Having set new standards for the quality of bus travel in 2003, with Blazefield’s launch of leather-seated high-quality double-deckers on route 36, the vehicles are entering a second lease of life
after an extensive rebuild costing £85,000 each carried out by Bus and Coach World of Blackburn.
Unveiled in October 2003 to a surprised industry at Coach&Bus Live, leather seating, plus a striking red, black and silver livery, turned the 13 new Wrightbus Gemini/Volvo B7TL into head-turning vehicles. Christened ‘twin-decks’, with a seating capacity of 62, the Ripon-Harrogate-Leeds service was upgraded from conventional single-deck Wright-bodied Volvo B10Bs.
At the time the premium for the buses, delivered in 2003 and 2004, was £40,000, and Blazefield predicted that it would be recouped within five years.
Although others in the industry wondered if vandalism would take its toll on the inside, and bus washes damage the exterior vinyls, the doubterswere soon proved wrong, and leather seating with striking vinyl-based liveries are now commomplace. Now, the Transdev Blazefield buses have been fitted with new front and rears from the latest Gemini design, a new back axle, cooling pack, gearboxes and Euro 5 Volvo engines.
Inside is a heavy clean of all plastic parts, along with new Esteban seats. Downstairs, the arrangement has been changed with inward-facing seats over the rear wheel arches. Upstairs, the layout has been reduced to 33 seats in 2+1 layout while spacers between the seat pairs, and side walls allow a more generous width. The buses have new ceiling panels and internal graphics. The total capacity is now 61, with a more generous legroom, and two shades of red leather seating, rather than black previously used. Finished in a revised livery, now branded ‘City Connect 36’ by Ray Stenning’s Best Impressions despite having covered around 750,000 miles each, the buses look like new and the example revealed at the ALBUM conference thanks to show ‘plates, initially fooled visitors into thinking they were looking at a new bus.
Article by Mel Holley in Route-One 26/05/11.