The vehicles are designed to carry 23 passengers, but have a configurable passenger area for maximum operational flexibility.
Gateshead’s new arrivals are designed for stage fare work, with driver partition, bell pushes, luggage storage, cash tray and destination display. They are also equipped with CCTV systems.
The operator has used the Orion previously but, says transport manager Graham Mulvaney, “both drivers and maintenance staff think the new Orion is an improvement on the earlier models.
“They are more robust, with a better feel for the road and they are a much more pleasant drive... It feels like it was designed as a big bus.”
Gateshead’s Orions are based on the Fiat Ducato chassis, with four-cylinder, 3-litre engines delivering 177bhp at 3,500 rpm.