Optare has celebrated the delivery of the first batch of 114 Metrocity buses  for Wellington at a special ceremony at the British High Commission in the country’s capital.

Acting British High Commissioner, Helen Smith cut the ribbon on the first bus of Optare’s biggest ever New Zealand export order, worth NZ$40m (£21m).

The new Metrocity buses are being supplied to Tranzit Group, one of New Zealand’s largest public transport operators.  The first 12 of the buses, all manufactured in the UK, will begin operation around Greater Wellington Regional Council routes in Wellington and the surrounding region in the next few weeks.

The Metrocity buses for Tranzit feature Euro 6 compliant engines, an innovative monocoque design, have a passenger capacity of up to 55 and will be the lightest with this capacity to operate in New Zealand.

Graham Belgum, President of Optare, who flew to Wellington for the handover said, “This is a significant step for Optare in our international export strategy and signals the start of the exciting growth opportunities available to us in New Zealand.  Furthermore, it recognises our continued innovation in lightweight design, delivering significant annual savings in fuel consumption and operating costs.”

Paul Snelgrove, Managing Director of Tranzit Group, said, “The Metrocity buses were purpose-built to meet the demands of the Wellington region’s commuter network.

“They’re top-of-the-line and exactly what we need to give the region’s commuters the very best service possible. As well as being Euro 6 certified, which is the highest possible and newest global emissions standard, the Metrociity buses weigh 900kg less than comparable vehicles, use much less fuel and can carry more passengers.

“We’ve ordered a combination of 10.1m and 10.8m Metrocity buses, which means we’ll have the right buses available to best service the mix of the city, suburban and semi-rural routes we’ll be operating. The shorter buses are much easier to manoeuvre and are ideal for tight, twisty routes,” said Snelgrove.

Chris Laidlaw, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council said: “At Greater Wellington we’re on our way to a more integrated public transport network so we can take more people to more places, more often. An important part of our strategy is reducing the emissions from our fleet. Metlink is doing that through a major renewal programme that will mean 80% of the buses on the region’s roads are new vehicles, providing a 68% reduction in harmful emissions.”

Jason Pecotic, General Manager of Bus Corp Oceania, who are Optare’s dealer and partners in New Zealand, said, “We are delighted to be providing warranty and full aftermarket support for the vehicles and are working closely with Optare to expand the product reach to operators in New Zealand and Australia.

Bus Corp Oceania is a strong and well-resourced distributor and is very much focused on ensuring that the Optare message is heard across the region. This is the message of an advanced monocoque design which delivers integrity and strength but minimises weight resulting in better fuel consumption and lower emissions.  We are already seeing people sit up and take notice of Optare and this new fleet of Optare buses for Tranzit is just the beginning of resurgence of the brand down under.”

Optare is one of the UK’s leading bus manufacturers and is a subsidiary of Indian-based Ashok Leyland,