Vehicle manufacturers have been putting their latest products through First Bus’ comprehensive testing programme at Millbrook Proving Ground. Each year First Bus spends most of August rigorously testing the very latest developments in bus technology in its pursuit of operating ever cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicles across the UK.
The results of the competition play a major part in the First Bus vehicle procurement strategy – in this financial year First Bus is investing £70m in 305 new vehicles and since 2012 the company has invested around £300m in almost 1600 new buses.
Using a testing procedure developed by First Bus and Millbrook’s Engineers, vehicles are put thought their paces on a course that is meticulously designed to reflect a variety of rural, urban and interurban bus routes. The buses are fitted with sophisticated equipment to monitor many aspects of performance. They undergo maximum speed and acceleration tests and are subjected to extreme gradients up to 25% to ensure they meet some of the more demanding requirements of real world operations.
To replicate the driving pattern of a bus on an average working day, vehicles follow a route featuring hills, junctions, roundabouts and numerous bus stops. The buses travel at a range of pre-defined speeds and spend a proportion of the test idling to simulate passengers boarding at bus stops, just as it typically would while in service. Vehicles are ballasted to replicate the passengers’ weight on the vehicle.
Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First Bus, said: “In 2012 we laid down the gauntlet to bus manufacturers to drive innovation and deliver vehicles that were cleaner and more fuel efficient. As well as making the communities we serve cleaner and greener for the future, we’re seeing great fuel efficiency benefits which are helping us ensure that bus travel remains good value for money for our customers.”
Alex Burns, CEO of Millbrook Group said: “The work that Millbrook undertakes with First Bus is very valuable. The testing and like for like comparisons between vehicles are helping to drive the development of greener public transport, which has real benefits for the environment and creates cost–savings that ultimately benefit consumers. Millbrook is uniquely able to provide the testing environment and expertise required by First Bus.”
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