MAN Truck & Bus
Kakha Kaladze only has to step out the door if he wants to gauge what's happening with the traffic in Tbilisi. Bus lines 14, 29 and 49 stop every few minutes a mere 50 metres in front of Tbilisi town hall. People stream out and spread to the surrounding shops, banks and government buildings. New passengers board the modern MAN buses. After a few seconds, the vehicles depart with a quiet hum into the tumult of the city.
Public transport in the Georgian capital is now based on a carefully orchestrated and modern traffic concept. Although a few years ago it was threatened with collapse due to frailty and chaos. As everywhere in the world, Georgia's capital city is also attracting more and more people. Today almost a third of the country's population lives in Tbilisi. They all want to get from A to B, several times a day, 365 days a year. Yet until recently the Tbilisi bus fleet was last renewed many years ago. More and more cars and mini buses were clogging the city's streets. The result was a huge strategic challenge for local public transport. This was quickly recognised by Kakha Kaladze when he moved into city hall as mayor of Tbilisi in November 2017. “Our priority for traffic was to extend local public transport to reduce the number of cars and to improve the ecological conditions in Tbilisi,” he recalls. His team analysed the international bus market, examined the situation in Tbilisi and produced feasibility studies for a new bus fleet. This formed the basis for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to provide 27 million euros in funding.
“The order was publicly advertised and we received a total of five offers,” relates Kaladze. After detailed analysis, it was clear: the award should go to MAN. “Our new buses are safe, accessible, air conditioned and comfortable for the driver and passengers” says Kaladze. “But above all, they are ecologically clean, because they run on CNG biogas.” The first buses are now rolling through Tbilisi one and a half years after the award to MAN.
The fact that the traffic transformation in Tbilisi could pick up speed so quickly is also down to the assertiveness of Kakha Kaladze. During his time as a professional footballer, the Georgian was a defender for AC Milan, won the Champions League twice with the club and learned to achieve his objectives via tactics and as part of a team. “I owe my tenacity, my ability for teamwork and my diligence to my football career,” he tell us. “And all these abilities also help me enormously in politics, especially now as mayor of Tbilisi, because this city needs a mobile, hard-working and goal-oriented government.”
Our new buses are safe, accessible, air conditioned and comfortable for the driver and passengers.
Highlights of his first career: Kakha Kaladze won the UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan in 2006 and in 2007.
is considered to be one of the most successful footballers in Georgia. He made his first appearance for Georgian premier league team FC Dynamo Tbilisi at the age of 16. Five years later he joined Dynamo Kiev before changing to AC Milan in 2001. Among other achievements Kaladze won the Champions League twice with AC Milan. He played in the Georgian national team for 15 years. After his career as a professional footballer, Kaladze moved into politics in 2012 and joined the party of the Georgian dream – Democratic Georgia. After five years as energy minister, in 2017 he ran for the post of Mayor of Tbilisi and won the election with 51 percent of the vote.
Seamless cooperation between Tbilisi and Munich was equally important. “MAN fulfilled all agreements and delivered the buses in a timely manner,” says Kaladze. MAN specialists also provided training for the drivers in Tbilisi. MAN employees accompanied the introduction of the buses for a total of three months. Kaladze was so satisfied that he ordered a further 90 buses from MAN this year. He travelled initially to the MAN customer centre in Munich to select the design and colour. “I had already invited all the inhabitants of Tbilisi to participate in selecting the colour for the new buses,” relates Kaladze. The decision was for green.
The MAN Lion's City buses already shipped to Tbilisi are even now ensuring less stress on the streets. Because passengers can use the extra wide doors to enter and leave the buses, the waiting times at the bus stops are shortened. The modern gas engine drives the buses quickly and cleanly through the city. And the electronic braking system with ABS, traction control and electronic stability programme all ensure a safe journey.
Although Kakha Kaladze's mission is far from finished. He tells us that almost everything in Tbilisi was destroyed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The infrastructure, the parks, the architecture, the sights, everything was in a catastrophic condition. “That is why we are now facing challenges in all directions.”
Concrete plans are already on the table as far as traffic transformation is concerned. We have to acquire up to 750 additional new buses in the next few years to fully modernise and expand the existing bus fleet in Tbilisi. “This will naturally involve further invitations to tender”, says Kaladze. “But the previous years of collaboration with MAN have shown that with MAN we have a really reliable partner at our side.”
And this is how the first huge success could soon also be recorded in Kaladze's political career. He already knows the basis on which he wants to be measured. “If I can stand before a satisfied and grateful Tbilisi population at the end of my term, then for me that will have at least the same value as winning the Champions League.”