Transport Minister, Mr Martin Cullen TD, has announced an €11.5 million contract to supply 48 single-deck buses to Bus Éireann - as well as confirming the supply of a prototype Hybrid Electric Double-Deck bus for operational evaluation with Dublin Bus.
The announcement was made during a visit by the Transport Minister to the Wright Group's production facility in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, as part of a delegation that included the Right Honourable Dr Ian Paisley, MP for North Antrim and future first Minister and Mr Ian Paisley Junior, MLA. The Deputy Mayor of Ballymena, Councillor Maurice Mills was also in attendance.
Also visiting the Galgorm facility with Minister Cullen during his two-hour visit were Mr Tim Hayes, Chief Executive of Bus Éireann, Mr Joe Meagher, Chief Executive of Dublin Bus and Mr David Begg, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
The order for 48 Wrightbus Eclipse Urban Single Deck buses, to be built on Volvo B7RLE chassis, will be the first vehicles of their type to be supplied to the state-owned public transport operator by the Wright Group. The 12m single decks, which can accommodate 45 seated passengers with 38 standees, will be manufactured from the patented Aluminique™ modular structure - a lightweight, yet immensely strong and durable, construction system.
With deliveries set to commence later this year, the new buses will be deployed on routes in major cities in Ireland.
An equally significant announcement was also made by Mr Cullen during his visit, as the Minister also confirmed that - with his support - Dublin Bus has agreed with Wrights to supply a hybrid electric double-deck vehicle - describing it as a move - "to advance the sustainable agenda within Dublin Bus".
The Wrightbus Pulsar Gemini HEV will be the first high-capacity vehicle fitted with hybrid technology to go into operation in Ireland and has a similar specification to the vehicle currently undergoing long-term evaluation in London with TfL. Based on a VDL Bus DB250 glider chassis, it is powered by a Siemens series hybrid drivetrain with lithium ion batteries. It has a 64 seated passenger capacity plus 18 standees.
In addition to environmental benefits, the electric driveline ensures quiet acceleration, significantly reduced noise levels - whilst providing a smooth and comfortable travel experience for passengers.
Making the announcements, the Minister said that both Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann have further orders coming to the market and he wished the Wright Group every success in - "building a good commercial relationship with both companies and in the bidding process".