The launch, which was held at the Metrobus Milpark depot, marked the beginning of the refleeting programme geared at replacing Metrobus’s ageing fleet.
Speaking at the launch, DaimlerChrysler Bus head Wolfgang Diez said that 38 single-deck buses, of which, 30 are normal city commuter buses, include six that are fitted with a hydraulic chair lift, for easy access to people in wheelchairs, and two luxury coaches.
The luxury coaches boast several new features, which include executive reclinable seats, air conditioners, PA systems and luggage compartments.
Also speaking at the launch, Metrobus MD Bheki Shongwe said, “The luxury coaches are for private hire for conventions, conferences, events, tours and other activities.” The new fleet will contribute towards meeting the increasing demand for Metrobus services.
“The huge demand is clearly demonstrated by the introduction of the Regina Mundi, in Soweto to Sunninghill route where passenger numbers have far exceeded expectations,” he continued.
Further, issues of capacity, accessibility, reli- ability and efficiency will also be addressed.
“The aim of the refleeting programme is to have a new fleet with an average age of less than seven years by 2010,” he added.
Metrobus has a total of 495 buses, which include the 38 new buses. More than half of these buses are more than 20 years old; however, despite the ageing fleet, Metrobus has achieved great success in the past 15 months.
These include: • increasing the number of passengers transported over a month to two-million for the first time since corporatisation and with reduced capacity; • a huge reduction in the number of days buses have spent at workshops, which improved the reliability of the service; and • increasing the number of women drivers from 15 to over 45.
The new buses are just one example of Metro-bus’s commitment to provide a better quality service to its passengers.
“Our vision is to be a world-class African bus service in the Greater City of Johannesburg,” said Shongwe.
DaimlerChrysler South Africa’s Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle division’s delivery of the first of 126 buses will fall in line with the 2010 soccer World Cup, which has placed South Africa’s backlog of formal public transport systems in the spotlight.
To address the need for public transport, major cities in South Africa are turning their attention to buses, owing to the flexibility they offer in terms of range and route adaptability.
Johannesburg Metro has taken the lead by refleeting and modernising its ageing buses and has selected Mercedes-Benz as the preferred supplier.
Fuel savings of between R30-million and R40-million are forecast, as a result, in relation to the older and less economical vehicles.