CLEAN and green transport machines are now on the road linking up Wearside’s key attractions and services.
Sunderland’s first hybrid buses pulled off for the first time yesterday and are now in use on the new Sunderland Connect 700 service.
The Optare Solo SR hybrid vehicles hook up the city centre, university centres and some of Sunderland’s most important leisure and visitor sites.
The service was launched last month with conventional vehicles and is already attracting thousands of passengers per week.
It is now served by the green buses intended to run on the route.
Bernard Garner, director general of transport executive Nexus, said: “Sunderland Connect has proved popular from the word go and is already well-established as the best way to get across and around the city centre.
“With the launch of new hybrid vehicles passengers can also be reassured they are making a greener journey, as well as a quick and convenient one.”
Yesterday, Sunderland’s first greener hybrid-engine buses took to the city’s streets on the new Sunderland Connect route 700.
Nexus won Government cash to help fund the service, and Sunderland City Council and Sunderland University are working in partnership with the organisation.
University vice-chancellor Peter Fidler said: “We are delighted to be part of this new service which has already proved hugely popular with our students and staff since its launch last month.
“The feedback so far has been incredibly positive with passenger numbers exceeding 4,000 per week and it is helping us to greatly improve our inter-campus travel.
“The low-carbon technology used to provide the service was an important factor for us to enter into this partnership which will contribute further toward the great advances the University is making in reducing our carbon footprint.”
Councillor James Blackburn, the cabinet member for transport, said: “This service assists with delivering a number of the smart and sustainable objectives of the Sunderland Economic Masterplan and the achievement of key aims for the economy of Sunderland.
“The benefits of using hybrid vehicles as opposed to conventional diesel include a lower fuel consumption, which makes the bus a cleaner service and minimises carbon dioxide and particle emissions.
“We are delighted to work in partnership with Nexus and Sunderland University to launch the new buses.”
The bus service is being operated by private company Go North East.
Representatives of the organisations met for a launch ceremony at Sunderland University’s Travel Hub before taking a tour on the service.
The full route runs from Park Lane interchange via the university’s City Campus, in Chester Road, Sunderland Royal Hospital and Hylton Road to student halls in Millfield.
It crosses the Wearmouth Bridge, stopping at the St Peter’s Metro Station, before passing the Stadium of Light and Aquatic Centre, continuing to the National Glass Centre and St Peter’s Campus.