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miniplus June issue 31

IN SERVICE | MELLOR STRATA miniplus.co.uk | June 2017 | 33 It proceeded via Attenborough to Toton, and on arrival all seats were taken. While many passengers were using concessionary passes, a respectable number of fare payers – both adults and children – were carried. Also boarding was one pushchair, which was placed in the offside parking area easily and quickly. The Happy Bus Like the other Sprinter-based buses on the market, one of the Strata’s positives is the degree of interaction that it permits between the driver and users. The driver sits at a comfortable level, and because the cab is well behind the front axle he or she can face passengers in the same manner as on a larger, rear-engined bus. Additionally, the 2.2-litre engine is very quiet at idle, and it does not intrude into conversation. NCC’s Stratas are equipped with the optional cab door, cash tray and ticket machine mounting point, and Mellor can also fit an anti-assault screen. Passengers appreciate the service that the NCC Stratas provide, and drivers know many users by name. While the saloon is a little narrower than that of a purpose-built bus, the deep windows and glazed roof hatch make up for it. Also to be considered are the economics of the Sprinter. Where passenger numbers are modest, its fuel efficiency may make the difference between services operating or not in the current climate of austerity. It could prove to be the tool that enables continued mobility for some people. The operator’s view Andy shares the opinion that the Strata and similar types may prove to be the difference between a route being sustainable or otherwise. “The buses are ideal for the work that we are using them on,” he says. “In the long-term I would like to see the fleet move away from high-floor buses, so we also ordered four Orions from Mellor at the same time as the Stratas. The ability to negotiate housing estates, the accessibility and the excellent fuel consumption all make a case for more.” Drivers like the Strata, although one pointed out that visibility of the door step can be difficult, and there was a trace of damage where this area had made contact with the kerb. He added that care was needed on speed humps to avoid unsettling passengers on the all-steel suspension. What’s the likelihood of seeing more Stratas around the country soon? High, says Mellor Area Sales Manager Stephen Haywood. “We receive a lot of interest, from the large bus groups to community transport organisations,” he explains. “It’s capturing their imagination for bus work, which we expected, and when in service it is proving that it can make a real difference.” 1. The boarding experience is good and the cab and platform areas come together well 2. Large area for pushchair or wheelchair user is often made use of 3. The buses are usually used on routes that connect with Nottingham Express Transit trams 1 2 3 On urban work, fuel returns are in the region of around 19.5mpg, almost double that of the larger buses used previously


miniplus June issue 31
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