Buscor orders 40 MAN bi-articulated bustrains

Mpumalanga’s leading passenger bus operation, Buscor, signed an official order for forty new MAN bi-articulated buses at the 2011 Johannesburg International Motor Show on 7 October. The 27-metre-long bus is the longest in Africa and forms part of a Buscor/MAN pilot project in conjunction with the Mpumalanga Department of Transport to bring greater efficiencies to passenger transport using abnormal-length buses.The 40 new units will expand Buscor’s existing bi-articulated bustrain fleet of 10 MAN Lion’s Explorer prototypes in anticipation of the passing of new legislation allowing the commercial deployment of abnormal-length buses.

According to Fred Kinnear, managing director and founder of Buscor, “the 10 bi-articulated bustrains currently in service are operating on a special permit from the Department of Transport as part of the pilot project, implemented to help reduce traffic congestion, road pavement damage and carbon emissions. The addition of 40 new bi-articulated bustrains to our fleet will significantly reduce the number of Buscor buses on Mpumalanga’s roads.”

The 27-metre long bustrain can carry 137 seated passengers, a significant enhancement on single-articulated bustrains which seat 115 passengers or conventional 78 and 68-seater commuter buses.

“This efficient solution results in very similar fixed operating costs compared to a single-articulated vehicle – one driver, one driveline, and four axles with the same number of wheels – but accommodating a greater number of seated passengers and therefore improved revenue for the bus operator,” says Ray Karshagen, deputy CEO, MAN Truck & Bus SA.

The new bustrain has been developed by MAN in conjunction with Buscor and is based on the Lion’s Explorer HB3 36.390 4x2 chassis with air suspension using an uprated 287kW (390hp) MAN drivetrain with TipMatic transmission. The prime mover pulls two trailers, each with one axle, ensuring an even distribution of mass whilst retaining a four-axle configuration.

Trailer and bodywork development is being done at MAN Bus & Coach in Olifantsfontein, while the cooling trials are being carried out by MAN in Pinetown to ensure the cooling system can cope with South African conditions, especially in the Lowveld’s sub-tropical climate.

“Passengers using our existing bi-articulated buses love the ride comfort and the fact that seatbelts are provided. The engine speed is limited to 80km/h and the longer wheelbase makes it more stable, which adds to the feeling of safety for our passengers. It even boasts a better turning circle than a single-articulated bus,” adds Kinnear.

Buscor transports 140 000 passengers per day between Barberton, Hazyview, Ngodwana and Komatipoort covering 2.3 million kilometres per month. “The bi-articulated bustrains bring new economies of scale to our operation, offering better fuel-per-passenger figures than any other bus model, which boosts our profitability while conserving the environment,” Kinnear explains.

For Karshagen, “the core objective of high-density passenger transport is moving more people efficiently, safely, affordably and comfortably. The MAN Lion’s Explorer bi-articulated bus meets all these criteria.”