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Bus Rapid Transit: research project in Budapest completed - new systems in Israel based on MAN chassis

Bus Rapid Transit: research project in Budapest completed - new systems in Israel based on MAN chassis

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems enable cities to optimise their transport infrastructures for local public transport relatively simply. In existing infrastructures, BRT systems are often the only way to expand transport capacities at short notice. MAN Truck & Bus develops solutions for local public transport systems like these: one research project has just been concluded in Budapest, while in Israel, two cutting-edge modern BRT systems are currently being set up.

The EBSF research project: field trials of an articulated bus optimised for passenger flow

At the end of 2011, MAN Truck & Bus completed several months of field trials in which a five-door Lion's City GL BRT bus was tested in Budapest. The objective of the European research project "European Bus System of the Future" (EBSF) is to obtain more insights for the future construction of efficient, ecologically sound and attractive bus systems in cities. For the research project's user test, MAN Truck & Bus developed an individually equipped articulated bus, based on the extra-long 18.75-metre chassis from MAN's series production. Every day in Budapest, two million passengers use the city buses, which together with trams, the Metro and suburban train lines form the backbone of the local public transport network. The city's bus operator BKV runs a fleet of 1,365 buses serving 204 routes.

BKV put the MAN Lion's City GL on an inner-city route with a particularly large number of passengers. The 18.75-metre long articulated bus was designed by MAN with this challenge in mind, so that even with a high passenger volume, passenger flow would be rapid and thus ensure very short stops. The Lion's City GL was for the first time fitted with five wide doors, while the passenger compartment with its short distances was designed for time-saving and relaxed boarding and alighting. The forebody is equipped with folding seats, enabling the driver to react flexibly to passenger volumes and demand for seats by increasing either standing room or the number of seats available. In the rush hour, the driver is able to block the two rows of folding seats mounted lengthwise in the entrance area of the front doors in order to reserve more standing room. The seating architecture provides 40 seats and standing room for 118 passengers, plus the seven blockable folding seats. The flexible arrangement of seats and standing room was well received by passengers during the trial, especially because there was more space in the bus in rush hours, for parents with baby carriages, for example, or passengers with shopping carts.

What this means in figures: the five-door MAN vehicle reduces the time required for passengers to board and alight, so that, for example, forty passengers require not 26 seconds but only 16. The comparison was made using a four-door bus on the identical route. Furthermore, the trial also showed that the larger the number of passengers, the more time is saved. In modern BRT systems, buses pull into the stops just minutes apart. During rush hours, the time between buses can be even shorter. This makes clear how important it is for the procedure at the bus stop to run smoothly.

The field trial was also aimed at obtaining insights into how passengers felt about travelling in the BRT bus, the faster boarding and alighting. Four hundred passengers were interviewed about this. What they liked about MAN's five-door vehicle were the short distances to the nearest open door and the noticeably better distribution of passengers boarding and alighting during rush hour. Interviewees were especially positive about the bright, friendly atmosphere on board the bus, the interior layout, the comfortable seating, the quietness of the vehicle in operation and the temperature in the passenger compartment. The articulated bus owes its unique spatial effect to its transparent bellows, which was mentioned by interviewees as a highlight, as were the clear arrangement and discernibility of the uprights.

The bus is equipped with innovative lighting on its ceiling: four light strips with more than 1,500 LEDs (energy-saving light-emitting diodes) illuminate the compartment, giving it a friendly, evenly-lit look. Two extra bright, pure white LED strips in the center of the ceiling provide the vehicle's basic illumination, while two more LED strips running the entire length of the bus are able to generate defined colours. They act as backlights to ceiling elements made of translucent polycarbonate, whose entire surfaces then take on the respective hue. Cooler and warmer shades in various lighting and weather conditions make it possible to create a pleasant atmosphere in the bus.

The propulsion system of the bus, a horizontal MAN D2066 320-hp EEV engine with four-speed automatic transmission, SensoTop control and integrated retarder found favour with drivers and operator alike for its excellent driving dynamics. They emphasised the ease with which the bus accelerated even when full, its fuel efficiency, its precise steering and the low level of vehicle noise. The common-rail diesel engine with two-stage turbocharging develops a maximum torque of 1,600 Nm at between 1,000 and 1,400 rpm. It was carefully designed, keeping in mind ease of accessibility to all components requiring servicing. In the trial, the five-door bus proved itself highly reliable; the operator calculated that availability during the first six months was 98.5 percent.

In the nine months of the trial in Budapest, MAN also researched new technologies with which transport could be controlled more efficiently in future BRT systems: all five doors of the articulated bus were fitted with 3-D infrared passenger counters. This enables the level of occupation to be transmitted from the bus to the traffic control center. The control center can then automatically prioritise buses with more people on board relative to those with fewer. The counter determines the number of passengers with precision, reaching an accuracy of 96.9 percent in the test.

The "Metronit" and "Red Line" BRT systems in Haifa and Tel Aviv: futuristic buses on efficient MAN chassis.

State-of-the-art BRT systems are currently being erected in the cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv. The buses have their own lanes, to a certain extent - they are still under construction, while the first buses have already been produced. MAN Truck & Bus is delivering 172 articulated bus chassis with EEV engines for the two networks, "Metronit" and "Red Line". The futuristically designed buses are low-floor from end to end.

DAN Society for Public Transport, one of Israel's biggest bus operators, recently presented the first of the 172 buses that will form the backbone of the highly modern Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the major cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv. MAN Truck & Bus is supplying three-axle low-floor articulated buses for this system, powered by 360-hp common-rail diesel engines that comply with the currently strictest emission standard EEV (Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle). The futuristic bodies of the buses, which are equipped with powerful air-conditioning systems suitable for hot climates, are manufactured locally in Israel by the Ha´argaz company.

Michael Nagar, Chairman of the DAN Board, is putting his trust in engines with particularly clean exhaust emissions, as well as in separate bus lanes and a very special product design: "The new bus networks - ‘Metronit’ in Haifa and 'Red Line' in Tel Aviv - enable these built-up metropolitan areas to introduce a highly modern transport system in a short space of time. The design of the buses, which emphasizes the future, communicates that we are making innovative ideas for local public transport reality."

What is special about the bus chassis supplied by MAN is the combination of low floors throughout with a vehicle length of 18.75 metres and four double doors. The low-floor design makes for time-saving boarding and alighting, a vital feature of an efficient BRT system.

The EEV standard sets considerably lower limits for particulate emission than the Euro 5 standard currently applicable in Europe. The EEV diesel engines from MAN fulfil these exhaust standards without the use of the additive AdBlue® - in other words, the buses only require filling up with diesel fuel.

MAN competence: Bus Rapid Transit systems

Bus Rapid Transit systems are relatively easy to integrate into existing urban structures. They enable the modernisation of a city's transport infrastructure without the need for extensive construction work on putting in underground lines, for example. This makes them the most efficient local public transport systems by far in terms of their overall CO2 balance, which takes into account the building of the transport infrastructure, the manufacturing of the means of transport and the actual conveying of the passengers. Moreover, BRT systems ensure with great degree of certainty that passengers will get to their destinations on time: buses are more flexible and can make detours when the unforeseen happens - blocked streets on their route, for example.

The foundation of any BRT system is formed by modern city buses with high passenger capacities and interiors whose layouts are optimised so that the flow of passengers is unobstructed. Other possible characteristics are separate lanes and platform stops where tickets are sold and access is automatically controlled – i.e. before the bus is boarded, in order to optimise the passenger flow. RT systems also offer intelligent traffic management by, for example, transmission of the current positions of the buses or prioritisation at traffic lights.

The wide range of bus chassis and complete buses from MAN forms an excellent basis for any BRT system. On top of that there is MAN's recognised competence in providing individual vehicle solutions with the reliability that only a major manufacturer of large-scale series can offer. In several Chinese cities BRT routes are serviced by buses made under licence from MAN / NEOPLAN. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in part on bus-only lanes, buses from MAN / NEOPLAN transport thousands of people smoothly and fast to their destinations every day - MAN and its service partners also ensure the economical, round-the-clock availability of the vehicles.