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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Wright Streetdeck, What's the Verdict?

Now following up from the extremely popular post back in March which previewed a new design Wright Gemini 3 or Streetdeck leaving the Wright Factory in Northern Ireland, I decided to pop to the seaside to see for myself what all the fuss was about, typically the British weather wasn’t the greatest.

943 (BX15ONV) is seen at the Old Steine, Brighton on the final part of the Route 12 to Churchill Square, this is one of the last streetdeck's in the batch. (Taken 02/05/15 by Kristian Lake)
Wrightbus launched their latest product, the StreetDeck at the Euro Bus Expo in Birmingham in November 2014, the product has leading fuel efficiency and capacity in its class and is a highly reliable product. With its Euro 6 Daimler OM934 5.1 litre 4 cylinder diesel engine, rated at 231hp and a maximum torque of 900 Nm at 1,400rpm. The buses measure 10.469m long, 2.52m wide and 4.395m high with two possible body designs available, you can either take the traditional Gemini 3 design or the new more angular design, the latter of which has been adopted by the production models for Brighton and Hove. A number of other revisions have been included into this new product including improved airflow throughout both salons, reduced solar gain in the upper saloon (basically the upper deck stays cooler when the sun is out) however this is at the detriment of having smaller side windows. With other improvements in areas such as cab door lock design, wireless bell pushes and revised handpole fixings.

927 (BX15ONB) is seen on Churchill Square, Brighton about to depart on the Route 12 to Eastbourne. (Taken on 02/05/15, by Kristian Lake)

Before the main production models where produced, six demonstrators visited a number of companies across the country including Arriva Derby Sapphire, First Manchester and South Yorkshire, Transdev in Harrogate, Brighton and Hove (prior to them receiving 24 production models), as well as two for London with Arriva and Go-Ahead. However only the Arriva Derby model had the new design front, another variable with this design is whether you wish to have a visible stair case. Again looking at the demonstrators, some did and others didn’t, the Brighton production models chose to go with the new front but the non-visible staircase. This characteristic shows how the streetdeck shares a number of similar aspects with the New Bus For London (NBFL).

933 (BX15ONK) is seen on Churchill Square, Brighton while working on the Route 12X Limited Stop to Eastbourne, following behind is another streetdeck on the stopping service. (Taken on 02/05/15, by Kristian Lake)

There is a growing trend in the bus industry at the moment to be moving towards higher  specification buses on par with coaches in some cases, the ever popular Arriva Sapphire/MAX and Stagecoach Gold brands require their buses to be fitted with leather seats, air-con, free wifi, plug sockets etc. This is just one of the ways in which the industry is trying to turn the tide of a general decline in bus usage around the country (excluding London). The streetdecks for Brighton & Hove follow a very similar principle with high-backed seats and leather headrests, audio-visual announcements, free wifi and plug sockets. Externally they have moved away from the traditional Brighton and hove livery and now come in a line green livery with full branding for the flagship coaster route 12 running between Brighton and Eastbourne (Based at the Whitehawk Garage), this also includes the 12A and 12X routes, which combine to form eight buses an hour (Monday to Saturday) between Brighton and Seaford with six continuing to Eastbourne.

The Brighton & Hove Coaster (Route 12) Branding. (Taken on 02/05/15, by Kristian Lake)
Delivery of the streetdecks commenced on 19th March 2015 and at the time of writing only two remained to be delivered hence why there was a few Scania Omnideka's still on the route when I visited. The streetdecks certainly have a place in the Brighton and Hove fleet which must be one of very few fleets in the country to be completely free of ADL/Enviro buses.

922 (BX15OMU) is seen on Churchill Square, Brighton working on the Route 12 to Seaford Library. (Taken on 02/05/15, by Kristian Lake) 
Now as many of you will be aware, I am a huge Enviro 400 MMC fan, but I would definitely say Wrightbus have taken it to the next level with the Streetdeck as it is undoubtedly an improvement on the Gemini models. However I thought the upper deck felt cramped with rather small windows in comparison to an MMC. I also think the cab looks rather small compared to what the MMC offers. But that said the buses rode well, and ironed out some of the smaller bumps well, the buses pulled off smoothly, on the longer runs they do get up to a decent speed, even with a smallish engine. Traffic was quite heavy leaving Churchill Square in Brighton, the bus was able to make the time up along the way.

932 (BX15ONJ) is seen crossing Old Steine, Brighton while working on the Route 12A to Eastbourne via Chyngton. (Taken on 02/05/15 by Kristian Lake)
Brighton is well known for its hills and it just so happens that the Route 12 has a stand on Dyke Road which is at the beginning of a prolonged hill, which the streetdeck crawled up, even without passengers. However on flatter roads they did seem to manage with there smaller engine. Another consideration maybe their choice of gear box which may not help on the hills. This is probably where they are better suited to city roads. The buses are fitted out to provide the best of both worlds for passengers, comfort for the longer distance travellers between Eastbourne and Brighton, obviously competing for customers against the train, but also the shorter distance travellers who maybe jumping between towns along the coast.

939 (BX15ONR) is seen on Old Steine, Brighton while working the final leg of the Route 12 to Churchill Square. (Taken on 02/05/15 by Kristian Lake)
Route One claims that the Streetdeck is 18% more fuel efficient compared to a Euro 5 Enviro 400, It would be interesting to know how this compared to a like for like euro 6 model. As this brings me onto the final question, will it sell in large numbers. I think they are a very good bus and will certainly provide some competition to ADL. There has been a lot of talk about the new design body but personally I think it has been mechanically where the improvements have been made. And can certainly see these buses being popular, for all the fuel saving benefits they offer but can we please keep with the traditional Gemini 3 body.

930 (BX15ONG) is seen crossing Old Steine, Brighton while working on the Route 12X to Eastbourne. (Taken on 02/05/15 by Kristian Lake)


at: Thursday, May 07, 2015 4:46:00 pm said...

It seems the bus industry has a lot to learn about passenger experience, a lot of the top guys are good at putting designs that look like this, but yet fail to realise how much mileage a bus does, its up and down for 10 hours, sometimes more. Especially in London, where the same bus may be used on a night bus allocation as well, that's over a 100 miles for such a small engine. No doubt it's smooth, but as i've seen, mechanically it can be disheartening for passengers, when such a small engine doesn't get used to it's full potential. It seems in the UK they're more for fuel ecconomy than passenger experience, comfortable or not.

at: Friday, June 19, 2015 10:13:00 am said...

I worked building these buses, glad to see some people are enjoying them. I see a lot of people complaint about the smaller upper deck windows though which is a shame. All for weight reduction though.

at: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 7:21:00 pm said...

The buses look good but it's the gutless engine that seems to let it down. Mercedes do an OM430 which is a 6 cylinder unit which would have been a better choice with this gearbox. The Daimler 4 cylinder is more suited in a Streetlite than shifting
a decker (rumoured to have TABLES if Buses mag is correct)

Alexandr Emelianov says:
at: Thursday, August 20, 2015 11:40:00 am said...

Wrightbus Streetdeck 3D model

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