Bus trains are gaining in popularity. The comprehensively modernized MAN concept is flexible, efficient and eco-friendly.
This coupling is a real eye catcher: MAN’s urban bus, Lion’s City, in a bus train version. Together, the tractor vehicle and trailer reach an impressive length of 23 metres and offer room for about 130 passengers – a capacity roughly 30% higher than those of articulated buses. The bus train allows public transport companies to respond flexibly and efficiently to fluctuating passenger volumes. Another advantage: It features an additional door, as compared to a large articulated vehicle. Passenger turnover is therefore conducted rapidly, with congestion at bus stops avoided. The bus train concept is also eco-friendly: When passenger numbers go down, such as during the weekend, the trailer can be easily detached. This solo deployment of buses thereby saves fuel.
Attaching trailers to buses is by no means a new idea and such teams were already a common sight on the streets of many European cities until the early 1960s. In the more recent past, however, they led a niche existence. That was until Munich’s municipal works, SWM, became the first major public transport company to invite tenders for the acquisition of a larger number of bus trains to serve the city’s public transport company (MVG). Thus, Munich was the first large German city to rely once more on the fleets. First surveys indicate that the bus trains are very well received by passengers: “Our customers especially appreciate the ample space,” says Herbert König, head of MVG and Managing Director at the traffic department of SWM.
In the course of the MVG inquiry, MAN comprehensively modernized the bus train concept. The trailer steering is mechanical and electrohydraulic with electronic controls and there is air conditioning in both the front and back. Due to fully automatic video surveillance – see graphic below (1) – the driver has a constantly clear view of any events in the trailer through a monitor. In addition, a two-way intercom system (2) allows for direct communication in case of any emergencies. Safety is also a priority outside of the vehicle: To also allow for seamless monitoring of the entire space – back, front and sides – around the trailer, a wide-angle mirror system, combined with a rear-view backup camera and two side cameras (3) was installed. Both side cameras at the trailer rear supervise the swivelling action at bends.
An integrated start-up interlock (4) prevents the trailer from moving inadvertently. In addition, the bus cannot be driven unless all doors are closed. The Antilock Braking System (ABS) (5) is another safety feature. In case of having to break fully, it inhibits the wheels from blocking and retains the steering capacity of the vehicle. The Electronically ControlledAir Suspension (ECAS) (6) enhances driver comfort and facilitates passenger boarding, as the bus can be gently lowered on the boarding side. A wide barrier (7) prevents access to the trailer interspace, thus guarding against accidents. The same applies to the reflectors and headlights (8) which allow for secure attachment or detachment of the trailers in the dark. Last, but not least, the Electronic Braking System (EBS) (9) shortens the brake path and ensures that the vehicle comes to a halt within a shorter period of time.
While 35 MAN tractor vehicles and 12 trailers have been deployed by Munich’s public transport system (ÖPNV) since 2014, the SWM/MVG municipal companies ordered 15 additional bus trains from MAN in late 2015. They are primarily dispatched to heavily frequented routes in commuter traffic as well as generally busy stretches such as the MetroBus line 53, which covers 13 kilometres and runs along some of Munich’s main traffic arteries. “Our bus segment is growing from one year to the next, with the number of passengers having increased by almost 20% in the last decade. Our acquisition of the bus trains responds to this trend,” explains König.
This infographic illustrates the exact design of an MAN bus train:
Images © Max Kratzer
This customisable, modular city bus series meets even the highest of requirements when it comes to transporting people in an urban setting and boasts exceptional levels of comfort and safety.