South Africa turns to Bus Rapid Transport for World Cup

Several South African cities have invested in building intelligent bus-based transport systems ahead of the soccer World Cup.

Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) systems enhance the efficiency of public transport through separate bus lanes, buses with high passenger capacity, efficient bus stops and information systems for guiding traffic.

South Africa is currently the country with the largest establishment of BRT. This has been prompted by the need to transport large numbers of fans to the World Cup matches this summer, but that is just the beginning. "Many South African cities have highly ambitious plans to solve the current, often chaotic, traffic situation," says Marius Botha, head of Volvo Buses in South Africa. "These expansion plans are scheduled to continue until 2020.

"This is also very much an environmental project, since the BRT system contributes to lower emissions. The cities have also decided that the buses will be equipped with Euro-4 engines, despite there being no such legal requirements in South Africa."

Two of the three cities that are now building BRT systems, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, have ordered their buses from Volvo.

In Port Elizabeth, the city selected Volvo Buses as its total supplier. This includes the buses – gold contracts that involve responsibility for all service and repair work on the vehicles, and the ITS4mobility traffic-information system.

Port Elizabeth has ordered 25 articulated buses with bodies from Marco Polo. South Africa has left-hand traffic and the buses will have four doors on the right side for quickly getting on and off at the special stops along the BRT corridors. The buses also have three doors on the left side that are deployed when driving in mixed traffic further out on the bus routes.

The advantage of the chosen B9SLA model is that the engine is placed far upfront on the left side of the bus, which means that axle pressure can be optimally used, and the bus has capacity for 115 passengers. The city has also ordered a normal 12-metre prototype bus for testing in the BRT system.

Cape Town has ordered 43 Volvo buses for its system with specifications for high-floor systems with elevated platforms at the bus stops. This order includes eight articulated vehicles. Marco Polo will also manufacture the bodies for these buses.

"Since the first BRT systems were built in South America in the 1980s, Volvo Buses has been convinced that this is the most cost-effective way to modernize and enhance the efficiency of urban public transportation," says Peter Danielsson, BRT Manager at Volvo Buses.

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