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Autopax, the road transport arm of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, will take delivery of 460 Mercedes-Benz inter-city and semi-luxury buses by April next year.
Autopax CEO Saki Zamxaka said on Monday that the arrival of the new fleet was expected to “substantially enhance” the company’s service levels.
A total of 570 new buses are being added to the Autopax fleet between October 2009 and May 2010, at a total cost of R1,4-billion.
The new buses will replace and more than double the existing Autopax fleet.
Autopax noted that the new fleet will offer significant growth opportunities to the company, which planned to extend its route networks to meet rising demand in areas such as the Limpopo corridor, and to enable cross-border travel into countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.
The 460 bus chassis (of the type 0500 RSD 2436) will be assembled at MBSA's East London plant, in the Eastern Cape.
The bus body manufacturer, Marcopolo, which is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, will produce the bus bodies locally.
“We are extremely pleased that such an important contract has been awarded to MBSA,” said MBSA president and CEO Dr Hansgeorg Niefer.
The Autopax project includes comprehensive driver training.
An additional 1 400 drivers will be recruited and trained within the next six months.
Existing employees will receive product-specific training in order to drive the new buses, which are fully automatic, and which have new features like on-board entertainment and air-conditioning, which drivers must operate.
Included in the training programme is a course on defensive driving and advanced driving.
Autopax said the new bus fleet is required to accommodate the expected increase in commuter traffic during June next year, when the 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off in South Africa.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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