Swanbrook gets i4 for express service
UPDATE: This vehicle has been road tested by RouteONE magazine’s Tim Deakin. Find out how it fared – CLICK HERE
Cheltenham-based Swanbrook Coaches gave a ringing endorsement to its new wheelchair-accessible i4, used on the company’s timetabled interurban service.
The Integral, DAF-engined coach was chosen for its build quality, passenger capacity and good looks, said Managing Director Keith Thomas: “In fact, it ticked all the boxes including value for money,” he said.
The wheelchair-accessible coach to DDA specification – a legal requirement for registered services – has powered front and centre doors, air conditioning, 57 seats with iLeather headrests and is equipped with a reversing camera and high-quality Bosch audio system, so it’s not short on specification: “But we didn’t need a high-line touring coach,” said Keith.
The wheelchair lift – built into the nearside centre – is a ‘first’ for Irizar UK. Although it has supplied an i6 tourer with a wheelchair lift, this is the first i4 integral, and the Swanbrook vehicle is believed to be the first i4 the Worksop-based company has supplied for a scheduled service.
“We’ve now had the i4 for three weeks and it’s been working its socks off. The service between Cheltenham and Oxford runs three times daily and four times on Saturdays, with a 90-minute journey time, so it’s quite intense. Feedback from our drivers and passengers is that they like it.”
Keith said that, although most of the fleet is Volvo, DAF came with a great reputation: “We’ve run DAF before and you know what you’re getting. It’s a bit too early to have a proper feel for fuel economy but indications are good so far. And Irizar UK has dealt very well with the inquiry, order and delivery.”
Swanbrook has been running the 853 Cheltenham-Oxford service for 30 years. It was voted by Daily Telegraph as being among the Top Twenty scenic bus routes in the country. Swanbrook Coaches has been gradually moving from coach into bus work in the last few years, and now only six of its fleet of 24 vehicles are coaches, the remaining vehicles being low-floor single-decks and double-deck buses.
“We are particularly interested to see how Swanbrook’s accessible i4 performs,” said Steve O’Neill, Commercial Director at Irizar UK and a former operator of scheduled coach services. “We believe it fits the bill perfectly, with high passenger capacity, low running costs and meeting DDA requirements with a very practical wheelchair lift.”