The Optare Versa is a midibus built by Optare in its Leeds factory. It was officially launched in Britain at the Euro Bus Expo 2006 at the NEC, Birmingham, on 7 November 2006, with the first order of 25 buses being placed by Stagecoach on the same day.
Optare has designed the midibus to fill a gap in its bus product range between the full size single deck Tempo and the smaller Solo minibus. Some operators of the longest of Optare's minibus-derived Solo models commented that the 7.0m wheelbase was too long, reducing manoeuvrability, which resulted from the Solo's front axle being ahead of the passenger entrance.
The Versa, with its entrance ahead of the front axle, considerably reduces the wheelbase, to either 5.13m or 5.82m (depending upon whether the overall length is 10.3m or 11m respectively). It is designed to seat between 36 and 40 passengers.
The Versa has a typical Optare design, with a swooping roof line, large glazed area and swept-back front which takes many of its styling cues from the Solo, but with a more modern, updated appearance.
The Optare Versa became available from late 2007, with the first buses being delivered in October 2007 to Arriva Shires & Essex, Arriva Midlands and Stagecoach Western. Transdev's Blazefield Group have 25 Versas in service in East Lancashire, 6 of them with Lancashire United and 19 with Burnley & Pendle. A further Transdev order followed with 11 entering service with Transdev Yellow Buses in October 2008.
In June 2009 Go North East received 16 brand new Versas, the first in the Go-Ahead Group, these were followed by another 29 between 2010 and 2011. 2009 also saw more examples entering service with Arriva, East London and Selkent.
In January 2012, for the route 868 that is extending to LEGOLAND Malaysia, and conversion to full-day service, additional Optare Versas by Metroline are ordered.