Go North East: 0694 / YJ13HNZ
Go North East's unallocated Optare Solo SR M890/Optare 694 (YJ13 HNZ), which presently retains the corporate livery of its previous owner, is pictured here at Saltmeadows Road Depot, Gateshead, following delivery to Go North East. 22/11/16
Since the withdrawal of Oxfordshire County Council subsidies on 20th July 2016, Thames Travel has been operating the Bicester Town bus services 22 and 23 on a commercial basis.
These services run at a loss of approximately £4,500 per week and therefore this decision was a temporary arrangement, while Thames Travel continued discussions with several local stakeholders to pool existing finances and resources to safeguard the longer term future of the services. The company’s proposal included extended operating hours to better meet the needs of commuters using rail services, offering improved daily links to the new Park & Ride site and providing a frequent service between the town centre, two rail stations and Bicester Village.
Unfortunately, while some stakeholders were supportive of the company’s proposals and were prepared to provide some funding for the services, others chose to pursue their own commercial interests and therefore services 22 and 23 were withdrawn from the end of service on Saturday 3rd September 2016.
The Optare Solos allocated to these services are now hence surplus to requirements at Thames Travel, and have hence been acquired by Go North East, to allow for the withdrawal of further Transbus Mini Pointer Darts from the fleet. This vehicle was new to, and previously with, Thames Travel in June 2013 as fleet number 719.
Unlike the older Optare Solos, new in 2010, also acquired from Thames Travel, these vehicles were build to standard Go-Ahead specification. As such, the vehicles already have Hanover destination displays fitted, and no internal modifications are required.