401 V401 JTO
New To: Trent Buses
Chassis: Optare Solo M920 VN6345
Body: Integral B34F
Status: Cut in half to become the Kids Bus
401 was supplied new to Trent Buses in February 2000, the first of a batch of 20 buses. These buses were the first low floor minibuses to enter the fleet. This means that the front area of the bus is at a single level, there being one step from road level into the saloon. This makes access easier for passengers and enables buggies to be brought onto the bus without folding them away.
401 entered service at Sutton Junction and spent most of its working life there. When new it was painted in the Trent Buses Red and Cream livery. It was later painted into the all-over red Trentbarton livery.
In 2012, 401 passed to TM Travel, based in Sheffield. A repaint into their livery followed and it worked for them until 2015 when it was put into storage. 401 passed to Nottingham Heritage Vehicles Charity in 2016. 401 had all its panels and interior removed in the hope to start restoration. Upon doing this, we found one of the Solos main issues. A Solo is an integral vehicle meaning that unlike traditional bus construction it does not have a have a separate chassis with a body mounted on top. 401’s framework was in need of significant structural welding before it could receive a repanel.
The decision was made that the bus was too far gone. We didn’t want to scrap this significant vehicle so work started in converting it into a kids play area. So far we have cut the bus in half, put a steel bulkhead in where the back end used to be, fitted casters and we have also wired up the majority of the electrics. This project is work in progress and will hopefully be done soon.
Relevance To The Collection
This was the first low floor bus bought by Trent