Earnside’s anniversary Irizar Integral is reliable, versatile and stylish

Earnside’s anniversary Irizar Integral is reliable, versatile and stylish

Perthshire’s Earnside Coaches has celebrated 50 years of operation from its Glenfarg base by taking delivery of an Irizar i6S Integral coach: one of a special limited edition built by the Spanish manufacturer to celebrate its 130th anniversary.

The coach joins a 10-strong fleet, which operates on a range of tasks from school contracts to Continental tours.

Director Gary Rutherford said: “Earnside Coaches was started by my late grandfather, who ran a couple of buses as an adjunct to a car garage in the nearby village of Bridge of Earn.

“But we moved to our current site 50 years ago, and my father David built the company up to what it is now, operating a modern fleet on work ranging from school contracts to Continental tours.”

The 12.9-mtre i6S 130 Special Edition has 57 i6 seats, and a centre toilet, making it ideal for the wide range of work covered by Earnside Coaches.

It features DAF’s economical 408 hp MX-11 300 engine driving through a ZF EcoLife automatic transmission.

Passenger comforts include a drinks machine, seat-back tables, USB sockets, and a Bosch Smart Series audio system and an Actia DVD player with twin monitors.

Safety features include AEBS, LDWS and ACC systems, and the driver and courier’s seats are finished in leather.

Tinted windows compliment the operator’s livery.

“This coach is our third Irizar integral, and our first i6S,” Gary says.

“We took our first Irizar Integral, an i6, in 2014, and it proved to be very reliable: we put our second on the road last year and there have been no dramas with it since. We like the DAF/ZF driveline. The i6S is more modern-looking and has a few more bells and whistles.

“The style of the vehicle means that it is very popular with drivers and passengers. It is fortunate that we can put vehicles of this quality onto our local school contracts without fear of damage. We are also very confident in sending our Irizars abroad, as there is good backup for Irizar, and DAF and ZF, should it be needed.

“We do most of the work on our fleet ourselves, although the advice and backup from Irizar and DAF is second-to-none should we require it. An Irizar engineer has already visited us to explain the new features of the I6S. But in the six years we’ve been running Irizar Integrals, they have never needed much more than routine servicing., which is important to us with a relatively small and well-utilised fleet.”

The coach will probably remain on the fleet for five years, with European operations forming the majority of its mileage for the first three or four years.

“We are now up to 80 per cent Euro VI across our fleet. The low-emissions regulations in London and Paris are already impacting on us, and we anticipate most Scottish cities going down the same route in the foreseeable future. We don’t know what else may be around the corner, but my guess is that accessibility will be the next issue,” he cautions.