Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How far have we come?

Yesterday I wondered just how far we had come in engineering over the last 10 years? Rather than drive one of our regular coaches I was given a coach borrowed from another depot. This was not a new coach but a DAF engined Plaxton made in 1997. Rather than a coach with an automatic transmission, this coach had a 4 over 4 manual gearbox which is unusual on a coach.

What a difference this was to drive compared to our usual Volvo B12B , also on a Plaxton body but with an I shift automatic transmission. The manual gearbox lets the driver give the passengers and himself a really smooth drive than is simply not possible on an automatic. You can never drive an automatic as smoothly as a manual, it just cannot be done. Even with heavy London traffic the manual is always the smoother drive.

Although the outfit we are under contract to stipulate coaches to be under 7 or 8 years old, this model I drove yesterday was giving the passenger a better ride than a younger model. Why operators are buying new coaches with automatic transmission is beyond me. For all the alleged advances in engineering in the last 10 years there has been no improvement in the ride quality for the passenger or driver.

Private cars have advanced a great deal in the past 10 years but clearly after yesterday's driving experience coaches have not moved on.

The mirrors on this old coach were also far better than the current model with reduced blind spots.
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