To save you reading the full post, the conclusion is: “rubbish”, quite literally too.
Recently, First Manchester made these buses their singledeckers of choice. Either a rival to the Enviro400′s little brother the Enviro200 or a rival to Volvo’s mini version of the B9TL, the B7RL. Pioneer Depot Team have recently received a number of these buses – on hire -to test out. They’re reasonable, but I’m not a fan.
With exception of the rather bulging front, the front of the vehicle is similar to the Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 design. The rest of the vehicle is of a ‘normal’ singledecker design – think of the B7RLE – until we get to the back of the bus, which again comes out slightly but it is curved from side-to-side. The bus is a little longer than the B9TL, coming in at 11.5m. The variant is the door-forward, so unlike buses like the Optare Solo’s, the doors are ahead of the wheels, which is pretty standard.
The pretruding front reminds me of the Optare Solo’s ‘sticky-outy’ curved front screen – but not as much as a Solo. Very quickly, I got used to it. I think the body suits and fits nicely within the current ‘trend’ of bus styles. Top marks! One little nag though, the destination blind at the back is off centre and placed next to a very large First logo.
Interior & Seats
The vehicle contains a very, very, very clinical look. The walls are of a smooth, wood-like, pale purple variety, with a high ceiling containg panels similar to the B7/9. On the side of the ceilings are panels that curve down to the top of the windows. The design is very minimalistic, with purple steel bars everywhere – where the tops don’t match up, which, being me, is very annoying! One curves elegantly, others just curve right at the top, and some bend a little about a 30cm from the top.
The seats are the ones contained in the Enviro400s. Their grey, leather covers are a sad departure for First from the nice dark purple moquette, which has been a staple of all off First’s busses since I can remember. The one advantage of this is, I guess, is for the cleaners. And the high backs, I imagine, are good for a little nap, but I prefer the seats of a B9. The seats aren’t overly comfortable, I just about managed a 1hour journey. Another 15 minutes and I would’ve stood up. The backs aren’t overly helpful to your posture, and I felt what was like a bar going across the seat just below the back of my ribcage, slightly unpleasant. However, the leg room is a bonus, but only adds to the vehicles’ very bare, minimalistic, clinical look. Only able to carry around 45 passengers, as this is the StreetLight ‘Max’ version.
The extra legroom is welcome, the seats aren’t that great. The clinical look is very depressing and hard on the eye. The interior feels very purple-y, very plastic-y, very shiny, and crap-y. An improvement would be the less use of bright purple (bordering on pink) metal handlebars, less purple, and a bit of a designed floor cover (like on the B9s). The height of the vehicle only adds to the horrible look.
Not. A. Fan.
I don’t know much about engines, but I assume the loud knocking-noise that I heard when travelling at slow speeds was something to do with it. The engine is very loud, very vigorous and this is audible inside. The gear changes seem pretty normal. This bus has the 4-cylinder Cummins engine.
Not being mechanically (for buses, anyway) minded, I can’t really comment on the powerplant. It handled the 350 route – possibly the most tetorous for a bus – with ease. Tight turns in Delph on Lodge Lane – not a problem. Up Oldham Road – not a problem. Down Huddersfield Road – not a problem. Well handled. I do love the sound of the old Dennis Dart SLF Plaxton Pointer, a very lovely engine noise and gearbox. So, to be fair, I gave it an un-biassed ’5′.
Loving the exterior, however the inside is very clinical and I don’t like it. If this had insides similar to the B7s or B9s then I’d be a fan. However, until then, the loud banging noise and the interior put me off it. Utter rubbish.
Overall Rating: 17/30
I wouldn’t mind them ordering more, but it’ll just make me dislike bus journeys ever more. I love riding the B9s, but not the StreetLites. The suspension is very ‘on-edge’, constantly and noticeably adjusting each wheel independently. Going over potholes, waiting on hills, the suspension is constantly being raised/lowered automatically. Just lookout when its going up to Greenfield Station and on to Uppermill. The compressor is also quite loud when it kicks in.
Further Reading: For East of the M60′s review of the Wright StreetLite, click here.