Volvo Still Leader of the Pack
routeONE magazine|1 March 2017 - Issue 679

Many small operators know the feeling of excitement that comes with the arrival of a new coach. With the 17-plate now here, one of the first to enter service is continuing a Staffordshire firm’s relationship with Volvo, its favoured supplier

Tim Deakin

2017’s high season comes a little closer today for North Staffordshire-based Hollinsheads Coaches, which is among those operators placing a fresh-faced 17-plate vehicle in service in the form of its third 9700, a model that is the flagship of Volvo’s coach range.

Hollinsheads has long been a Volvo customer and internally, the new coach is similar to a 9700 in its fleet that dates from 2015. But externally it’s a different matter, and a revised livery debuts on the newcomer to set it apart from its predecessor.

All nine full-size coaches in the 14-strong Biddulph fleet are Volvo, and they are complemented by two smaller Sitcars and three buses. The 9700, the first of which joined in 2011 in the form of a two-axle 49-seater, is now the tool of choice, says Managing Director Stephen Haydon.

“We have looked at all of Volvo’s coach range and I believe that the 9700 presents the best image to customers. It gives the best first impression when they board; the operator pays for that, but I believe that the 9700’s quality is worth the extra outlay.”

Passengers first

Although Volvo is the dominant marque in Hollinsheads’ fleet, the operator looked closely at another manufacturer’s offering when deciding on its latest purchase. But while there are several reasons that it has stuck with Volvo, none are what Stephen describes as sentimental ones.

“First and foremost this is a business and not a hobby. No operator should think that customers care what chassis, engine or gearbox is underneath the coach. They don’t.

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