Thursday, 19 February 2015

STREETDECK - IS THE JURY OUT?

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We all have differing views and thank goodness otherwise it would be a rather boring world. And perhaps none moreso than in the design of bus bodies. Over the years there have been a variety of designs that have caught the eye and the imagination, but without going into great detail I leave them to the reader to decide. Likewise there have been others that have caught the eye for a different reason, and perhaps not lived up to expectations.

Of course maybe one has to consider practicality over design and what may appear from the outside to be uneasy on the eye to one person, may well be quite different to another. Anyway does it really matter to Joe Public what a bus looks like, just as long as it turns up on time and takes him or her where they wish to go in comfort.

One of the latest offerings on the double-deck market is the Wrightbus Streetdeck, which made its debut at the Bus & Coach Show at the Birmingham NEC back in November 2014. The version on the stand was in Arriva Sapphire livery for operation in Derby, which entered service in January 2015. 

A member of the Focus Transport team attended the event and managed to capture the bus as shown below.




The most noticeable features are the front and rear aspects and the visually exposed staircase on the offside. 

The bus made its first revenue-earning duties with Arriva in Derby during January 2015 and is shown here on departure from the bus station. It is assigned to route 38 (Derby to Sinfin & Stenson Fields), and works alongside a fleet of Alexander Dennis E40D Enviro400s.


The other aspects of the bus were captured through the lens during February as shown below.




 
Apart from the front another obvious feature is the open staircase on the offside of the bus. This image illustrates how this could cause concern in some quarters as to the subject of modesty.


Operation of the route 38 is mainly the new ADL E40D double-deckers, although the odd Wrightbus Gemini Eclipse bodied Volvo has made the odd appearance.



There are believed to be a total of five pre-production models built with some that feature the Wrightbus Gemini 3 frontal design. First up the Arriva version at Derby, two with First Group, one in Sheffield the other in Manchester. Other Streetdecks are with Go-Ahead and in the Arriva London fleet.

The Streetdeck is powered by a Euro6 Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) engine and replaces the Gemini 2DL integral with a DB300 chassis module previously produced by VDL Bus in the Netherlands for Wrightbus. Many parts of the chassis are derived from the New Routemaster (New Bus for London), the vehicle as a whole constructed in Antrim. It is powered by a 5.1litre 4-cylinder engine with a Voith B854.6 transmission.

The optional front and indeed the optional exposed staircase can be compared in the following images on buses with the original Eclipse Gemini 3 front end option.


 
The upper shows 35101 in the First South Yorkshire fleet at Sheffield with the exposed staircase, whilst 35102 in the Manchester fleet illustrates the enclosed staircase. This may well be the option chosen by the larger fleets when considering the use of 'T'--shaped advertising.



The nearside aspect of the Sheffield bus is shown here and appears to be currently assigned to operating the 51 (Charnock - Lodge Moor) route.

Two images of the rear aspects of the Sheffield bus are shown below.




The Streetdeck appears to be allocated to route 51 (Charnock - Lodge Moor),  and also operates alongside new ADL E40D Enviro400s.

We leave the readership to make up its own mind as to which version of the Streetdeck's outward appearance they prefer. 

And finally......................


The bus here was seen on the 18th February at the Sholver terminus of route 83 in Greater Manchester. Operated by First Manchester this 63-plate vehicle although bearing similar body design to the Eclipse Gemini 3 with First South Yorkshire, the mechanics beneath it are Volvo B5TL. Confused?