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Volume 11. No. 2. Summer 2014


REVIEW: Busworld 2014 - Turkey PROFILE: Logan's Executive Travel LAUNCH PAD: • Optare MetroDecker NEW FLEET: 141 Registrations TEST: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter TRUMPET CALL: Dr. William Wright



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Contents Summer 2014

Fleet Bus & Coach Magazine D’Alton Street, Claremorris, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Tel: +353 (0)94 9372819/ 9372826 Fax: +353 (0)94 9373571 Email: ISSN: 1649-9433 Managing Editor: Jarlath Sweeney Editor: Sean Murtagh Contributors: Paul White, Rob Van Dieten, Cathal Doyle Photography: Jarlath Sweeney, Sean Murtagh, Cathal Doyle, Paul White Administration: Orla Sweeney, Denise Vahey, Paula Mullarkey

4 News • VW Group takes over Scania • Racism free on PSVs • 2014 Coach & Bus Show • National Transport Authority data on Dublin Bus services published PLUS Bus Lane

16 Profile Logan’s Executive Travel

6 New Fleet A selection of new Volvo coach customers

20 Test Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Minibus

8 Cover First Euro 6 drive in the Volvo B11R Jonckheere

22 Conductors Stand Back Seat Driver column

10 Launch Pad New Optare Metrodecker 12 Review Busworld 2014, Istanbul, Turkey Fleet Transport/ Fleet Car/ Green Fleet Management/ Fleet Van & Utility/ Fleet Bus & Coach/ Fleet Trailer & Body Builder/ Fleet Maritime & Caravan Cruise Ireland are published by JJDS Publications Ltd. Registered Office: D’Alton Street, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Co. Reg. 368767 Directors: Jarlath Sweeney, Sean Murtagh.

14 Trumpet Call Great future for Electric Vehicles – Dr. Wright

Advertising: Mary Morrissey, Orla Sweeney Design: Eamon Wynne

18 Industry & Commerce VanHool opens new facility in Macedonia


Printed in Ireland

Fleet Bus & Coach - the official Irish journal of the International Bus/Coach of the Year Awards.

Disclaimer: Fleet Bus & Coach Magazine management can accept no responsibility for the accuracy of contributed articles or statements appearing in this magazine and any views or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Fleet Bus & Coach management, save where otherwise indicated. No responsibility for loss or distress occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by the authors, contributors, Editors or publishers. The Editor reserves the right to make publishing decisions on any advertisements or editorial article submitted to the magazine and to refuse publication or to edit any editorial material as seems appropriate to him. Professional legal advice should always be sought in relation to any specific matter.




POLITECNICA SRL - MONSANO (AN) - ITALY - In UK and Ireland please contact PAOLO GRASSETTI at +353 (0)87 2285804,

4 | NEWS 1

BUS LANE McGinley’s Top Gun Video! Check out this impressive video on YouTube highlighting John McGinley’s recent purchase of eight new Volvo B11R Jonckheere coaches to the Donegal coach operator’s fleet. The link is htt p:// V2RBilSxCiA. The 4.42 minute clip was recorded by Frame It Productions at Mondello Park in association with Irish Commercials (Naas).

EU Bus & Coach demand rises From January to March, the European Union market grew by 0.3%, totalling 7,250 new buses and coaches, according to ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. During Quarter 1 2014, demand for new buses and coaches declined in Italy (-2.4%), the UK (-5.1%) and Spain (-13.7%), while new registrations increased in Germany (+10.7%), France (+8.7%) and Poland (+1.0%). In March, demand for new buses and coaches increased by 4.4%, totaling 2,925 units. Germany posted doubledigit growth (+15.1%) and France (+0.2%) also recorded upturn in this period. The UK, which was the largest market in the month of March with 947 units, posted a 0.6% decrease in registrations. Over the same period, Poland (-0.6%), Spain (-7.0%) and Italy (-8.6%) also saw their demand decline. Relating to the Irish situation, SIMI figures revealed that the market, small and all as it is, was up a staggering 117% in March – 76 new units compared to 35 sold in March 2013.

Iveco Hybrid & CNG buses for Paris RATP, the Parisian public transport operator, has awarded two of four tender lots for new generation Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and hybrid electric citybuses to CNH Industrial’s Iveco Bus brand. These technologies have been chosen for their environmental qualities with Iveco Bus having anticipated RATP’s needs in terms of the reduction of urban pollution, currently a core concern for many European cities.

Open NTA App in windows The National Transport Authority has launched its popular National Journey Planner App in the Windows Store, so that Windows' phone users can readily avail of its clever trip planning functions while on the move. Launched on iPhones and Androids in 2012, the National Journey Planner App has been downloaded over 185,000 times. Every month, it handles some 3 million requests for information, including some 75,000 trip requests. The National Journey Planner App helps people to plan journeys, door-to-door, anywhere in Ireland, using public transport. The Planner is GPS-enabled. It covers bus, rail, tram, taxis, ferries and walking – over 120 operators – with real-time departure information for buses, fully mapped-out route information, printable timetables and details of overall journey times – all in one place. Northern Ireland services are also included. FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2014

Volkswagen Group takeover of Scania may affect MAN


ollowing Volkswagen Group’s acquisition of 90 percent shareholding of Scania, the knock-on affect may lead to downscaling at MAN Truck & Bus, its other heavy commercial vehicle brand within the ever expanding German based conglomerate. Scania’s President & CEO Martin Lundstedt stated his view on the development, “Scania and its management team welcomes the opportunity to accelerate our corporation projects with Volkswagen and MAN without restrictions and thereby create a successful, global commercial vehicle alliance with strong identities for each brand.” These co-operation projects or synergies will be short circuited in order to bring R+D and production costs down. First hit may be Scania and MAN’s Bus & Coach division, with the development of a single modular chassis and drivetrain for independent coachbuilders.

Both Scania and MAN also produce full integral buses and coaches and this element of their business may be affected also with the opportunity to undertake badging exchanges between newly developed produces for selected markets. Volkswagen’s long established bus division in South America must also be taken into consideration here as the amalgamation between brands in this sector take stronger foothold. In the minibus segment this scenario is likely to happen fi rst as the next generation Volkswagen Crafter will also have a MAN badge when rolling off the assembly line at its new factory under construction currently in Poland. Of course, the whole strategy is for the Volkswagen Group to compete head-to-head with industry leaders Daimler and Volvo. The fact that former Daimler Head of Trucks & Buses, Andreas Renschler has joined the Board at Volkswagen in recent months will ensure that the planned synergies of up €650m can be achieved.

Racism-free public transport for Dublin


ublin City Council, the National Transport Authority, Transport Providers and the Immigrant Council of Ireland have teamed up to stamp out racism in Public Transport. A major awareness campaign launched across 1,000 sites, sees posters placed at more than 1,000 sites across Dublin’s public transport network encouraging people to report incidents they either experience or witness to "Th is campaign is an opportunity to further increase awareness about racism not just on public transport but in the wider community. The City Council is delighted to support this important initiative," said Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oísin Quinn, at the launch of the initiative. “While Dublin has escaped the rise in right wing extremism which has emerged in other parts of Europe there can be no room for complacency. By acting together today we are delivering the strongest possible message that racism is not acceptable in Dublin 2014,” he added. Commenting, Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said: “The National Transport Authority, and Dublin’s public transport providers are to be congratulated for taking a lead, not just in increasing awareness about racism, but for introducing robust

procedures to ensure their teams are fully trained to respond to and record incidents when they occur. Such partnerships should be replicated in other sectors. Th is campaign not only keeps the issue of racism on the public, media and political agenda, but more importantly it reaches out to victims and lets them know that there is nothing to fear in coming forward.” "Our message could not be clearer: There’s no room on board for racism and discrimination. By taking a unified stand we are letting the travelling public know that abuse of any kind is unacceptable and it will not be tolerated." It was always important to us to deliver a campaign of substance, which is why the internal training by transport partners and the follow-up support offered to victims by the Immigrant Council of Ireland are both key to ensuring success in the coming weeks. The public transport sector is proud to take a lead with this initiative and together we are determined to ensure that our passengers and staff will be able to travel without fear of abuse or discrimination,” said Gerry Murphy, Chief Executive of the National Transport Authority.

NEWS 11 | 5

2014 Coach & Bus Show is GO!


reparations for the 8th Coach & Bus Show are well under way. This bi-annual event, Ireland’s largest and most successful bus show is taking place in the RDS Simmonscourt Pavilion, Dublin on the weekend of the 15/16 November. Event organiser is once again the Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC), which is the representative body for Ireland’s Coach Touring companies and private bus operators. This 2014 show sponsored by Campion Insurance for the second time, is expected to attract a large gathering from this broad industry.

positive outlook in the economy. Leading coach manufacturers have reported a substantial increase in the purchase of new coaches with operators showing their confidence in the growth of the sector through large investment to maintain and improve Pictured from left: James McGinley, Chairman, CTTC, Minister Leo Varadkar quality standards. This increasing sales TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and Jim Campion, CEO, activity is reflected by the number of Campion Insurance leading coach manufacturers who have One of the highlights of the occasion coach manufacturers and industrial suppliers. already booked their places at this year’s is the Gala Dinner sponsored by Bridgestone They will view first-hand the latest innovative show to display their products. Tyres planned for 15 November at the coach designs and technical improvements Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin. The Driver of the and see the large range of goods and services “Events such as this are extremely important Year Competition in association with the Swilly that industry suppliers have on offer, which are to showcase our industry. The industry plays a Group is another feature of this year’s show. This required to operate a cost effective passenger pivotal role in Irish tourism and the provision competition recognises the high level of services transport business,” explained Kevin Traynor, of public and private transport and in doing so provided by drivers is a key contributing factor National Director of the Coach Tourism & generates significant revenue and employment to the success of the industry. Transport Council. to the state,” concluded Kevin. The target audience for the show will be the 2,000 plus licensed coach operators in the Republic of Ireland as well as their counterparts in Northern Ireland. “This unique event gives operators the opportunity to network and to meet the major

“To date, demand from exhibitors has exceeded all expectations. The show was officially launched at the end of March and already half of the total exhibition space has been booked,” he added. The exhibitor demand reflects the

Exhibitors wishing to book a stand can do so by logging onto or alternatively by contacting Kevin Traynor on 085 8588 395 or 01 8902635.

NTA Data on Dublin Bus Services published National Transport Authority publishes first Statistical Bulletin on Commercial Bus Services in Greater Dublin Area


he data is drawn from the 38 licensed commercial bus operators (from 44 currently in operation around the Capital), who are active in the region and relate to the full-year 2012. These operators range from providers of large-scale inter-city, airport and inter-urban services, to providers of urban and suburban services primarily operating in Dublin city and county. Together, the commercial bus operators in the Greater Dublin Area provide some 4.8% of all public transport journeys taken in Ireland as a whole (2012). Topics covered include: • Number of passenger journeys • Scheduled vehicle kilometres •Number of buses used • Technological and design matters • Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems • Smartcard reading equipment • Low floor/wheelchair access • Revenue matters Total Number of Passenger Journeys Tables 1A and 1B along with Figure 1 illustrate licensed commercial public bus passenger journeys in comparison to Public Service Obligations (PSO) services across the State. PSO services are those public transport services that are subsidised by the Government via the

Authority. The national statistics for PSO bus services are made up of PSO figures from Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and services provided under the Rural Transport Programme (RTP) and relate to contracted services that are subsidised by the State. Further information on these services is available in the Bus Statistics for Ireland – State Funded Services 2013 bulletin No. 01. Although licensed commercial bus passenger journeys only relate to GDA services in this bulletin, a substantial amount of national licensed commercial services operate in to and out of Dublin and they are therefore captured in the GDA licensed bus service statistics. As can be seen in Table 1B, licensed commercial bus passenger journeys represent about 8% of the total figure. However, it must also be borne in mind that journey lengths can vary in size depending on the type of service. For instance a three kilometre urban journey in Dublin city is not the same as a 200km interurban journey between Dublin and Galway, although they are both counted as one passenger journey.

large number of Dublin Bus passenger journeys (113.28 in 2012). A comparison excluding Dublin Bus PSO journeys is shown in Table 1C. Table 1A Annual passenger journeys (millions) Licensed bus services (GDA) - 12.91m PSO bus services (nationally) - 143.64m Total - 156.55m Table 1B Percentage of annual passenger journeys Licensed bus services (GDA) - 8.25% PSO bus services (nationally) - 91.75% Total - 100.00% Table 1C Comparison of annual passenger journeys excluding Dublin Bus PSO services • Licensed bus services (GDA) - 29.84%. • PSO bus services - (nationally excl. Dublin Bus)* - 70.16%. • Total - 100.00%. *Note: PSO services refer to Bus Éireann and Rural Transport Programme (RTP) services.

The percentage of licensed commercial bus passenger journeys is greatly diluted by the


McGinley Coach Travel 100% Volvo


uperb aftersales support provided by Volvo’s Irish dealerships was one of the key factors in McGinley Coach Travel ordering eight new Volvo B11R coaches with Jonckheere bodywork.

Volvo I-Shift seals the deal for


he smoothness of Volvo’s latest I-Shift automated gearbox was a key factor in Irish based company,’s decision to purchase four new Volvo 9700 coaches.

“With our own depots based in Donegal, Dublin and Glasgow, it is important that every eventuality is covered and with Volvo it certainly is. We have Irish Commercials and Dennison Commercials as our dedicated Volvo dealerships. We’ve worked with them over a long period of time and have built up a strong trust and great working relationships,” commented owner, James McGinley.

“The style and the handling of the vehicle were impressive, but what sealed the deal for us was the I-Shift gearbox. It’s an automatic with all of the functionality of a manual,” commented Managing Director, Jim Burke. “Traditional automatics are not as fuel efficient as manuals, but the Volvo I-Shift is unique in that it automates the gear selection, making the engine more fuel efficient.”

Gortahork, Letterkenny, County Donegal based McGinley Coach Travel’s 8 new coaches include six 55-seat and two 53-seater coaches, specified with Volvo’s D11C 11-litre diesel 450hp engine, with Volvo I-Shift gearbox.’s new Volvo D13C 12.8 litre coaches will be operating on a non-stop direct service from Galway to Dublin city, a journey which takes two and a half hours. The Galway city based fi rm offers up to 19 daily return services between Galway and Dublin. “Reliability is never an issue with Volvo Bus,” continued Jim Burke.

The new coaches feature facilities including a radio, iPad & Phone charging points at every seat, onboard Wi-Fi, CD & DVD player, TV monitors and WC. They are also equipped with CCTV, climate control and top of the range half leather seating.

The 15 strong fleet now consists of 80% Volvo vehicles and yet more Volvo coaches are set to follow later in the year. “The 9700 is the most comfortable coach on the market, the addition of a third steered axle at the rear of the coach makes for a smoother journey, even on the worst of roads,” added Jim Burke.

Second Volvo B13R 9700 Volvo meets Suirway for Deros Tours Coaches’ needs ountry Kerry based Deros Tours has taken delivery of its


second fully integral Volvo B13R coach with Volvo 9700 bodywork, taking the number of the Swedish vehicles in their fleet to six.


Deros Tours’ Transport Manager, Denis Spillane, said of the company’s decision to go ahead with a repeat order from last year: “It’s the driveability factor that sells the Volvo B13R 9700 to us. It’s a driver’s vehicle. We have also received positive feedback from our passengers who have travelled on the B13R. At the end of the day they are the driving force behind our business, so it’s important that we listen to their feedback.”

“Th is vehicle offers us the complete package. We’ve had Volvo coaches before and they’ve always performed admirably. So it seemed like the perfect choice,” stated Suirway Coaches’ Managing Director, Brian Lynch. “The B11R offers us capacity, performance, driveability and style all in one vehicle. We will be using it across our extensive tour programme, but also for some private hire work as and when required,” he added.

Volvo B11R coach with Sunsundegui SC7 bodywork has been described as the perfect combination of performance and style by Waterford based operator Suirway Coaches.

Powered by the proven Volvo D13C in-line six-cylinder diesel engine, the Volvo B13R meets the Euro 5 emission standard and comes fitted with the established Vo l v o I-Shift

Suirway Coaches’ new 55-seater vehicle is liveried in blue and green and is specified with Volvo’s fuel efficient, D11C 11-litre diesel engine, rated at 450hp, coupled to the Volvo I-Shift gearbox.

12-speed, automated gear changing system.

Translink’s 42 new Volvo B5TL Double Deckers


estined for Translink’s Metro Services operating in and around Belfast are 42 new Euro B5TL double deck buses on order from Volvo Bus with Wrightbus bodywork and set for delivery later this year. “We’re pleased to place the order for 42 new Volvo buses which will allow us to maintain high standards, terms of quality and comfort

FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2014

for our Belfast customers,” explained Ciaran Doherty, Translink General Manager, Bus Services.

is good news for Belfast, helping to improve the overall local air quality and providing a healthier environment for all.”

“In addition we believe these will be amongst the fi rst vehicles in Northern Ireland to meet the latest Euro 6 emission standards making them some of the most fuel efficient and environmentally-friendly buses in the region. With much lower air quality emissions this

Volvo’s new diesel engined B5TL double deck bus has been completely re-developed in close co-operation with Volvo’s long-term body building partner, Wrightbus and was officially launched at Coach & Bus Live in 2013. Text: Jarlath Sweeney -

Where our industry meets... 2014

Euro Bus Expo has firmly established itself as one of the most important dates in the coach and bus sector’s calendar. With exhibitors from every link of the supply chain, this year’s show will once again provide an unrivalled showcase for the industry to gather and see the latest product and service innovations, not least all the cutting edge vehicle developments from many leading manufacturers. Euro Bus Expo 2014 will focus firmly on the future of passenger transport too, with a stimulating and informative education programme based on technology and the environment. So whether you are a bus and coach operator, an industry supplier or stakeholder - all roads lead to the NEC Birmingham 4-6 November for Euro Bus Expo 2014. To get your free entry into the industry’s premier trade fair in 2014, register online today at:

Join the conversation /EuroBusExpo


Euro Bus Expo

Euro Bus Expo


Volvo B11R Euro 6 Road Test ‘A Workhorse in Designer Clothing’


any operators fear making the leap to Euro 6, and with good reason. Anyone who has built a business in the unforgiving passenger transport sector, is hesitant to try anything that may put their reputation at risk. Nevertheless Euro 6 is here, and like it or not we must eventually embrace the technology. There is some comfort to be gained in that the risks for vehicle manufacturers are equally significant. For the global players like Volvo Bus Corporation when you get it wrong, it goes wrong on a global scale. The affects of which are very costly, and are guaranteed to live long in the memory of their customers. This means manufacturers must get the technology right, or the consequences for their brand can be catastrophic. To assess how Volvo rises to the challenge of Euro 6, Fleet Bus & Coach took the new B11R for an exclusive Irish road test. Volvo’s Euro 5 range offered a choice of 7, 9, 11, and 13 litre engines. For Euro 6 this has been slimmed down to three. Two of the options the D5 and the D8 are new engines, and the third the D11, is a revised version of the 11 litre Euro 5 unit. The D13 engine series has now been dropped. The D11 fitted in our test unit is an extensively re-engineered version of the Euro 5 version. It is an inline six with OHC, four valves per cylinder

and common rail fuel injection, and is available in three power options of 380hp, 430hp and 460hp (280kW) (316kW) and (339 kW) respectively. All three versions of the D11 produce their peak torque between 1,000 1,400 rpm with our 430hp version rated at 2,050 Nm. For the D11, Volvo uses SCR, DOC, DPF* and what it describes as a ‘hot or non-cooled EGR system to achieve Euro 6. This means that EGR is only employed when the engine is cold. The benefits of a hot EGR are that Euro 6 is achieved with a much simpler system. The downside is that it can slightly increase AdBlue consumption from approximately 4 - 5% to 6 - 7%. Regeneration of the Diesel Particulate Filter should occur automatically, though if needed a manual facility is available to use at a suitable time and place. When this is necessary the system injects fuel into the DPF and runs at a high idle of 1,200 rpm to burn off any residue. The exhaust system is contained behind the rearmost panel on the off side and allows ample room for any necessary servicing or replacement of the DPF. Equally access around the engine bay for routine maintenance and daily checks is fine. This includes access to swing out radiator, which is housed in the rearmost panel on the near side. The standard transmission for B11R is Volvo’s 12-speed I-Shift automated manual. With 430hp on tap some might question if a 12-speed transmission is necessary, and would an eight or nine do just as well. That been said, we found the ECU assessed information from the inclinometer quickly, and I-Shift chose its ratios well to compensate for the differing road conditions. As an example from a standing start on the flat, I-Shift selected 4th and then moved to 7th, 9th and held 11th for a short time before selecting top. It also managed these block shifts smoothly without any tendency to lunge. Interestingly for the Euro 6 B11R the I-Shift gear selector has been moved from the driver’s left to now being situated on the right. Possibly the next move will see it located on the dash or steering column. If preferred, the option of ZF’s six-speed Ecolife fully automatic transmission can be specified. This may suit some operators especially for demanding city centre operations. However the ZF option is only available with the 380hp engine. The B11R now comes with an updated version of Volvo’s I-Start as standard. I-Start uses two separate sets of batteries, one set for starting, and the other for consumables. The system ensures there is always enough power

FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2014

COVER | 9 to start the coach, and should eliminate those embarrassing and costly callouts. While I-Start has been available for a number of years, Volvo has improved the system and despite using four batteries, I-Start saves weight as each set of batteries are smaller. Jonckheere bodywork is always a popular choice and the JHV126 body compliments the Volvo chassis. Its clean lines promote an air of elegance and the simple unfussy front styling means the coach will not date. The trademark front light clusters enhance the minimalist appearance and give the B11R an appealing profile. A similar theme of practical elegance carries through to the interior. The wide entrance is perfectly functional; likewise the interior fi xtures and fittings are also suitable to the point where you don’t necessarily notice them. Taking a second look you discover that all is well in order and that it is just not over-elaborated for the sake of decoration. This version came with a 53+1 seating capacity. The Fainsa Gala reclining seats with footrests offered good legroom and were comfortable. Considering the dimensions and generous legroom for 53 seats, access to the toilet is better than one would expect, and the staircase is not as steep as it appears. The driver’s cockpit has received a slight makeover. It's nothing too dramatic, and nothing will seem unfamiliar to regular drivers, apart from the aforementioned I-Shift selector being relocated. There is a new binnacle and the switchgear and controls have been regrouped into common themes. After a few minutes getting accustomed to the layout, it all becomes a normal day at the office. For the driver there is ample storage for personal items and the Isringhausen seat comes with armrests and individual microphone. Overall the driver's workstation is a pleasant and well designed space. As a rule Volvo has always produced coaches that handle well and are comfortable. So adding Volvo’s Independent Front Suspension (IFS) should enhance the ride quality. However running south on the M7 from Naas to Portlaoise, it is somewhat difficult to notice the improvements IFS should bring. At Portlaoise we turned off the M7 and headed towards Kilkenny on the N77. On this stretch of road it was possible to get a better feel for the system, and assess some of the benefits IFS delivers over a regular beam axle. There is no doubt IFS is a clever piece of engineering, and the suspension does provide a more balanced drive over a beam arrangement, particularly on national road sections where it follows the contours, and absorbs the bumps giving better directional control. Our drive covered a mixture of motorway and national roads, we returned a respectable fuel figure of 19L/100 kms (14.87Mpg). Despite some heavy rain showers there was little wind, and conditions on the day were good overall. However with a bit more attention to the driving style we feel this figure could be improved on. Volvo’s models have always delivered a comfortable and assured experience for passengers and driver, and the Euro 6 B11R continues that trend. The coach offers a high quality touring class experience for the passengers, while at the same time delivering a solid performance for the operator. As a leading vehicle producer Volvo Bus Corporation has extensively researched, developed and tested its Euro 6 technology, and B11R looks set to further enhance the brand’s profile with this solid performer. Volvo’s Euro 5 has to date performed well and as the Euro 6 B11R is largely an improved version of the Euro 5, there is no real basis to expect any unforeseen issues. It is good to drive and while not overtly glamorous it scores high on refined functionality, finished off with elegant and practical styling, making it a sound business investment. * DOC - Diesel Oxidation Catalyser DFP - Diesel Particulate Filter SCR - Selective Catalytic Reduction EGR - Exhaust Gas Recirculation

Text & Photos: Paul White -

Spec Check Make Model Body type Engine Rated Power Rated Torque Euro Rating Transmission Brakes Suspension Retardation Devices Drive Axle Ratio Dimensions Luggage Tyres

Volvo Bus B11R (4x2) IFS Jonckheere JHV 126 - 53 Seat +1 Volvo D11K - 10.8 Litre, in-line six cylinder 430 hp (316 kW) 2,050 Nm between 1,000 - 1,400 rpm Euro 6 – EGR, SCR, with AdBlue 12 Speed I-Shift – AT2412E Discs all round - ABS, EBS, ASR. ESP IFS - Front 2 Bellows – Rear 4 Bellows, Volvo Compact Retarder – VR3250 2.64:1 L – 12.57 m W - 2.55 m H - 3.66 m 9 m3 (approx.) Steer Axle: Michelin X Coach 2 - 295/80 R22.5 Drive Axle: Michelin X Coach 2 - 295/80 R22.5


Optare on upward trajectory with new double deck MetroDecker


ptare, the Yorkshire based bus and coach manufacturer is expanding its horizons with the launch of a brand new double deck bus. The MetroDecker will go on sale to bus operators in the third quarter of this year, with fi rst vehicles being delivered to customers by early 2015. Best known for its range of urban buses including choices of electric and hybrid units utilising the latest low carbon technology, the MetroDecker is the fi rst new product for Optare since being acquired by the Hinduja Group in 2012, and its fi rst double deck offering. It represents entry into an important market segment, with double-deckers making up 40 per cent of the UK bus market. Promising to set new standards for fuel efficiency and passenger comfort, the MetroDecker, which will be manufactured in Leeds, weighs less than 10 tonnes. Sharing a common platform with the company’s existing single deck products, it is powered by a Mercedes-Benz 230hp OM934 Euro 6 engine and features the ZF Ecolife transmission with TopoDyn and AIS to maximise fuel efficiency and reduce fuel consumption. The bus is built to Transport for London (TfL) standards. To make servicing and maintenance as efficient as possible, Optare has designed the MetroDecker with the engine and transmission mounted as a removable power-pack, a feature

FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2014

consistent with the rest of the vehicles in the Optare family, while all chassis and access points have been placed externally without the use of any floor-access plates. A highmounted exhaust allows the DPF cartridge to be removed in-situ.

development of a new series of products that will open more markets for Optare – the MetroDecker is a critical product in this new series. We will continue to invest in and make Optare a premium urban bus brand globally.”

To maximise manoeuvrability and offer a smooth ride, the MetroDecker comes with full electronic levelling, fully independent front suspension, and a 4 air spring rear axle with anti-roll bar all supplied by ZF. The bus is also equipped with the iBus intelligent monitoring and management system.

According to Enrico Vassallo, newly appointed Chief Executive Officer at Optare, “The MetroDecker represents the evolution of Optare design and quality standards. We have worked hard to assess and evaluate every part of the vehicle to ensure it is as efficient as possible; consolidating parts, reducing complexity and removing duplication. And all this has been achieved with real-world fuel savings and outstanding safety and customer comfort at the top of our agenda. With clean lines, uncluttered view of destinations and route numbers, direct access to an extra-large wheelchair area, ample space for multiple buggies, the MetroDecker ensures optimal customer comfort.”

A subsidiary of Ashok Leyland, the world’s 4th largest bus manufacturer, Optare’s parent, the Indian Hinduja Group run by billionaire Srichand P Hinduja, has invested heavily since acquiring the company two years ago. Speaking at the launch of the MetroDecker at the London Transport Museum in Convent Garden, Mr. G.P. Hinduja, co-chairman of Hinduja confirmed its commitment to building Optare into a premier bus manufacturer. “We are extremely proud that Optare is transforming itself into a truly international company, with the able support of Ashok Leyland, our group flagship that carries over 100 million people on its buses everyday. In the fi rst phase, Ashok Leyland invested heavily in upgrading Optare’s capabilities by consolidating production in an all-new manufacturing facility in Leeds. As part of the second phase, Ashok Leyland is supporting the

As well as the TfL compliant two door version shown, further versions of the Optare Double Decker range will follow, with open top and single door designs to be unveiled in winter 2014. A hybrid version is expected in Quarter 2, 2015, with an EV version to follow by the fourth quarter of next year.

Text & Photos: Cathal Doyle -

RDS, nscou rt Pav S a t u rd ilion, D ay 15t ublin h & Su n d a Novem y 16th ber 20 14


• Ireland’s largest event in the Coach & Bus industry. • The greatest gathering of Áeet owners, drivers, transport managers, mechanics and support staff under one roof. • Your c chance anc to meet the decision ecision ision m makers! akers!

To reserve your stand, visit: The Coach & Bus Show has been organised by the Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC) since 2000 The CTTC is the voice of Ireland’s coach tourism and independent bus companies


Busworld – Istanb u


t the end of April this year the fifth Busworld Turkey took place at the Istanbul (CNR) Expo Centre over three days. Attracting over 250 exhibitors and 12,000 visitors, Fleet Bus & Coach’s Sean Murtagh was there to report.


Busworld Turkey is in many ways similar to the Irish Coach & Bus Show due to its involvement with its National Association such as the Turkish Bus Operators Federation (TOFED). Although most of the big European Public Transport Operators have operations in Turkey, family run companies are still the norm. With over 12,000 visitors coming from 84 different countries Busworld Turkey has appeal for all the major manufacturers and suppliers. 250 exhibitors, 75 of them from other countries showcased products and services for the industry. At the opening ceremony Mr. Luc Gloriuex, President of Busworld International told guests that buses are as important to any economy as food and clothing.


Also speaking at the opening ceremony Mr. Mehmet Erdoğan, Deputy Under Secretary (Junior Minister) at the Turkish Department of Transport reaffi rmed his Government commitment to the operators and in particular improving journey times on city routes with extra bus lanes and corridors. Two important events were organised in conjunction with the Show - a seminar on Fire Safety and a workshop on Bus Management in Turkish cities. Engine fires that lead to complete write off of vehicles is a credible threat for operators. In Western Europe there are about one hundred of these incidents each year. In Turkey however, the problem is much bigger with almost one hundred bus fires of various degrees reported last year.


AKIA Only a few months in business this company which was established by engineers and management from a few different manufacturers has already delivered 60 buses to the Turkish market.

Guleryuz (Cobra) FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2014


Using its own chassis with Cummins engines and ZF axles, all vehicles (up to 12m) are built to EU standards. Bozankaya One of the smaller manufacturers in Turkey, its E-Bus is attracting attention. At 10.7m it is all-electric. On trials and now in service the bus can cover 200 km without recharge. With a top speed of 75 kp/h it can carry 90 passengers (25 seated and 65 standing). BYD BYD (Build Your Dream) is a Chinese bus builder that in a short time has made a big impact on the European market. An all-electric bus, there are 1,100 BYDs in service in Western Europe including two in London. BYD predicts that there will be 5,000 in operation in Europe by the end of this year. With a range of 250 km, BYD is guaranteeing the battery for 12 years, its parent company is a battery manufacturer and almost 25% of all batteries (mobile phones, etc) are manufactured by this company. All manufacturers will tell you that battery development and life is the key to electric bus development. Its future seems certain because of the company background and substantial American involvement, BYD is a name to watch. Cummins Cummins sold 3,000 engines into the Turkish market in 2013 and launched its Euro 6 range at Busworld. Euro 6 engine emission technology will be required in Turkey by 2016. Cummins is confident that the fuel economy achieved in the Euro 4 and 5 engines will be matched in Euro 6 with savings in AdBlue usage where used. Firedect Not all fires on coaches start in the engine compartment and with up to 50 sensors on the Firedect system any sign of smoke or fire is not only communicated to the driver but using the telematic system the depot and controller are alerted also. Easily installed the system can be retrofitted to most vehicles.


b ul, Turkey

Isuzu Isuzu celebrates 30 years in the Turkish market this year. Over the three decades it has manufactured over 35,000 buses. Since 1999 it has been exporting to sixty countries. At the show it launched its all-new 12m bus which will be known as Citiport. Aimed at the Turkish market for now it will be available in Euro 6 or alternatively Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

Setra Setra launched the new generation TopClass 500 with its Euro 6 engine at Busworld. On the stand was a Setra S27 HDH (tri axle) 14m. This model was fitted with 54 seats, giving passengers plenty of room. As long distance operators strive to stop competition from the airlines on domestic routes, the popularity and growth of Setra sales will continue. Otokar

Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz coaches are the biggest selling coach in Turkey for over 40 years. On its stand was the 70,000th bus manufactured in Turkey. Employing almost 10,000 people directly and within its dealer network last year the German manufacturer exported almost 3,000 vehicles mainly to Western Europe. Mercedes-Benz claims that the additional services it offers to operators such as After sales service and Financial packages ensure customer loyalty.

Otokar As the market leader in the Turkish market for the past 4 years, Otokar does not intend giving up that position. Employing 2,500 people and exporting to 60 countries the company saw growth of 40% in 2013. One of the keys to its success is the reinvestment of 4% of its turnover in R&D. Manufacturing 24 buses per day it estimates that there are 1,000 Otokar models on the streets of Istanbul.


Karsan Locally based bus and truck builder Karsan supplies its own design and built buses, predominantly Midi-buses but also 6m–18m city buses. Employing 1,000 people it has been in business since 1966. Most of its activities are assembling under licence for other manufacturers including, PSA Peugeot/Citreön and Renault.

2003 it has become market leader in Iran. Using only Scania chassis it manufactures 3 types of coaches and 4 types of city bus. Only recently arrived in the Turkish market it sees it as a step to the European market and because of its relationship with Scania it would hope to use the brand’s service network.


Guleryuz (Cobra) A family business which started out originally as a repair shop. Although established in 1967 it was not until 1982 that bus building started. Using the trade name Cobra, a range of buses and coaches are available on DAF, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and MAN chassis. Unusual for Turkey, Guleryuz manufactures double deck buses mainly for open top touring.


Voith Launching the DIWA.6 automatic transmission and using the full DIWA efficiency package will give operators an extra 5% fuel savings in comparison to the older unit. In service in Western Europe since late 2012 Voith stated the Automatic Neutral Shift (ANS) reduces the load on the engine, which gives the fuel savings.


OGHAB Iranian manufacturer OGHAB (means ‘eagle’ in Arabic) is a privately owned builder. Since it started manufacturing in

Mercedes-Benz Text: Sean Murtagh -


Fully Electric Vehicles could make a Real Break-Through


he next five years could see a real breakthrough for the viability of fully electric buses according to Dr. William Wright (pictured), the 86 year old former Chairman of the Ballymena based Wright Group. Dr. Wright made his comments as eight wirelessly-charged electric Wrightbus Streetlite EV vehicles are entering service with eFleet Integrated Service (“eFIS”), where they will operate in a groundbreaking trial in Milton Keynes.

with the issues surrounding air quality and soon began applying his engineering skills and commercial acumen to the problem.

plug in and IPT (Induction Powered Transfer, as in the Milton Keynes trail) on the StreetLite EV as a major advantage.

Since then, Dr. Wright has spearheaded the company’s development of hybrid electric technology over many years, the latest version of which now features in current Wrightbus products such as the New Routemaster in London and the StreetCar RTV in Las Vegas. He has also played a major role in making the fully electric StreetLite EV concept a reality.

“As always, it is down to giving operators scope to choose what best suits their particular operational needs and circumstances and how they want to approach the distance/ batteries/passenger capacity equation. The drive technology is mature and already well proven, so I think the key challenge will be in the on-going development of battery technology rather than the method by which the batteries are recharged. For instance I watch, with great interest, the work which is being undertaken by the scientific community on sodium lithium batteries – I think this could be an exciting and fruitful area of research.”

“Clearly the data from the Milton Keynes project will be crucial in proving the viability or otherwise of fully electric vehicles on what is a particularly demanding route,” said Dr. Wright. “However I am optimistic for its prospects, particularly if broader automotive industry development of battery management systems continues at the right pace. I think the car manufacturers have an important role to play here, as customer demand will drive production volume.”

The trial, led by eFIS, an enabling company set up by Mitsui & Co Europe and design engineering consultancy Arup and supported by Milton Keynes Borough Council and the UK’s Department for Transport, aims to prove that low-carbon transport can be a cost-effective and efficient alternative to traditional diesel and petrol vehicles. William continues to play an active role in the company’s alternative driveline business unit, and believes that fully electric buses have great commercial potential – something that he hopes that the data from the long term Milton Keynes project will substantiate. “There is a parallel with the adoption of low floor accessible vehicles in the 1990’s,” said Dr. Wright. “Operators were initially reticent, but when evidence of rising patronage emerged along with a reduction in the cost premium of vehicles as production volumes increased – low floor buses quickly became the norm. We sniffed out the market and were a good six months ahead of our competitors.” A well-known and respected figure in the industry, Dr. Wright’s interest in looking at alternatives to diesel powered buses originally stemmed, some twenty years ago, from seeing a jogger running through London wearing a facemask. As an asthma sufferer in his childhood, Dr. Wright already had empathy FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2014

His fi rst ever car was a Morris Eight and in more recent times he has been a driver of a hybrid electric vehicle. However it is in a battery powered car that Dr. Wright now makes his daily commute from home to the Wright Group HQ in Galgorm, Ballymena. “I plug the car in overnight and can currently get a 75 mile range out of it – if future automotive development sees battery performance improved so as to double the range, I think many people will start to look at batterypowered cars more closely. We already have car charging points every 20 miles or so here in Northern Ireland. Imagine if, say, in London electric taxis became a reality?” Back on board his favourite mode of transport – the bus - William sees the ability of Wrightbus to offer all three charging options - pantograph,

Dr. Wright is justifiably proud that the company that bears his and his father’s name has become synonymous with innovation and has been particularly active in developing low emission bus technology. “We have the knowledge and, in some cases the scars and as a business we have always re-invested a relatively high proportion of our turnover in R&D. We have always looked beyond the present, trying to identify what challenges our customers may face five, ten, even fi fteen years down the line. Being a family run business and being able to take the long term view without the needs of external shareholders to satisfy has helped in this regard too.” “I am still very much a commercial animal and will be watching the Milton Keynes trial data with great interest. If we can get the daily operation of the vehicles foolproof, the ever rising cost of energy will help sell the concept to a wider audience. The potential is there and, with the right level of technological development and Government support, I think electric buses could become a reality in many UK cities within the next decade.”

a giant leap for 2014! ‘ALL-NEW’ NEW FOR 2014

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Logan’s Executive Travel works closely with Close Brothers


ogan’s Executive Travel is a fortyyear old family-owned fi rm and one of the largest most successful coach hire operators in Ireland. From its f leet headquarters in Dunloy, Ballymena,,County Antrim, in the heart of Northern Ireland, Logan’s Executive Travel operates throughout Europe - providing

FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2014

a luxury coach service that combines the highest quality driving, customer care and top-of-the-range vehicles. Managing Director for the business, Sean Logan, had utilised numerous types of funding over the years. However, the banking crisis in 2008 meant that many of the fi nance options

that he had taken advantage of in the past were no longer available. With an appetite to continue to increase his fleet of luxury coaches and maintain his regular purchasing cycle each spring, he engaged with new entrants to the Northern Ireland market at the time - Close Brothers Commercial Finance.

PROFILE | 17 coaches delivered the previous year. The balance of the order was 14m-long Elite B13Ts for premium tour work. “We have worked very closely with Plaxton to produce what I believe are the most highlyspecified Panthers ever,” said Sean Logan on the deal. “The Panther and Elite really are the best coaches on the road, and are perfect for the high-quality service we offer our clients.” The Panthers are primarily for a significant expansion of the business, taking the fleet from 25 to 35 coaches. Logans runs one of Ireland’s most modern fleets; the oldest coaches operated by the company date from 2011. The Elites are replacing two similar 14m coaches in the fleet. “We have built our business on providing top-quality service using vehicles which are comfortable, stylish and reliable,” continued Sean, “And this investment is a clear measure of the success of our approach.”

Further to some initial discovery meetings with Close Brothers it became evident to Sean that the team had a depth of experience in the transport market and that it had a similar ethos to him in terms of business transactions and building customer relationships. There were many products to choose from, all of which could be tailored to his precise requirements, but ultimately, hire purchase was the most suitable option for the business. Th is meant that each time Sean needed to invest in a new coach he could spread the cost of the asset over an agreed period of time, thus ensuring a steady cash flow and avoiding a large capital outlay. “What att racted me to working with Close Brothers was the local decision making, the personal level of service and speed of decisions. I’ve won a number of new contracts over the past four years and the support from Close Brothers has allowed me to fulfi l these new business opportunities. The team consists of experts in their field that really understand my business and I know that I will continue to work with them for the long-term,” explained Sean. In recent times Logan’s has invested in upgrading its fleet with new coaches from Alexander Dennis through its Plaxton Coach Sales brand. 15 new Plaxton/Volvo were supplied, its biggest single order for new coaches in the company’s 40-year history, confi rming the company’s faith in the market-leading coachbuilder/ vehicle manufacturer combination. The fi rst to enter service were 13 high-specification Panther B9Rs, following 12 similar touring Text: Rob Van Dieten -

“I was very impressed with the upgraded Panther,” said Sean relating to the initial order of 12 units which led to the larger repeat order. “The Plaxton/Volvo combination is a product we know well and which gives us excellent service. These new coaches confi rm our commitment to both manufacturers and further develops an already strong relationship.”

As with all of Logan's new Plaxton coaches, the latest Panthers are to a very high specification with 53 leather-trimmed seats, air-conditioning, a comprehensive in-coach entertainment system and a rear-mounted walk-in washroom. “The combination of 53 seats and a toilet in a 12.8m coach is very appealing,” Sean emphasised. “The B9R Panther also provides plenty of luggage capacity, which is important on the high-quality touring work we do.” Features of the new Logan’s coaches include power-operated locker doors, LED daytime running lights and LEDs for all external marker lights. The CCTV system allows the forward view to be displayed on the cabin monitors, while the Professional Line audio system incorporates Bluetooth and iPod interfaces. There are on-board vacuum and washdown systems to keep the coaches fresh while on tour. The Gala seats feature a premium level of bespoke trim, those on the two Elites being finished in leather. A f loor-level walk-in washroom at the rear provides easy access for customers who might be reluctant to negotiate steps while the coach is on the move. “I’m delighted with these vehicles, and with Plaxton’s willingness to work with us to ensure we got the exact specification we wanted,” concluded Sean.



uro Bus Expo 2014 is set to be a sell out according to Show Organisers, Expo Management. With five months before the start of the show, there is a waiting list for open stands unsold, which means that there will be a full complement of 260 exhibitors when the show opens at the NEC in Birmingham on 4 November. “Demand has been particularly strong his year, with exhibitor bookings at 2008 levels which we would only normally expect to see three months further down the track. Significantly, many of the bookings have come from companies looking to exhibit at the show for the fi rst time” said Show Director Mark Griffi n. “Five months out, over 240 exhibitors have made EBE 2014 a key part of their marketing activities and, in the process, between them snapped up nearly 95% of all available space. I would therefore strongly urge any companies or organisations who are thinking about exhibiting, at what will be the premier trade show for our industry this year, to contact the show team as soon as possible to make sure they don’t miss out.” Euro Bus Expo 2014 will be fi rmly focusing on the future of passenger transport and the education programme at the show will be highlighting technology and the environment – both vital aspects of every bus and coach operation today. There promises to be plenty of alternative powered vehicles on show, including hybrid, electric and gas powered models from many leading manufacturers. The online registration facility is now open for delegates wishing to plan their visit to this year’s show, which takes place between Tuesday and Thursday 4-6 November.


VanHool opens new plant in Macedonia


n the same day that controversy erupted over Finance Minister, Michael Noonan accompaning some Irish musicians in meeting American businessman Donald Trump, the Prime Minister of Macedonia and three of his Ministers turned up at the new VanHool production facility near the capital city Skopje for the official opening of the plant. This was true recognition and appreciation of a €25 million investment and the creation of 450 jobs by the Belgian. Fleet Bus & Coach was there for the event. Prime Minister of Macedonia, Mr. Nikola Gruevski along with most of his Government Ministers attended the opening of the VanHool purpose built plant outside Skopje. Up to 400 buses can be built each year in the new plant and with additional shifts, this capacity could be increased. Currently there are 450 people employed at this facility and the number will increase by another 140 in the next two years. VanHool first started the process to develop this plant in 2008. Although Macedonia is

FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2014

not part of the European Union (EU), it is built according to VanHool management in a European frame of mind. In the early years the discussions with Macedonian Authorities were of an exploratory nature, the catalyst to go ahead with the development was an order of 500 coaches for the North American market. 200 of these vehicles were high spec vehicles and are being built in Belgium, the other 300 are a standard type vehicle and in order to win the contract it would need the lower cost structure of a plant in Macedonia to make their quotation competitive. Filip VanHool, CEO of the VanHool company was very complimentary to the Macedonian Government for efficiency in assisting the smooth running of the project. From start to finish the plant, which is 40,000 square metres in size took 22 months to build. As a way of attracting foreign investment to Macedonia the Government established a ‘Tax Free Zone’ where up to ten European and American companies operate. Similar to the type of financial structure that operates at Shannon Airport, foreign owned companies are allowed to maximise their investment while

giving employment and contributing to the local economy.

Macedonia Macedonia is a land locked country in South Eastern Europe bordering Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo and Serbia. It declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. It is smaller than Munster and has a population of two million. Not yet a member of the EU, it has applied and is regarded as a very progressive country. Last year its economy saw growth of 17% and 2014 seems to be on course to see continued growth. When Macedonia was part of the old Yugoslavia, bus building was one of the main industries and the arrival of VanHool is a great source of pride for the locals as they see ‘Macedonian buses’ being exported to North America and the rest of Europe.

Bus and Coach Building in Macedonia By April of this year, 140 new coaches had been delivered to North America from the factory. Relationships have been established with local suppliers and such is the quality and satisfaction


that these component companies are now contracted to the VanHool plants in Belgium. Establishing the new plant was simple according to Filip VanHool, “The real challenge was ensuring that we would deliver the quality of the product. We have taken our time in establishing our production lines to ensure we get the quality right.” Currently it takes 53 days to build a bus as it works its way through the plant. As time goes on and the processes are established this time will improve. In the past there was a bus building industry in the Skopje area and so the traditions and skills were available. VanHool brought over fi ft y of the staff from Skopje, Macedonia to Lier, Belgium for training and redeployed almost 100 of its own staff to the new factory to ensure continuity of quality that the brand name is built on. Probably the most impressive aspect of the new plant is the vastness and neatness of the plant from the sky as you take off from Skopje Airport which is striking. One of the engineers at the factory said “We want our customer to look at a bus and not know which factory it was built in.” Judging by the interest from the North American market and the forward orders on the books, it looks like it has achieved that goal.

VanHool “EX” One of the advantages of locating a plant in Macedonia is that it allows VanHool to tap into new markets which in the past were not open to it. With the confidence and high standards that the employees at the Skopje plant have

Filip Van Hool, C.E.O.

seamlessly embraced from the VanHool Belgian plant, a new model “EX” (pronounced e-iks) will go into production in late 2014. Aimed at the lower end of the market the new coach will be showcased at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover dur ing September. The new “EX” will be available for 2015 delivery to customers.

Driving the American Dream CX45 American Dream CX45 Building a coach for the North American market is quite a challenge for a European manufacturer, over there they like their buses built a certain way. Some of the striking features of the American coaches are split windscreen (legal requirement), heavy-set bumpers, more compact mirrors and a general look and feel of robustness. VanHool sells and distributes its coaches through its US partner, ABC. VanHool on entering the North American market brought a hint of styling and design not seen before in America. One US customer remarked that once operators were happy with the quality of the vehicle they could then admire the way VanHool introduced style into the American coach market - what Riverdance did for Irish dancing.

Anick Van Calster, Belgian Ambassador

Text & Photos: Sean Murtagh -

Getting behind the wheel of the ‘VanHool American Dream CX45’ is a different driving experience to driving a European coach. With a wheelbase of 7.7m and an overall length of 13.895m it is slightly wider than a European coach at 2.590m. Mirror layout is significantly different than what we are used to and I found using the smaller mirror for normal driving and the larger mirror in slow moving traffic or during manoeuvres worked best. Because of the long wheelbase, drivers need to make allowances at junctions to avoid the embarrassment of an unnecessary reversing movement. Operators can select from two engine choices, Detroit Diesel (DD12EPA13 – 450hp) or Cummins (ISX12-EPA 2013-425hp). Both engines use Allison (WT B500 Generation 5) automatic transmission. Speaking to some American operators at the factory in Macedonia about choosing the engine type, decisions seemed to be made on the basis of personal preference rather than the type or work the vehicle was doing. Certainly to drive the coaches, there seemed little difference. Even though the Detroit Diesel had more horsepower, both coaches drove similarly. While it was a strange feeling to see the speedometer reading m/ph, both engines seemed to rev out at 1100 RPM at 50 m/ph (80 kp/h). Maximum seating is 54 and the extra width is noticeable in the centre isle. As with all VanHool products, the CX45 can be styled up or down to suit the operator’s budget. VanHool has added European styling to American engineering, producing a real market leader for Stateside operators.

20 | TEST

Mercedes-Benz Minibuses drive like Coaches and Lane Keeping Assist. While independent body builder will always be in the marketplace Mercedes-Benz is marketing its “Whole Bus” product very aggressively.

Assembling in Dortmund Now firmly established in Dortmund, MercedesBenz can manufacture over 1,100 vehicles every year at the plant. Sprinter vans and cab/chassis arrive at the facility as they would to any other customer. All parts used in the building of a bus are Mercedes-Benz parts. All seats have three point seat belts fitted. When the plant became fully operational by Mercedes-Benz, minibus production which was previously based in Ligny, France was transferred to Dortmund. A key part of the process is corrosion production. Where some ‘cut and weld’ is part of the process, cavity sealing and corrosion protection is a very important part of the production process. Fitting out the interior of the minibus is very labour intensive and most of the assembly work is carried out in parallel to the main production. Flooring is cut to shape, ceilings are prepared with luggage racks attached and all are then transferred to the bus. In all, the vehicle will pass through eight cycles or production stations during its assembly and depending on the type of customer order, it will take from ten to thirty-five days to manufacture each bus. At final assembly, all buses are subjected to the same critical evaluation and quality checks as any other Mercedes-Benz’ vehicles, with two additional checks. Every bus leaving Dortmund receives a road test and six weeks after delivery, the customer receives a phone call asking their comments on the new bus.


ixteen years ago the MercedesBenz minibus story started in Dortmund when parent company Daimler bought a 49% stake in Karl Koch GmbH. By 2004 it had bought out the company completely and all of the minibus activities for the Group is now located there. At the height of the market in 2008 the minibus market for 3,000–8,000 kg models was almost 13,000 vehicles, and while demand has reduced dramatically in the past six years, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter range has increased its market share. Divided into four product lines, Sprinter Mobility, Sprinter Transfer, Sprinter City and Sprinter Travel, in total there are sixteen variants with eight available as right hand drives. In the Dortmund plant, quality is key. All production is based on same level as that of the bigger buses and coaches from the Group. Mercedes-Benz has developed the new Sprinter range to match some of the demographic changes in Western Europe. Reducing pupil numbers, with smaller populations in rural areas, are now forcing operators to look at the type of vehicles they use. As a complete bus with full integration between body and chassis, the quality of the build of both parts is similar to the Citaro and the Travago. Customers can have full confidence in the new Sprinter.

All New Sprinter Mercedes-Benz regard the minibus segment of the market as important as the big bus market and this is reflected in the investment in the new range of Sprinters. Visually the Sprinter FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2014

Driving Impressions

has sharper profiles and more sheer body lines. However, the most important changes are under the bonnet! Sprinter Vans and Buses are among the first to comply with Euro 6 standards, using the BlueTec engine technology from the heavy engines. Using an updated development of the SCR catalytic converter and AdBlue injection system, fuel consumption has been further improved. All engines are based on the OM651 four cylinder engine (a six cylinder is available on some models). Coupled to the engine is the 7G-Tronic automatic transmission with a torque converter. An Eco Stop/Start function is also available. As with all Mercedes-Benz products, safety is paramount. Some new and enhanced features are fitted to help the driver and reduce the risk of accidents including Proximity Warning Assist, Blind Spot Assist

While at the factory we got the opportunity to drive some of the various models. One of the first things that struck us was the similarity of the interiors to the Citaro and Travego. Sprinter City 45 has all of the appearance of a Citaro inside, with most parts interchangeable. By the same token the Sprinter Travel 65 has many similar components as that of the Travego coach. On the road, we experienced that all of the Sprinters driven were solid, giving you the same confidence as if you were driving a coach. Getting in and out of the driver’s area is sometimes a challenge in a minibus but not so in the Sprinter. You can enter from the outside or through the passenger area quite easily and without having to become an Olympic gymnast! One of the delightful surprises is the seven speed automatic transmission. Gearbox and engine are well matched and the change is always on time with no need for the engine to over-rev. Braking is smooth and with a retarder, a driver will never be anxious about stopping. In the low floor models, there is the same feeling of space as you would get in the City Bus. Passengers will love these models and without doubt so will drivers.

Text & Photos: Sean Murtagh -



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Fare is Fair? Back Seat Driver by Sean Murtagh


henever there is a scandal of any kind in Irish politics or within a Government Department, the first thing we hear after the dust sett les a bit is, “We must make sure nothing like this can happen again.â€? Government Ministers, Opposition Spokespersons and Department Officials will all have proposals for new legislation to make sure “it never happens again.â€? Recently, we are being told that there will be no more money for State transport companies. One of the fi rst casualties of this withdrawal of funding was the Regional Airport. Department of Transport officials concluded that with the improved road network there was no reason to subsidise fl ights to and from Dublin. It seemed like a good start and seemed that if the same logic was used when dealing with road transport there might be fairer competition. Well the jury is still out on the National Transport Authority (NTA) as far as private operators are concerned. To be fair its remit is not to represent private operators or be a referee, it must ensure fair use of funding and make sure the travelling public get relevant and good service. So with all this as a backdrop, where did the â‚Ź16 million come out of to rebuild and develop Colbert Bus and Train Station in Limerick? The commuters of Limerick and passengers that use the station would not thank you for suggesting that this development should not go ahead. Leaving that aside, spending so much public money is difficult to justify in the current climate. If it were the case that the CIE Group of companies were doing this as a commercial venture or that other property was being sold to fi nance the project then fair enough. But it seems not. According to Alan Kelly, Junior Minister at the Department of Transport & Tourism and the NTA the funding is coming from the European cities fund. Some local media reports suggested that the Council would provide some funding. There is no doubt that this is a well planned and very progressive project, with up to two hundred construction jobs created in the building of the station which will be done over a few years. Some of the passenger numbers presented in the plan will create challenges for Bus Éireann. The figures suggest that 2500 passengers use the station each day, departing on 125 services, this is an average of twenty passengers per bus. If you assume that an arrival matches each departure this reduces the load factor to ten. Even allowing for some pick ups en route these numbers are small. Finally there is the next question of allowing private operators use the terminal. Situations like this always highlight the public operator versus the private operator saga. At the moment one private operator en route from Galway to Cork drops passengers off across the road from Colbert Station in Limerick. Whatever about the inconvenience for the operator or the driver, what about the passengers. Does travelling with a private operator make you a second class citizen? I hope not.

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FLEETBUS&COACH | Summer 2014

Text: Sean Murtagh –

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Summer 2014

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