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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 13:40 GMT
Buses sent to aid tsunami victims
A Solent Blue Line bus
Buses that have been replaced by newer vehicles are being sent
Bus operators across the country have got together to donate vehicles to the Asian tsunami relief effort.

So far 78 buses have been donated to the Asia Bus Response scheme to be sent out to Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

The fully-operational older vehicles taken off the road to be replaced by more modern ones are said to be better-suited to the tropical climate.

Southern Vectis, which runs companies in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, has already donated 11 vehicles.

It's a way of hitting the ground running
Bus chief Phil Stockley
Phil Stockley, managing director of Eastleigh-based subsidiary firm Solent Blue Line, told the BBC News website: "It's a practical way of helping. Sometimes it's nice to do something that's tangible.

"Clearly there's going to be a need for vehicles as communities are rebuilt.

"It's a way of hitting the ground running."

Nigel Eggleton, commercial director of the Oxford Bus Company, which is to donate four buses, said: "Although the buses are now nine years old they still have many years of service left in them and we are sure they can make a difference to the communities involved."

The vehicles are currently being stored at depots across the country.

They will eventually descend on one port - possibly Southampton - in March to be shipped out.

Tropical conditions

Mitch de Faria, who organised the scheme in support of charity Islamic Relief, said every bus would be checked over to make sure it was fully operational.

She added that the fact that they were older vehicles meant that they would be less susceptible to breakdown in the hot climate.

"The buses that are needed in tropical conditions are very different to the ones over here.

"We have smooth roads and an established infrastructure and have pretty high expectations of our public service vehicles.

"Out there, they have to be high-floor, low-tech - anything with computerisation tends to go wrong in the humidity," she explained.

Local people will also be trained to operate and repair the buses.

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