22 January 2024

New Solos for Stagecoach Devon?

As many visitors to this site have commented over the last year, investment in brand new buses has all but dried up. Stagecoach as not had any new buses since 2018 and the ones that were due last year were diverted up North.

However, it seems that there are some brand new diesel buses due very shortly.

I actually came across this when checking The Devon Bus web site and found the notes from the BUS (Bus Users and Stakeholders) Forum, 12th October 2023

The document itself is well worth a read as it summarizes future plans in Devon, however the section I noticed was part of a Q&A section as answered by Peter Knight, Stagecoach MD.

Q: Are our buses all old ones from elsewhere in the country. I went on the bus to Okehampton and it broke down
one stop short of my destination. The driver said it had happened before. I am getting reports from other
councillors that buses have broken down and/or been cancelled leaving people stranded.
A: (Stagecoach) the vast majority (90%) of vehicle started their life in the SW. You can spot local registrations starting
with a ‘W’. Regrading reliability and breakdowns, they are machines and failures do happen despite 28 day
inspections. The performance of vehicles in Devon are within the top 5 or 6 in the Stagecoach group. In rural areas it
does take longer to get to a vehicle when an incident happens which causes disruption to passengers. Stagecoach
are committed to investing in the fleet going forwards

Q: Stagecoach had to severely cut back on capital investment in vehicles during Covid. Has this improved?
A: Stagecoach is no longer listed on the London Stock Exchange and is now supported by private investment. There
are 10 new vehicles coming to the South West in 2024; there are plans to invest £1.5m in the fleet.

I do like the answer to Q1 although I make it less than 90% (nearer 75-80% which is still pretty good compared with other operators in the area – Citybus is nearer 65%) but I do hope people wont be looking out for all of these new local buses by looking for those starting with a W. He is right in that local area registrations do start with W but all Stagecoach new buses are centrally registered and have been for many years! Go Ahead being unusual in that it still generally tries to register buses locally.

Having found this document and made notes to post it this week, this evening I see that there is another new letter published on the Devon Bus site

BUS (Bus Users and Stakeholders) Forum, 11th January, 2024

The Q&A section

Q: Any news on the new vehicles coming in the Spring? Is it dependent on winning the ZEBRA 2 bid?
A: 10 new diesel vehicles are still coming to Devon very shortly.
Q: Will new vehicles have audio announcements?
A: Yes, they will be equipped with next stop information and a hearing loop. This is a government requirement for
any new passenger service vehicles which are purchased

So it does appear that these new buses are due pretty soon. Its not mentioned what these buses will be or where in Devon they are heading. Stagecoach are placing a large batch of Enviro 400s at the moment but of course the Devon allocation was reassigned so its probably not them. More likely they will be Optare Solos as Stagecoach have placed a group order for 60 this year. The SC Devon fleet does still have a few elderly Solos from back in 2004.


Stagecoach 47089 WA04TXD

47089 seen back in 2019 but I believe still part of the fleet, but presumably for not much longer.

Like I said its well worth following the links to the two news letters and having a good read.

PT Library copies:


  1. They are 48139-48 for Torquay depot, they form part of an order for 60 Solos nationwide

  2. So stagecoach are planning to order more mmc 400 then am I right in reading

  3. An unverified source on new orders suggests 10 are on order for torquay with fleetnumbers reserved as 48139-48. But these are the only buses currently for ssw as the list has most new vehicles heading for the bee network
    On another note n matford 36034 has appeared and also seen a pic of 27602 in plymouth i know stagecoach have continued to expand into cornwall with another 2 school runs to add to there portfolio

  4. So are stagecoach planning to order more mmc 400 then

    1. I expect Stagecoach (and Go-Ahead) will be awaiting the results of the ZEBRA2 bids before committing to ordering any more new vehicles.

    2. With current passenger numbers low, councils cutting back funding etc most new buses are going to Manchester, Liverpool etc where they can earn their keep. Allowing nearly news to be transferred.

    3. 80 e400mmc in this years order(+2 carried over from current order) i make it around 220/675 veichles are diesel and 49% of the 675 are for manchester ops

  5. Stagecoach desperately needs some newer Solos given their current elderly age & supported contract age limit requirements


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