid buses. They are diesel vehicles which incorporate an innovative new on board hybrid system improving fuel efficiency by around ten per cent. FirstGroup will be the first company to operate these new buses.”
Giles Fearnley, managing director of First UK Bus, said: “This is the biggest order on record for services entirely outside London. We operate in 40 of the UK’s largest towns and cities and our investment
will help support the communities we serve.
“This order is great news for our customers and underlines our commitment to growing our business and encouraging more people to use our services and use them more often.”
He continued: “Our groundbreaking partnership with Wrightbus will deliver unsurpassed levels of fuel efficiency, which, until recently few within in the bus industry would have believed possible. In 2013 we laid down the gauntlet to bus manufacturers to work with us to minimise fuel consumption.
“Wrightbus embraced that challenge and together we’ve developed its StreetLite Micro Hybrid product. I am immensely proud of our collective achievements and we’re very much looking forward to being the first operator to take delivery of these revolutionary new vehicles.”
As part of the new order Falkirk based ADL has secured a contract for 97 new vehicles including 60 double-deckers. Leeds company Optare will manufacture 21, including six electric vehicles, and Volvo Group UK will build six coaches.