The City of Cape announced in November that Busmark 2000 had been awarded the tender to supply the city with 190 feeder buses to boost the existing fleet of MyCiti vehicles.
Mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater Brett Herron said that the Optare Solo buses would be assembled locally in Cape Town.
While the existing MyCiti buses measure 12 m and 18 m in length, the Optare Solo is a low-floor, low-entry bus, measuring 9 m in length and 2.5 m in width, which would be used as feeder buses to high-volume routes. “This will now serve to alleviate the congestion in suburbs and bring people from within suburbs to the trunk routes and then connect to the central business distric,” said Herron.
Optare Solo could accomodate 50 passengers, with seating space for 25 people. The bus also includes a wheelchair bay and is designed such that wheelchair-bound passengers are able to enter the bus without assistance. A strapping mechanism that can be used for tying down bicycles in the bus has also been provided.
“An interesting fact [is that] these new buses’ engine emissions are rated at Euro 5, which is a step up from our existing fleet which is Euro 4, so they are more environmentally friendly,” added Herron.
The contract awarded to Busmark 2000 has a value of R660-million and along with the supply of the buses includes a maintenance programme, the training of maintenance staff and the equipping of a new MyCiti depot and workshops. Busmark 2000 is committed to supplying the first 30 vehicles in mid-2012 and, thereafter, will be required to deliver 20 buses a month.
Busmark 2000 will be producing the Solo under licence from UK company Optare. While the company has its own existing range of locally designed buses, which it manufactures in Gauteng, Busmark 2000 CEO Hermann Staude said it was decided to import existing tech- nology from the UK to meet the demand for a small mobile bus. As the bus has minimal front overhang, this provides for extra manoeuvrability, along with the shorter length of the vehicle.
For the 190 buses to be supplied to the City of Cape Town, 70% of the compo- nents will be imported from Optare, in the UK, with the remainder being sourced locally. The assembly facility is being estab- lished in rented premises in the Elsie’s River industrial area in Cape Town and more than 110 staff will be employed for the assembly phase. Some 100 jobs will be created during the maintenance and training phase.
Speaking to Engineering News after the announcement, Staude said that the company is looking to buy a property to permanently set up operations in Cape Town for the manufacture of further Optare Solo buses.
After the City of Cape Town’s contract has been fulfilled, the company will be looking to manufacture more of the components itself in the future, including the bus structure. While the City of Cape Town was Busmark 2000’s only firm client for the Optare Solo buses, interest has already been shown by the University of Cape Town, the George municipality and the Gautrain operator in Gauteng.