All aboard 05 October 2016

With the biennial Euro Bus Expo opening its doors next month at the NEC, Birmingham, Steve Banner takes a look at some of the likely highlights

Ongoing requirements to cut NOx, particulates and CO2 emissions – particularly in urban and city environments – will, unsurprisingly, be among key themes at Euro Bus Expo 2016 (1—3 November, Hall 5, NEC, Birmingham). More than 9,500 visitors are expected at the free-to-attend event, which is supported by CPT (Confederation of Passenger Transport) and is expected to host almost 300 exhibitors.

Rising interest in zero-emission electric buses will play to the strengths of Chinese manufacturer BYD. It will be displaying a battery-powered 10.2m 81-passenger double-decker in service with London’s Metroline. This all-electric bus has a claimed range of 190 miles between recharges.

A BYD/ADL electric single-decker also looks set to be present, having been displayed at the CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle last month, at Millbrook in Bedfordshire. This vehicle was built by BYD in its entirety. However, ADL will in future be bodying the BYD chassis at its Falkirk plant, as part of its partnership with the Chinese manufacturer, and marketing it as the Enviro200EV 10.8m.

Availability is scheduled during the first half of next year. Incidentally, a 12m BYD/ADL Enviro200EV is already on sale. No fewer than 51 of these are going into service with Go-Ahead for use in London. Go to ADL's stand. Battery power is not the only route to cutting emissions though, and ADL will also be showing a gas-powered double-decker under the Enviro400CNG banner. And on the coach side, expect to see a new look for the distinctively-styled Plaxton Elite.

Elsewhere, Optare will also be banging the battery drum and looks likely to bring the electric Solo to Birmingham. The firm has managed to extend the single-decker's range between recharges from 95 to a claimed 130 miles. Meanwhile, don’t be surprised to see either a 10.5m or 11.1m Optare Metrodecker double-decker at the show, with Euro 6 diesel power courtesy of Mercedes. The former is a two-passenger-door model built to TfL (Transport for London) requirements, while the latter is built to provincial specifications and comes with a single passenger door.

Electric buses look set to be centre stage – or close to it – on the Wrightbus stand. It has the StreetLite EV and the StreetAir EV single-deckers available as part of its Electrocity line-up. Available as a 13-tonner, the former was first shown at Euro Bus Expo in 2012 and has since undergone two driveline upgrades. It is produced in lengths from 8.8m to 9.5m in wheel-forward format. Its stablemate is an 18-tonner based on the current StreetDeck chassis, and will be used as a platform for both single- and double-deckers at 10.6m.

Moving on to other fuels, Scania will be exhibiting a double-decker that runs on biogas. Details are limited as we go to press, but the chassis is the Swedish manufacturer's own, while the body is an ADL Enviro400. Elsewhere, Volvo and MAN will also be at the show, as will a variety of other bus and coach heavyweights, including EvoBus, Irizar, VDL, Van Hool and Yutong.

Businesses offering products and services will also be vying for attention – including Eberspacher. Although probably best known for its heating equipment, the firm’s staff will be equally happy to discuss its Sutrak bus and coach air-conditioning and climate control systems. In fact, Sutrak has been part of the Eberspacher group since 2010.

Dilax Systems will be showcasing its automatic passenger counting and seat occupancy management packages. The first allows operators to keep an eye on overcrowding, and offers customers the option of catching the next bus. The other enables passengers to see if there is room on the top deck before climbing the stairs.

What about operational safety? Using on-board video to capture the circumstances under which a driver had to brake hard or swerve violently could help to reduce numbers of accidents – particularly if it combined with incident analysis and driver coaching. Such a programme is offered by Lytx, which says it can cut collision-related costs by up to 80%. Current users of the Lytx DriveCam scheme include Falcon Coaches.

This operator reports it is seeing lower insurance premiums, as well as reduced fuel and maintenance costs. It also credits the system with encouraging a higher standard of driving. Falcon also makes the point that video can help protect operators against false claims – exonerating drivers who have done everything right.

Still on the safety theme, Bowmonk Tapley will be launching its T5 event data recorder. With a built-in accelerometer and connection to the vehicle's CAN bus, it can record a wealth of on-board data that is then uploaded to the cloud for fleet managers to view.

Working along similar lines, TyrePal will be demonstrating TeleTPMS. This allows bus and coach fleet managers to remotely check tyre pressures on all their vehicles. In-cab monitors can be fitted, designed to alert drivers immediately if there is a serious problem. Run tyres at the wrong pressure and they can suddenly fail, impacting safety. Even if that does not happen fuel economy will be affected and tyre life shortened.

Finally, Rescroft is supporting the show's Accessibility Zone, which will showcase passenger lifts, ramps, training, safety equipment and suitably-equipped vehicles.

Master class theatre

Nottingham City Transport’s Mark Fowles, Trentbarton’s Jeff Counsell and Reading Buses CEO Martijn Gilbert will be among headline speakers in the Euro Bus Expo Master Class Theatre, sponsored by SmartDrive Systems. As in previous years, leading industrialists from the Confederation of Passenger Transport – the UK’s operator trade body – will also be hosting presentations.

Mark Fowles, head of Nottingham City Transport since 2001, will be joined by John Birtwistle, CPT president and head of policy at FirstGroup UK's Bus Division, to discuss ‘Making partnerships work’ on the opening day. NCT and Reading Buses are award-winning examples of how partnerships between operators and local authorities can provide high quality bus services.

Jeff Counsell, managing director of East Midlands-based Trentbarton, will be at the show on day two, discussing how ‘Marketing your business effectively’ can reap long-term rewards.

And Martijn Gilbert, CEO of Reading Buses (2 November) will be speaking on ‘Attracting the best talent’. Gilbert, who joined Reading in 2014, will be sharing some of the firm’s initiatives aimed at engaging, retaining and developing staff – from the introduction of improvement champions to more casual uniforms.

“The seminars at the Master Class Theatre offer the ideal way to keep in touch with the industry and find out more about the latest legislation, business developments and innovations happening right now,” states event director Helen Conway.

“It’s the best opportunity of the year to hear first-hand what other operators are doing – what works and what doesn’t, what can work and what can’t,” she adds.

Euro Bus Expo 2016 will be open from 9.30am to 5.00pm on Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 November, and from 9.30am to 4.00pm on Thursday 3 November. For further information, visit

Steve Banner

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Related Companies
Alexander Dennis Ltd
Bowmonk Ltd
BYD Europe
Eberspacher UK Ltd
EvoBus (UK) Ltd
Irizar UK Ltd
Lytx Europe Ltd
MAN Truck & Bus UK Ltd
Optare plc
Rescroft Ltd
Scania (Great Britain) Ltd
The Wright Group Ltd
TyrePal Ltd
Van Hool NV
VDL Bus & Coach BV
Yutong Bus Company

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