A BUS manufacturer has received a major boost after securing a £21 million contract to build more than 100 vehicles at its site in North Yorkshire.

Optare, based in Sherburn in Elmet, has a deal to supply 114 single-decker buses to Tranzit Group, one of New Zealand’s biggest public transport operators.

The first of the Metrocity diesel buses are due to be delivered in March next year, the firm said.

Graham Belgum, president of Optare, a subsidiary of India-based Ashok Leyland, commented: “This is a significant step for Optare as part of our international export strategy and signals the exciting growth opportunities available to us in Australasia.

“Further, it recognises our continued innovation in lightweight products that use fuel efficient and environmentally friendly technologies.”

The full order is set to be fulfilled by July next year.

Paul Snelgrove, managing director of Tranzit Group, says the fuel efficiency performance of the buses “particularly appeal to us.”

He added: “A team of us travelled the world to find the ideal lightweight solution for New Zealand roads. We were impressed with the lightweight design of the Metrocity combined with the excellent passenger capacities it offers.

“In addition, the Metrocity provided us both a small and medium sized vehicle option 10.1m and 10.8m respectively, with identical body and running gear. The 10.1m Metrocity, with a shorter wheelbase is ideal for travelling through some of Wellington’s narrow streets and hilly terrain.

“Overall, we were impressed with Optare’s approach and willingness to work in partnership, it was a no-brainer decision for us.”

Optare says the deal is its biggest ever Australasian export order.

The company employs about 300 people.