Testing BorderBus' Enviro200 demonstrator and new Optare Solo SR in Norwich

BorderBus are trialling this ZF-geabox Enviro200 on the 146
Today I had some last minute errands to run in Norwich, which I completed between keeping an eye out for BorderBus' latest demo - which at first glance may seem rather strange.

SN15LLA is an Alexander Dennis Enviro200, just like BorderBus' six others. The difference, and the need to evaluate it, is the semi-automatic style ZF AS-Tronic Lite gearbox. Unlike the Alison or Voith equipped Enviro200s, the gears on the BorderBus demonstrator can be manipulated by the driver through the use of a simple up or down arrow button in the cab if they feel a gear change is needed when the automatic transition does not - other than this, it's very much down to the bus itself to make the decision. 

I travelled on the bus from Norwich to Beccles, and am both pleased and rather critical of its performance from a passengers point of view. The route of the 146 sees it potentially stop at three sets of traffic lights which will require a quick pull off onto a busy 'A' road. We had to stop at one set, and the pull off was rather jolty, with the bus coming to a somewhat sudden halt, almost, before clonking into the next gear - I'm sure you can imagine how much the passengers is affected by this. It was made up with how smooth the journey was once it got into top gear - not a rattle or a shudder, a squeak or a shake. In terms of comfort, I too was impressed, the interior is bright and airy, the seats are very comfortable and the only rattles come about from the areas you would expect on the bumpier parts of the routes. Despite it's single flaw of joltiness, SN15LLA is certainly one of the best Enviro200s I have been on to date.

Brand new 48021 on layover at Ipswich Road this afternoon
So after a thoughtful journey to Beccles, an unexpected catch up with contributor Cameron Robinson and a return on the X2, my next port of call was awaiting me a little further out of the City Centre...

On my journey into Norwich this morning, I caught sight of Stagecoach Norfolk 48021 YJ15AAZ heading outbound towards Fakenham on the X29. With many thanks the Twitter team, I was able to grab a photograph of it later in the day on layover at Ipswich Road. I have to admit, the new Optare Solo SRs do look really smart, both on the inside and the out. I look forward to travelling on one before they are no longer deemed new!
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About Kieran Smith

Norwich Buses Blog was founded in December 2013 by Sam Larke after he left another popular blog, Norwich Bus Page. Since it's launch, the site has grown dramatically, especially whilst written solely by Kieran Smith during 2015. The blog is now in it's third year and we look forward to more success and growth in the future. If you think you'd make a good writer for Norwich Buses Blog, please do get in touch via email: samuel.larke@gmail.com
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